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Sony Music announces new deal with Tencent and direct deal with NetEase in China

By | Published on Tuesday 18 May 2021

Sony Music

Sony Music has announced a new deal with Chinese web giant Tencent covering all of the firm’s various music services, but also a direct deal with the other main player in music streaming in China, NetEase.

It’s a further step towards ending the unusual situation in the Chinese market whereby many rights owners license their music to one digital music platform, which then also gets exclusive distribution rights for the country. This has meant that other streaming services are forced to secure licensing deals from their competitors to access that label’s recordings.

The majors all previously worked with Tencent in that way, although such arrangements have been criticised by Chinese competition regulators in more recent years.

The direct deal with NetEase directly licenses Sony Music’s catalogues to the NetEase Cloud Music service, and should also result in other “innovative collaborations” that will “bring elevated music experiences to NetEase Cloud Music’s large, unique community of young music lovers in China”. That will likely include karaoke services and music video content.

Says VP of NetEase Cloud Music, Ding Bo: “With access to Sony Music’s abundant catalogue of top artists across the globe, we’re THRILLED to provide more unique and influential music content for our audience’s diverse tastes. The partnership will enrich and enliven our already vast and expanding library of quality music and propel China’s online music ecosystem forward”.

Meanwhile, the major’s President Of Global Digital Business, Dennis Kooker, adds: “We are pleased to be partnering with NetEase Cloud Music to further grow the availability of our music in China and increase the level of global investment in our roster of world class artists. China is one of the most dynamic music markets in the world, and we look forward to working with NetEase Cloud Music to develop innovative approaches for our tremendous creative talent to connect with fans locally”.

The new multi-year deal with Tencent Music Entertainment covers the firm’s three streaming services, QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, as well as its livestreaming and WeSing platforms. Oh, and “TME’s online music platforms also will make music content from Sony Music available on certain designated connected devices, such as smart speakers, television, and in-car audio systems, in mainland China”.

Says TME’s Executive Chairman Cussion Pang: “Extending our cooperation with SME was a natural next-step for us. We look forward to leveraging our strong distribution channels to explore new ways of music marketing and the promotion of new artists, as well as deepening our reach to Japanese pop culture fans in China. With the music industry in China booming and set to become increasingly important on the international music map, we believe alliances such as these enable our users to have the best possible experience at their fingertips”.

Kooker adds: “Sony Music is pleased to extend our valued partnership with Tencent Music to maximise the reach of our artists in the vitally important market of China. We look forward to working with TME to develop further growth in the Chinese music marketplace and drive greater levels of local investment in our global roster of amazing talent, which includes many of the world’s biggest superstars”.

Universal Music announced it was renewing its partnership with Tencent but also entering into a direct partnership with NetEast last August. Though, despite many of Tencent’s exclusivity deals coming to an end, the firm’s dominance in the digital music market in China is still being scrutinised by regulators there. Recent reports suggested that it might actually be forced to sell two of its music apps, most likely Kugou Music and Kuwo Music which it acquired in 2016.