Most of the Chinese digital music services we’ve written about in recent times are free and ad-supported, but the Chinese music industry is gearing up for some big changes in the near future. Beijing music consultancy Outdustry has published a blog post tipping 1 July as the date when – in the words of composer, producer and TV talent judge Gao Xiaosong – “the Chinese online music market will step into an era of legal copies”. Services including Baidu Music, Kugou and Duomi are expected to launch paid versions on 1 July. The details are still unclear, although the China Economic Weekly’s translated article points to “a low cost monthly subscription fee” of around 10 RMB ($1.60), although this could vary across services. There’s also debate over whether streaming will continue to be free, while higher-quality downloads will be charged for. “Paid music will help music products make up for production costs, increase profit margins, and motivate mainstream music companies to invest on promoting original music and discovering new artists,” says music company Ocean Butterflies International’ CEO Lu Jian.

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