The age of full-catalogue-exclusivity deals with Chinese music services is coming to an end, with the government there having nudged the various companies to strike deals for fairer sub-licensing of the catalogues they control. The latest example is a deal between smartphone-maker Xiaomi and NetEase Cloud Music, who have signed a ‘copyright transfer agreement’ according to news site Technode.
“The agreement will give Xiaomi access to music from HIM International Music and Tianyue Media, including such artists as SHE, Hebe Tien, Yoga Lin, Power Station, and Where Chou,” reported the site. The news follows similar agreements between Tencent Music and Alibaba in 2017, and then between Tencent and NetEase in February this year.
The exclusivity deals have been a key factor in the Chinese streaming ecosystem’s growth to this point, but some new licensing deals are bucking the trend: indie licensing agency Merlin signed agreements with NetEase, Tencent and Alibaba in March for example, while as our recent interview with Beggars Group explained, that label has always sought non-exclusivity in its Chinese streaming deals.
According to the IFPI, the recorded-music market in China was worth $292.3m in 2017, up 35.3% year-on-year including $204.5m of streaming revenues. There’s still debate about how much of that income was from advances paid by services to rightsholders for access to their catalogues, rather than regular royalties for music usage on those platforms.