Chinese messaging app WeChat has a new feature that allows people to add songs to the videos they are sharing with friends. The feature is drawing these background tracks from QQ Music, one of the streaming services operated by WeChat’s parent company Tencent’s music division. There’s a Chinese-language report here giving more details, although when put through Google Translate it’s not the easiest read for westerners.
Music Ally talked to some of our contacts in China to understand what the news means, however. In one sense, this is WeChat making a defensive move against the popularity of Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) – a way to allow people to add music to their videos while sidestepping music-licensing headaches. Well, on the recorded-music side at least, if possibly not the publishing side. “It’s playing catch up, rather than a new step forward,” added Krish Raghav of Split United. “Still, it is significant just on account of WeChat’s scale.” He also highlighted issues of copyright clearance, even when the music has already been licensed for QQ Music. As a reminder of scale, at the end of 2018 the combined monthly active users (MAUs) of its WeChat and Weixin apps was just under one billion.