Chinese music streaming firm Tencent Music has published its latest financial results, and they reveal significant growth in its number of paying users, and a 60.1% increase in its music subscription revenues year-on-year.

The company’s total revenues in the fourth quarter of 2019 were RMB 7.29bn (around $1.05bn), up 35.1% year-on-year. RMB 2.14bn ($307m) of that came from Tencent Music’s three online music services, representing year-on-year growth of 40.7%. The bulk of the company’s revenue continues to come from social entertainment services – karaoke and live video apps for example – which saw revenues grow by 32.9% to RMB 5.15bn ($740m).

More stats: Tencent Music ended 2019 with 644 million mobile monthly active users of its online music services – that’s exactly the same as it had a year ago, so no growth at all. But the company’s paying users for online music grew by 47.8% to 39.9 million over the same period. Globally, that solidifies Tencent Music’s fourth place behind Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music – with the caveat that its figure combines three different streaming services: QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music.

Tencent Music’ conversion rate – the percentage of its listeners who pay for music in some way – has improved from 4.2% at the end of 2018 to 6.2% a year later. Meanwhile, its monthly ARPPU (average revenue per paying user) has grown from RMB 8.6 to RMB 9.3 over that period – around $1.33.

Other things we’ve plucked from Tencent Music’s announcement include its plans to launch a “live streaming service” within QQ Music, and a doubling of the number of artists and songs in the company’s Tencent Musician Program – direct distribution of artists through its platforms. “By January 2020, streaming of the original content on its platform as a proportion of total streams nearly doubled from a year ago.” Oh, and Tencent Music is getting into audiobooks in a big way, via a new five-year licensing deal with China Literature.

Should we compare Tencent Music’s growth in 2019 with Spotify’s? We should, while remembering that the two companies do not compete directly in any markets bar South Africa (where Tencent Music owns Joox). Tencent Music’s paying users growth of 47.8% in 2019 compares to Spotify’s 29%, with the latter company growing from 96 million to 113 million premium subscribers last year. Meanwhile, Spotify’s annual revenues grew by 24% in 2019, compared to 29.2% growth for Tencent Music’s online music revenues (social entertainment not included).

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