Category Archives: intellectual property

WIPO update

For those that didn’t know, the World Intellectual Property Organization is meeting in Beijing this week. You can find out more about WIPO here.

According to Music Week, the IFPI’s CEO had the following choice words to say at the start of the conference yesterday:

IFPI chief executive Frances Moore told a WIPO conference in Beijing this morning that internet piracy in China is happening on a “devastating scale” and threatening to throttle the potential of the legitimate market.

Moore called on the ISPs to help turn the crisis around. Moore said, “ISPs are uniquely placed to curb online infringement…specifically we need ISPs to take down infringing content that they host, but also to take action to block infringing websites and to help curb piracy over peer-to-peer networks.”

She also pointed out that another “major obstacle” to the music industry in China is the lack of performance rights.

Treading a careful line, which wouldn’t antagonize the host country, Moore praised China’s commitment to helping to promote creative and cultural industries. She added, “China has a long and rich musical tradition. We appreciate the Government’s desire to enforce intellectual property rights effectively and ensure a legal framework that permits rights holders to be fairly rewarded.”

Nothing particularly new or revelationary here. Just thought we would let you know

Tudou and the rule of law…

Artists struggle to sell any music at all in China. That we understand and those of us in the music industry here work within those parameters. On the other hand, companies generally play by the rules and compensate artists when they use their work. Contrary to this assumption, a story has surfaced online that runs as follows:

  • Tudou (the online video company) uses a track from Maybe Mars band Carsick Cars in a promotional video, sponsored by HP.
  • Friend of the label sees aforementioned video in a Shanghai taxi.  Bear in mind that this is a proper commercial for both Tudou and HP.
  • Maybe Mars, a little miffed, contact Tudou on behalf of their copyrighted material and their band
  • After 3 weeks of asking for not much more than an apology and a promise to consult the copyright holder in the future, Tudou basically tell Maybe Mars to “get bent” and “sue us”

[full story in Chinese HERE]

We are paraphrasing, of course, but the sentiment remains the same. According to Maybe Mars, Tudou were incredibly rude, unapologetic and eventually claimed “we are not music people and we can’t tell if this song is actually one of Carsick Cars or not”.

Not good behavior from an online video sharing service that claims to protect the rights of the creator.  Boo hiss.

(we saw the video 5 minutes ago, but it has already been taken down)

Nokia launches Comes With Music in China

It’s been on the cards for quite some times, but handset manufacturer Nokia launched their “Comes With Music” service offering yesterday here in China.  There will be 8 handsets that will come with the service immediately, and customers already in possession of one of those 8 handsets will be able to retrospectively activate CWM.  All 4 majors are on board, but over 50% of the catalogue on offer will be domestic (i.e. Mandarin language).

This is definitely an interesting step – in a country where music is essentially free anyway, will the chance of getting this entire catalogue (clean and DRM-free) on your phone prove attractive to potential consumers? Whatever happens, it is good news for the virtually non-existent market for recorded music…

Happy weekend!

The Growth of digital music in China

…albeit from a low base.

CHINA DIGITAL MUSIC MARKET TO IMPROVE STEADILY: IRESEARCH

BEIJING – China’s digital music market is expected to continue the steady development in 2010 and realize a market revenue of 2.15 billion yuan (US$315 million) in 2011, according to iResearch, the market research company.

The industry’s revenue is estimated to hit 1.79 billion yuan in 2009, up 8.2 per cent year on year. The growth rate has dropped slightly from 8.8 per cent in 2008, probably due a slowdown in the wireless music business section, the revenue of which accounts for more than 90 per cent of the industry’s total.

Beggar’s Group to take over China?

Iconic record label group Beggars (home to XL, Matador, 4AD, Rough Trade) has today formally begun operations in China.  We knew about this a while back and we have also spotted a lot of activity on the social networks here (artist pages being set up, content being written), but the press release was issued today.  Beggars will be advised by Beijing based consultancy Outdustry.  Physical releases will be through local label Jingwen and Taiwanese label Hi-Note, online and mobile distribution through the online store Wawawa.

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Music Matters Tidbits

The Radar recently came across this Larry LeBlanc (former longtime editor of Billboard Canada) interview with Jasper Donat. Donat, co-founder and executive director of Hong Kong-based entertainment marketing agency Branded, is also the president of Branded’s annual music industry conference, Music Matters, which we liveblogged last year and which we are psyched for this year. The interview contains some good insights on what the future holds for the music industry in Asia. Some of Donat’s notable quotables after the jump. But first, some more mindblowing China numbers from LeBlanc:

“In contrast to the Western culture, Asian youth prefer to download their favorite songs on to their mobile devices rather than computers. According to Chinese government figures, about 84% of China’s nearly 300 million Internet users download music over the Internet, and most of it is used for cell phone ring tones. In April, 2008, China Mobile started its testing of the third generation (3G) of mobile communication in 8 cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang and Xiamen). While test results have not been made public, it predicted that the 3G usage will surge up to 100 million in China by 2011.”

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That Google Deal

The recent Google/ Top 100 deal which will

  • help Google to compete with Baidu
  • help artists/ labels to get paid at least something for their goods

has been widely discussed.   In this article, “media futurist” Gerd Leonard argues very coherently why the Chinese music industry, long viewed as the world’s dirty secret, may indeed be showing the rest of the world the way.

Baidu gets rumbled…

Last week, the Register did an in-depth study into the well known, but never-proved use of deep linking to pirate MP3′s for download.  Baidu, the Chinese search engine with a 70% share of the local search market, has achieved this position through a combination of first mover advantage and more relevant Mandarin language search results.  However, it has always been speculated that the real reason for Baidu’s popularity has been the search results to music tracks hosted on (their own?) servers in China.

Read the Register article here and some excellent commentary by

Silicon Hutong

Music 2.0

Google China + Top100.cn = Free Music

Encroaching on Baidu’s territory, Google China this month launched its free music search-and-download service. The advertising-supported feature is a partnership between Google China and Top100.cn, the country’s largest online music store.


While Baidu has come under fire from the music industry for linking to third-party illegal downloads, all search results from the new Google portal will lead to a path to legal (but free!) downloads from Top100.cn.
Reuters quotes Google China President Kai-fu Lee as saying that, “the internet industry should by no means stand in the opposite camp against the music industry.” We like his thinking, and hope that Top100’s music catalogue will be able to compete with Baidu’s, which is unfettered by questions of legality.

Presenting Wawawa: China’s Answer to iTunes?

Partnering with IODA, Beijing-based digital music provider R2G launched the Wawawa (for the moment, Internet Explorer only now Firefox-friendly) online music store this month. The subscriber-based model has a catalogue of over one million full-length recordings of international music, and could present a welcome alternative to the “short tail” pirated recordings found on Chinese search portals like Baidu.

It’s an interesting and ambitious project, and time will tell if China’s netizens will warm to the idea of paying for mp3s. No word in the below press release on how the songs will be priced, but if Wawawa is user-friendly, tailored to the Chinese market and to individual subscribers, and attractively priced, it may just achieve a critical mass (we’re thinking of iTunes here), where customers are willing to shell out money for a breadth and depth of catalogue with reliably better quality recordings than Baidu’s current offerings.

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