Last week the Foreign Correspondents’ Club hosted a panel on China’s Music Industry, looking at how home-grown music scenes beyond the major music capitals are drawing increasing amounts of attention both within the country and abroad. A lot of attention was also focused on the impact of digital services such as Xiami on artists’ careers.
One of the most interesting points raised relates to the actual acquisition of copyrights (provided we’ve interpreted this correctly) by tech conglomerates (Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba). This potentially redirects the axis of power from the old-school labels that monopolise China’s music industry (through their involvement in censorship for example), to digital music services.
Wang Hao, Xiami’s chief executive officer was quoted as saying:
“Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba are signing a lot of exclusive copyright deals; they’re investing heavily, contrary to what we’ve seen in the past. These huge conglomerates can invest in acquiring copyrights and then enforce them.”
It’s not clear if we’re talking full-on assignment of rights (which is totally contrary to the model established in the West) or licensing, but either way this can only encourage the development of walled gardens – with some artists’ music being available exclusively to certain devices / ISP etc versus others.