Stronger Together? Continued Consolidation Between Digital Music Services

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According to QQ Tech blog, Xiami and Dongting – two of the country’s major music streaming services – are being merged into “Ali Music”, which is owned by none other than Alibaba Group. Alibaba announced the decision after Spring Festival, with the idea being to maximize the commercial value of both platforms by focusing on differentiating them according to their very specific user bases.

Xiami will be targeted at professional musicians (we’re thinking Bandcamp / CRM functionality) while Dongting will focus on public users. The project is being headed by Alibaba Digital Entertainment Group president Chun-Ning Liu (刘春宁).

Ali Music is trying to expand its copyright assets and will use Xiami and Donting’s established relationships to further Alibaba’s drive into the media industries. Ali Music claims that it now owns exclusive access to the catalogues of well-known record companies in the region, including Rock Records, Bin-Music and HIM International Music (covering high-profile acts such as Yoga Lin, Jonathan lee, Hebe and Mayday).

The purported goal of Ali Music is to set up its own music ecosystem. Companies can find suitable musicians or bands to be the spokespeople of their brands, while record companies can realize their artist development plans by utilizing resources and data from Taobao and Tmall in order to maximize potential commercial value. There is also an “Ali Musicians” project in the works.

There are rumors that Kugou and Kuwo will also be merged into Sootoo Music, which is preparing its IPO and is hoping to be ready for overseas listing by the end of the year. This will leave a digital music ecosystem which is dominated by Sootoo Music, Ali Music and QQ Music, with others including Duomi being left to fend for themselves in a pretty fierce competitive terrain.

At the Radar we previously talked about the “winning combination” of tech + content licenses. It was only a matter of time. The gluttonous tech co’s are buying up licenses on the cheap and using them to safeguard themselves from a future where the distinction between platforms and the content that forms their lifeblood continues to diminish, to the point where it will all be incubated in-house. But there will always be the fringe: those operating on the outskirts, trying to make a living alongside the little men/women. Tech startups are the new indie artists of our age, so even if (when) we find that 80% of digital music content is only accessible on 20% of the platforms (or even less), we can still support those looking to create the next disruption.

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