China’s changing music listening habits

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Long gone are the days of cassette tapes and CDs. In China alone, the digital music industry is now standing at over 53 billion yuan or 7.9 billion US dollars.

In the past decade, this has boosted profits for Chinese artists enormously. If you look back ten years, it was very difficult for music fans to be able to buy what they wanted in the shops because the distribution networks were very poor. There was also a big issue with piracy, with 99% of music listened to in China coming from illegal pirate sources.  But the arrival of legitimate streaming services has changed all this and now China’s music industry is thriving.

Has streaming taken over downloads?

It turns out that we’re not actually bothered about owning the music anymore, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have taken over. We are simply not paying to download anymore as enthusiasm for streaming has finally moved China into the the top ten consumers of recorded music in the world. In fact 70% of all Chinese music revenue has come from streaming.

If we consider that the 16-24 year age group spend on average over 20 hours a week listening to music on digital speakers or personal listening devices, it is no surprise. Additionally, 96% of this streamed music comes from legal sources, China is no longer relying on piracy websites.

What language do they prefer to listen to?

According to Statista, 30% of Chinese people that are between the ages of 19 and 28 prefer to listen to English language music. However those older than the age of 28 listen to majority Chinese language music. This can differ greatly from one area to the next too. For instance in the mountain regions, Chinese Opera is still the most popular form of music. Whereas in Shanghai, it’s boy-girl bands and in Beijing, metal is the preferred choice and much of this in English. Streaming services like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are keeping track of listening habits in order to meet the demand for new music.

Moving karaoke forward in 2019

Whilst we are talking about the love of music in China, it is worth mentioning the rise of karaoke, which has been taking the country by storm over the past few years. In a recent survey, Quanmin K Ge found that 70% of their users spent 16 hours a month practising – China is fanatical about singing.  Last year however, KTV took 6,000 songs off of their music video system, as more and more people are turning to streaming services and other apps to get their fix of singalong classics. On the positive side, the removal of those 6,000 songs has also ensured compliance with copyright laws. Even karaoke is becoming legitimate, in much the same way that music has moved away from piracy.

Streaming services have indeed revolutionized China’s music listening habits with a whole world of music at listeners fingertips and the majority from legal services. This, in turn, can only help Chinese artists to gain more exposure and fuel more interest in Chinese music.

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