Let this be a stunning statistical warning for all ye who dare enter the Chinese music market. Because even if you manage to crack into China politically, you’ll have an incredibly difficult time selling stuff once you’re in.
Here’s a topline look at just how few Chinese people are actually buying music. In fact, the per-capita spend on music is a paltry 10 cents, according to a breakdown by global industry group IFPI. Compare that to per-capita spends of $14.30 in the US, and $34.70 in Japan (which could soon be the largest music market in the world).
Welcome to the land of near-zero intellectual property protection. While IP at least remains a testy battleground in the US, most stuff is cracked, cloned, or otherwise compromised in China. Indeed, it’s surprising that 10 cents of anything music-related is being sold.
So, stay away, stay very far away? Perhaps: regardless of the vast theoretical potential here, China is showing scant signs of improvement. Unlike Japan, physical accounts for less than 20 percent of total music sales, also according to the IFPI. And more lucrative digital assets like downloads and ringtones are quickly receding.
It’s an ad-supported, maybe subscription-oriented future, if there’s a future at all for this market.
Written while listening to Vampire Weekend.