Earlier this month, TikTok owner ByteDance debuted a music streaming service called Qishui Yinyue in China. Now, amid continued legal hurdles and enhanced competition, Tencent Music (NYSE: TME) is zeroing in on the international market with the rollout of a global distribution service.
Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) – which operates QQ Music, Kugou, Kuwo, and a karaoke app called WeSing – unveiled the global distribution option, “One-Click For All,” via a formal release that was emailed to DMN.
As its name suggests, the just-revealed distribution tool enables creators on the Tencent Musician service “to distribute musical works, with one single click, to over 150 popular global platforms.” Said platforms include Apple Music, YouTube, and Spotify, TME relayed, and reach listeners in “more than 200 countries and regions.”
Tencent Music also communicated that it will provide participating musicians (TME’s Tencent Musician community encompassed 300,000 indie artists as of Q4 2021) with an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) for free. These professionals will then receive “up to 70%” of their income from the global distribution tool “after subtracting the service fee,” higher-ups indicated.
As noted at the outset, Tencent Music’s pivot to the international music market arrives as heightened competition from ByteDance’s streaming platform as well as NetEase Cloud Music (in which Sony Music possesses a material interest) is fundamentally changing China’s audio-entertainment space.
ByteDance has faced comparatively mild regulatory scrutiny from the Chinese government, whereas TME was made to give up its exclusive music deals last year, before Beijing outlawed exclusive contracts outright to kick off 2022.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned NetEase Cloud Music is suing Tencent Music “for unfair competition,” according to a concise (English-language) release emailed to DMN today.
NetEase Cloud Music likewise announced the legal action in a comparatively lengthy Mandarin post published across Chinese social media services, complete with images of the purported infringement.
In brief, NetEase Cloud Music is alleging that Tencent’s music streaming company committed “malicious infringement” by playing “copyrighted songs without authorization” and “secretly” released NetEase “works through the ‘Import External Playlist’ function” on QQ Music.
Tencent Music – which was worth $4.07 per share when the market closed today – also “batches unauthorized popular songs for fake and malicious interception,” the plaintiff maintains, while QQ, Kugou, and Kuwo alike are said to have “plagiarized [the] NetEase Cloud Music vinyl play page design.”
Last month, TikTok (known as Douyin in China) launched a distribution and marketing service, “SoundOn,” and Tencent Music is scheduled to post its Q1 2022 earnings on Tuesday, May 17th.