K-pop powerhouse HYBE has inked a music distribution deal with China’s Tencent Music Entertainment.
According to reports from The Seoul Economic Daily, the deal will see HYBE artists available on streaming platforms owned by Tencent, including QQ Music, KuGou Music, KuWo Music, and WeSing. The deal echoes the “deep strategic cooperation” teased by Tencent Music last week. The collaboration will also see HYBE artists promoted on these platforms. K-pop artists like BTS, SEVENTEEN, and TXT are very popular in China—but China only accounts for 1% of HYBE’s sales. Excluding Korea, 32.7% of its business comes from the Japanese market.
The new deal will help HYBE begin expanding its ambitions in the Chinese music market. Reports suggest HYBE has already begun recruiting Chinese personnel to establish business operations for a stronger local presence. HYBE Chairman Bang Si Hyuk notes China’s market continues to grow, despite challenges faced by the CCP’s ‘Hallyu restrictions’ designed to ban Korean media content.
Over 700 million people in China listen to music streaming platforms, with Tencent Music’s umbrella serving 90% of that number. Tencent’s online music revenue reached $510 million in Q1 2023, with over 94.4 million paid members.
During the fight for the acquisition of SM, HYBE mentioned that it was planning to expand its presence in China. Despite that deal falling through, it appears as though HYBE is continuing with its China expansion plans. SEVENTEEN’s latest album sales saw around half come from China (2M of 4M sales), with many other groups seeing the majority of their sales from China, too.
Seventeen’s 10th EP, FML set a new record for first-week sales by a K-pop album, selling four million in its first day alone. That’s the biggest first-week sales of an album in K-pop history, beaking BTS’ record set in February 2020 with the release of Map of the Soul: 7.