China's Tencent, NetEase Sign Licensing Deal for 1.5 Million Songs

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The loading page for Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s messaging application QQ is displayed on an iPhone. 

QQ Music, the digital music platform of Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, unveiled a deal late Tuesday with rival streaming service NetEase that will boost the availability of legal and licensed online music to listeners in the country.

Under the agreement, Tencent has sublicensed some 1.5 million digital songs to NetEase, and the two partners will explore opportunities to collaborate on digital album sales.

QQ Music's licensed library currently contains over 15 million authorized songs from companies including Sony Music, Warner Music Group and YG Entertainment.

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The deal is the first major partnership announced in response to strict new anti-piracy rules China introduced for the streaming music sector last summer. At the start of July, China's National Copyright Administration ordered the country's fast-growing streaming companies to remove all unlicensed music from their services by the end of the month, or face "serious punishment."

For years, Chinese listeners had been accustomed to getting music for free from myriad online channels and apps, much of it not legally licensed.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.