Alibaba Releases Planet, a First-Of-Its-Kind, All-In-One Music App

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Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma speaks during the Boao Forum For Asia Annual Conference on March 23, 2016 in Qionghai, Hainan Province of China.

Alibaba, the Chinese digital commerce giant with a market capitalization of $198.76 billion as of this writing (putting it just behind Visa and just ahead of Chevron, worldwide), has announced the launch of Alibaba Planet, a new music-focused platform the company says will facilitate fan-to-artist relations -- and vice-versa.

The first "tier" of the new platform allows fans to buy merchandise, watch live streams of performances and stream music; things previously made possible on competing platforms like Spotify through its deal with Bandpage -- at least, before its recent acquisition by YouTube. The company says it has licensing agreements with BMG and Universal Music Group. It makes no mention of either Warner Music Group or Sony Music.

Much like the core of Alibaba's business -- broadly speaking, the company connects sellers to buyers, both business-to-business, business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer -- the second tier of Alibaba Planet's is compelling, given the company's massive scale and the unique advantage Chinese companies were afforded in the wake of confusing new regulations on music streaming. Those rules, in effect, give Chinese companies -- or at least those with the Ministry of Culture on speed dial -- a significant advantage due to the foggy content requirements they place on music streaming catalogs.

"The platform is... open to composers, music producers, merchants, and other companies related to the music business that are looking for business opportunities," the company writes. "For instance, singers will be able to find songwriters and merchants will be able to seek out celebrity endorsements."

Essentially, Alibaba now has -- to Billboard's knowledge, at least -- the world's only combined music and video streaming, merchandise purchasing, a video streaming app and a business Craigslist exchange (or Taskrabbit?) in one package.

Alibaba expects to launch an English version of the app in the second half of this year.


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