Undaunted by China's rampant piracy, Taiwanese music-download service Ezpeer and Kuro, previously Taiwan's largest unauthorized P2P platform, will jointly launch a PC-based music-download service in mainland China on July 9.

It will mark the first time a Taiwan-based company has launched a legal music-download service in mainland China.

The new Beijing-based joint venture will be named Kuro. The brand name is well-known in China because of the firm's previous incarnation as an unauthorized file-sharing service that was popular on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Taipei-based Ezpeer president Alin Wu declines to specify the size of Ezpeer's and Kuro's respective stakes in the new company, and says the name of its president/CEO will be announced when the service begins operating.

As expected, the venture will work with several Chinese digital music-player manufacturers, which will sell players with 50 preloaded songs sourced through the new mainland edition of the Kuro service, Wu tells Billboard.biz.

Purchasers of the players will be able to buy "recharge cards" that enable them to download additional songs from the Chinese Kuro site, he adds.

All of the players will have 1 GB data-storage capacity and will sell for 199 yuan ($26.12) each, Wu says.

At a press conference held in Beijing today, Kuro also unveiled a mobile phone. The handsets are installed with Kuro's software which enables playback of music file downloads from its Web site. Taipei-based Foxlink is making the devices.

Aside from songs currently available on Ezpeer's Taiwanese site, the mainland China site will also offer content from unspecified major Chinese record labels, according to Wu. Users will be charged an as-yet undecided fee for individual downloads.

Further details on the Kuro and Ezpeer joint venture, and manufacturing partners will be unveiled at a July 9 press conference in Beijing.

Wu says that if this business model works in China, Ezpeer will consider implementing it in the Taiwan market.

Last October Taipei-based Kuro transformed itself to a video- and audio-content provider called "Kuroom" after shutting down its illegal P2P platform in September. Although Kuro still maintains a website, since May 22 users clicking on track listings have been automatically redirected to Ezpeer's site.

Ezpeer currently has 2 million registered members, of whom 200,000 pay NT$149 ($4.50) a month for its download service

Ezpeer's 1.8 million non-paying members can listen to 30 minutes of streaming audio a day free of charge.

Ezpeer says it hopes to have 350,000 paid subscribers by the end of 2007.

Tagged