Alibaba, the Chinese web commerce giant whose stock serves double-duty as Yahoo’s revenue shield, has announced the formation of a division to focus on the music industry.
The company’s news site, Alizila, reported on June 20 that Alibaba, which boasts a market capitalization of $207 billion, had made an announcement of the launch on June 15, though no statement to that effect is visible on the company’s site.
Alibaba Music Group will be run by chairman Gao Xiaosong, a singer-songwriter and talk show host, and CEO Song Ke, a former executive with Warner Music. One of the company’s first announcements was that it will fold its two existing music streaming apps, Xiami — which Alibaba acquired in 2013 — and Tiantian into one.
“It is hoped that [Gao and Song] will creatively disrupt and catalyze the music industry… combining their cumulative experience… with Alibaba’s capabilities in the Internet space and big data,” Alibaba said in a statement.
While Alibaba Music Group is entering a crowded international market, it is one of the few companies in China that can operate at scale in that country’s fraught music space (it established a framework to support international intellectual copyrights in the ’90s), along with Baidu, Tencent and Youku.
In March of this year Alibaba signed a distribution agreement with BMG, giving the company legal access to 2.5 million song copyrights including Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones. It also was reported to be planning a $200 million investment in another hot tech company, Snapchat. Its chief rival, Tencent, announced deals with Sony Music and Warner Music Group in late 2014.