This week, indie distributors TuneCore and CD Baby each entered partnerships with Chinese music streaming giant Tencent, bringing their artists’ recordings to a massive new listener base.
The partnerships include the Tencent-owned streaming platforms QQMusic, KuGou and Kuwo, which together pull in 652 million mobile monthly active users.
Going forward, the added distribution comes at no extra cost for artists under CD Baby, which says it has 750,000 registered artists, and TuneCore, which says it has 250,000. On TuneCore, registered artists who want to send previously-released music to Tencent now must pay a one-time fee of $1.98.
“We create partnerships, tools and services that bring the greatest possible value to musicians,” said TuneCore CEO Scott Ackerman, “and this alliance with Tencent Music is a tremendous opportunity in a fast-growing and sought-after market.”
CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux explained in a statement that China’s huge population, coupled with high mobile phone usage and low cost bandwidth, make the region extremely valuable for developing artists. “Making our members’ music available in the world’s largest market for streaming subscribers offers tremendous potential for independent and emerging artists to be heard and connect with fans,” he said.
China was the world’s seventh-largest music market in 2018, according to the IFPI — and Tencent appears to be the way in. Back in 2017, Tencent and Spotify agreed to buy minority equity stakes in each other. Universal Music Group is currently in talks with Tencent to buy a 10% stake in UMG.
Meanwhile, Tencent is under investigation by China’s competition regulator, reportedly around Tencent’s exclusive deals with international majors Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music.