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Universal Music Signs Global Publishing Agreement to Rep Some of China’s Biggest Acts

UMP China will now handle administration for RYCE Publishing, including some of China's biggest pop hits and Greater China rights over key K-Pop act copyrights.

Universal Music Publishing China (UMP China) has signed a global publishing agreement with RYCE Publishing, a music and entertainment company with an over 700-song catalog. RYCE will use UMP China as its publishing administrator for some of China’s biggest C-pop songs from chart-topping artists like Jackson Wang.

Through the deal, UMP China will provide global infrastructure and opportunities for RYCE’s roster as well as handle the Greater China rights for hundreds of major K-Pop hits that are under RYCE’s control including from Korean acts GOT7 and TWICE.

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“We saw the rise of J-pop three decades ago and its massive influence on audiences across Asia. Now K-pop is a global phenomenon as we all know, and there has been a very key bridging force between these genres in the last two decades,” says Joe Fang, managing director of UMP China. “With China rising to become the sixth biggest music market of the world, I believe the time of C-pop is here. RYCE Publishing, with its hybrid talents and border-crossing catalogs, is a central piece of that next bridging force and I’m thrilled that UMPG will play an instrumental role in supporting these future chapters of music history.”

Joe Fang
Joe Fang Courtesy Photo

UMP China will now administer top tier C-Pop songs in the RYCE catalog, including “Manual to Youth” and “Adore” performed by TFBOYS; “100 Ways,” “I Love You 3000,” co-written and performed by Jackson Wang (王嘉尔); “Jiao Huan” performed by Zhou Shen(周深), “EASIER,” performed by Amber Liu (刘逸云) featuring Jackson Wang and “Xiao Juan,” performed by Sitar Tan(谭维维).

On the K-Pop side, UMP China will now help RYCE Publishing with the promotion of Korean hits for acts like Super Junior, EXO-CBX, GOT7, TWICE, and more in the Greater China region.

RYCE Publishing, is a division of RYCE Entertainment, an entertainment giant based in Beijing. With music publishing, agency, marketing, investing, and brand operating divisions, it specializes in managing music catalog and media resources.

UMP China’s partnership with the local company highlights Universal’s continued efforts to push deeper into China’s music business. Last year, UMP China expanded from its original Beijing headquarters to add a second office and studio space in Shanghai and has also focused on creating songwriting camps to foster the careers of local signees, including one all-female camp with She Is The Music.

China’s music market has grown in size by more than 30% in each of the past two years, according to IFPI, which said total revenues for 2020 were $791.9 million (the total for 2021 was not available). Meanwhile, royalties paid to songwriters and composers rebounded with 8.48 billion euros ($8.49 million) in 2021, a rise of 7.2% from 2020 — but still down 52% from the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, according to CISAC, the global rights management organization.

All three major labels continue to explore opportunities in China, even with the uncertainties surrounding government regulation of music and tech companies like Tencent Music Entertainment (which publishes Billboard China), which have been forced to end exclusive arrangements with the majors for their repertoire in the past two years. Those exclusive deals followed years in which China’s music industry was known for rampant piracy that made it tough to make money in the country.

“We hope that everyone respects music copyright,” says Yunyun Wang, managing director of RYCE Publishing. “If we could all do that, every artist in China music market will be motivated to work harder to make decent products, creating a healthy environment for us all.”

Daryl K, founder and CEO of RYCE Entertainment, says in a statement: “We protect and promote our writers with a vengeance and we’re excited to continue doing so with UMP China. We’re looking forward to the fruits of our partnership.”

Andrew Jenkins, president of Asia Pacific, UMPG, says that RYCE Publishing’s “remarkable creative drive has led to a huge number of hits and great commercial success for RYCE Publishing so far. I look forward to an even more successful future as both companies work together to further build on the global impact of RYCE Publishing in the coming years through this new agreement.”