LONDON – Warner Music Group is aligning its senior leadership team in one of the world’s biggest music markets with the promotion of Andy Ma to the new role of CEO, Warner Music Greater China, responsible for the company’s operations in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Ma joined Warner in 2011 and has headed its China division since 2018, when he was appointed executive vp commercial and business development for Greater China.
The exec’s promotion extends his remit to Hong Kong and Taiwan, which were previously run as individual territories rather than under one unit. Warner Music said Ma’s appointment would create more opportunities for development and growth across the three markets and help drive the label’s long-term success in the region.
China has long been plagued by piracy and a culture of not paying for music, but streaming has rapidly transformed the country’s record business. In 2018, music sales in China grew to $531 million, according to IFPI, making it the world’s seventh-largest recorded music market, ahead of Australia, Canada and Brazil.
Streaming made up 90% of total music sales ($478 million). But in contrast to many of the world’s leading markets, it was ad-supported streaming on licensed services like QQ Music, Kugou, and Xiami that provided the largest share of revenues.
When music sales in Hong Kong and Taiwan are taken into account, Greater China overtakes South Korea to stand at number six in the world rankings.
“East meets West is a mega global music trend that nobody can ignore,” says Ma. “It’s such an exciting time in Greater China with new scenes exploding in genres from hip-hop to dance.”
Ma will be based in Warner’s Beijing office and continue to report to Simon Robson, the president of Warner Music Asia.
Robson calls Ma a “great innovative and commercial leader” and says he had been instrumental in helping forge the modern Chinese music business.
“Now this new role will allow him to combine the firepower of our operations in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei to amplify our artists in Greater China, Asia and internationally,” says Robson.
Warner has been steadily growing its presence in Greater China ever since it acquired Gold Typhoon Group, one of the region’s largest independent music companies, in 2014. Popular local acts signed to the Warner roster include Dear Jane, Jam Hsiao, Janice Vidal and JJ Lin.
Ma helped shape Warner Music’s partnership with China Mobile and a number of other leading digital partners across Asia. He’s also credited with playing a key role in developing Warner’s strategic relationship with Chinese tech company Tencent, which owns digital music services QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo, and recently acquired a 10% stake in Universal Music Group.
The leadership reshuffle at the top of Warner’s China division comes just a few weeks after the company opened its first dedicated office in Vietnam, headed by Lisa Nguyen, and a month after it announced a new office in India, headed by Jay Mehta.
Warner Music Group’s increased investment in Asia and India reflects a wider industry pattern of music companies seeking to develop regional talent in emerging markets.
Last September, Universal Music Group opened a new Southeast Asia headquarters in Singapore, supporting A&R and marketing teams in Malaysia, Indonesia, Indochina, Thailand, and the Philippines — a territory that encompasses some 650 million people.
A few months later, UMG launched Red Records, a joint-venture label with AirAsia Group, focused on developing the next generation of Asian pop stars.
The start of the year, meanwhile, saw Sony Music Entertainment announce the opening of new hubs throughout Asia and the Middle East, leading Sony Music Group chairman Rob Stringer to hail both territories as “key emerging drivers of the global music industry.”