HANGZHOU, China, March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - Japan's largest entertainment group, Avex, and China's digital music platform, NetEase Cloud Music, recently announced the signing of an exclusive copyright agreement, whereby the Chinese platform will be granted the exclusive license to the copyright of Avex's complete back catalog of Japanese music, and will act as its agent in mainland China in building a legal framework for Avex's digital music inventory. In addition to overseeing Avex's digital music album releases, NetEase will also manage the Japanese firm's publicity and marketing campaigns, with the specific aim of becoming mainland China's most popular digital music platform for copyrighted Japanese music. After a six-year absence, Avex is again entering China's music market.
Since 2015, China's National Copyright Administration has issued several new policies, greatly enhancing the standardization of copyright for the digital music market in mainland China. These efforts have served to revitalize the Chinese music market. It is no coincidence that Avex has now decided to re-enter the market.
Avex is Japan's largest music firm, and for many years has continuously led the market in terms of record sales in the country. Under its label, Avex boasts names such as Ayumi Hamasaki, Every Little Thing, Kumi Koda, Ai Otsuka, AAA and the Wagakki Band as well as a number of other popular Japanese artists. As early as 1998, Avex had established a base in Taiwan from which it eventually entered the mainland China market, and subsequently followed the move with a branch office in Shanghai. However, six years later Avex withdrew from the market due to a number of factors, the most prominent of which was the rise of online music piracy.
This collaboration between NetEase Cloud Music and Avex could well set a precedent for the possibilities that Japanese music has in the mainland Chinese market in terms of availability and popularity. Prior to this agreement, there was a huge disconnect between China's online music platforms and what Japanese copyright holders expected in terms of protecting their rights. The user experience was far from ideal, and it became harder and harder to satisfy the growing demand from Chinese audiophiles who had discovered and fallen in love with Japanese music.
The reasons Avex had for choosing NetEase Cloud as their exclusive copyright agent are not difficult to comprehend: since formally coming online in April 2013, the Chinese music platform has built a fan base of more than 200 million audiophiles, and is one of the three dominant players in the market. In addition, NetEase Cloud Music has developed an excellent brand reputation and is now a buzz-word in China's online music world. Meanwhile, its fan base has created over 200 million song lists and generated 400 million reviews and commentaries. The creation of such an environment where the music can be easily sampled and streamed has undoubtedly been a great stride forward for the music industry. It is due to these factors that NetEase has developed a reputation as China's best music platform.
As a result, NetEase Cloud Music now has a vested interest, not only in Japan's music industry, but also in the government's efforts to strengthen copyright protections, yet, ultimately, the key to the success of both lies in the Avex-NetEase collaboration. As NetEase's usage data demonstrates, streaming of Japanese music, including songs associated with Japanese animation, comics and games (ACG), achieved extraordinary growth in 2016, with the number of streams increasing by as much as 80% from the previous year. Streams of ACG-related songs increased 280% from 2015, while users born in the 1990's and the new millennium made up the largest proportion of NetEase's fan base. To make up for the lost time as a result of being absent from the mainland Chinese market for several years, Avex sees the collaboration with NetEase Cloud Music, a carefully selected partner, to be the best way to accelerate the expansion into this market, and, in return, fully expects to reap the rewards.
Moreover, NetEase Cloud Music relies on the higher level of sophistication of its fan base and the social interaction between the fans, as well as the superior quality of its payment system. The 2016 results revealed that paid membership had increased 9 times from the previous year, while digital album purchases had increased 7 times, and the average amount of time spent daily per user on the NetEase platform had increased by 1.5 hours. Amongst the most popular Chinese-language albums were Jay Chou's 'Jay Chou's Bedside Story', folk singer Zhao Lei's 'Cannot Grow Up', Li Zhi's 'Through Every Sad Street', and Chen Li's 'Reams of Dream'. Sales of these digital albums had brought in on average more than 1 million yuan each. Considering the conditions of the current market, the sales figures are very impressive.
The Chinese music market has a new found respect for copyright laws. Even beyond the efforts of NetEase Cloud Music and other digital music platforms, a culture of paying for music is finally being established. For Avex and other such music firms, this opens up huge new market potential. For Chinese foreign music lovers, the introduction of a more open minded music copyright environment, will undoubtedly give them a richer online music experience.
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SOURCE NetEase Cloud Music