Unable to stand out on their catalog, accessible to all without the need to pay fees, the music platforms compete ingenuity to offer their users a variety of services and activities. For example, KuGou, which is particularly popular in small towns and rural areas, had 229 million users at the beginning of the year.
Entering the KuGou application (“cool dog”) is like going through the door of a giant karaoke, and passing the head in each room: on hundreds of live channels, it is possible to listen to anonymous sing, with more or less talent. We can also follow more professional singers, who give voice to thousands of fans – girls, overwhelmingly – in front of a pastel decor.
On the screen, the lyrics of the song parade and, on the sides, enthusiastic fans publish their comments. To be able to join the concert of applause, it is necessary to pay a few yuan and to send emoticons in the form of hands which applaud (1 centime of Yuan), of “iPhone X” (80 yuan, that is 10 euros), or of BMW (1,000 yuan, about 130 euros).
Need to specialize
Two years ago, the Chinese musical landscape was highly competitive. But by buying China Music Corporation (which launched KuGou and Kuwo), in 2016, Tencent took control of the bulk of the domestic market. Today, nearly 75% of the traffic goes through its applications: QQ Music targets both traditional and urban users, while KuGou and Kuwo target a more popular audience, offering karaoke and specific song lists for dancing, for children …
With the WeChat social network (more than a billion users) and the QQ instant messaging system (802 million users), Tencent can also direct more users to its music platforms.
Faced with this domination, the other players had to specialize: NetEase, number 2 with 16% of market share according to the data center of China Internet (DCCI), has invested in the production of independent musicians. The NetEase Cloud Music platform claims 70,000, and produces programs to highlight them. Other competitors such as Baidu Music or Xiami, with less than 5% market share, are out of date.