Digital music industry in China - statistics & facts

With “access” being the buzzword of the present age, music streaming has gone from being a trend to the norm. China poses a fertile market with about 770 million digital music users as of 2020, which is expected to rise by another 30 million in 2023. After exponential growths in the recent few years, the Chinese digital music market was expected to reach its saturation level slowly.

This multi-million-dollar market was majorly sustained by the distribution of recorded music as opposed to live music in China. Undoubtedly, it was music streaming holding the largest share of revenue generated by the industry, equivalent to more than 700 million U.S. dollars in 2019. As of June 2021, the online music streaming userbase in the country figured around 680 million users, most of them accessing these services via smartphones.

Who are making a mint with music sales?

It is worth noting that Chinese songs are the most popular choice among different age groups in the country. When it comes to online digital music sales, Chinese male singers often pop up in the chart: Hua Chenyu (the winner of the 2013 Super Boy singing contest), Cai Xukun (Chinese boy group Nine Percent’s leader), and other idols with a South Korean-Chinese boyband background like Xiao Zhan, Wang Yibo, and Lay Zhang. Chris Lee was the only homegrown female music artist who could make to the top 10 best-seller ranking. On the other side, the appeal of Korean and American pop music had also rooted in young generations. South Korean music groups like Blackpink and BTS, and American singers like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber had gained huge popularity in the Chinese market.

The Achilles' heel

Currently, Tencent and NetEase were leading the music streaming sector in China. Tencent owns some of the largest music platforms – KuGou Music, QQ Music, and Kuwo Music. As of September 2021, KuGou Music was the top Chinese music app with about 322 million monthly active users, followed by QQ Music. Of these KuGou Music was found to be used more by people falling within the 19 to 28 years age group, while QQ Music was better preferred by older users. When faced with the choice of paying for access to their choice of music, most Chinese consumers preferred to look for a free source instead. The most commonly touted reason to not pay was the possibility to listen to music for free. This poses a dilemma for the Chinese digital music industry.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 31 most important statistics relating to "Digital music industry in China".


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