Thursday, July 21, 2011

China's Baidu Makes A Music Deal We Can't Refuse

If you're an artist or songwriter who's not from China, the name Baidu probably doesn't mean anything to you, but it should. Baidu is the Google of China, being the dominant search engine in that part of the world with over 450 million users, and servicing more than 75% of Chinese users. It's also been one of the main sources for pirated content, just a part of the haven for illegal content that China has become during just about all of the digital music age.

That could be changing soon, because as China becomes more and more sophisticated business-wise, it's finally also becoming a lot more sensitive to intellectual property rights as well. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Tuesday when Baidu announced a major licensing deal with Universal Music Group, the Warner Music Group and Sony BMG, which would allow Chinese Web users to finally legally download and stream hundreds of thousands of songs free.

According to the New York Times, "Under the two-year deal between Baidu and One-Stop China, the three music labels will license over 500,000 songs, about 10 percent of them in Mandarin and Cantonese, which will be stored on Baidu’s servers and available for free streaming and download on the site’s ad-supported MP3 search page and social music platform, Ting."

How much will artists and songwriters actually see from this deal? Probably not much right now, but it does set in motion at least another income stream for the future. Music 3.0 means that even though the major sources of income are smaller, there are more of them, and any new ones, however small, are found money nonetheless. 

Read the full text of the NYT article here.

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