With China’s economic boom, dense population, and growing middle class, it’s no surprise that the music industry in China is the next destination for international artists looking to expand their brand. If you’re a music artist, it’ll be of great interest for you to learn more about how to market music in China. In the grand scheme of things, the Chinese music industry is still a relatively untapped industry outside of China, but that’s changing very quickly.
Music streaming and live concerts are industries in China with vast potential, and are being recognized by musicians all over the world. In case you need more convincing, here are some quick stats that illustrate this point:
- In 2022, China is ranked the 6th largest music market in the world.
- In 2021, China placed second behind the US with $2 billion in digital music revenue. This number is expected to exceed US$3 billion by 2024.
- More than 650 million people in China stream music online. This number has increased by 80% over the last decade.
And these figures are in spite of the fact that China’s music market is still underdeveloped compared to major music producing countries like the US, Japan, and the UK.
However, entering the Chinese music market requires overcoming many regulations and cultural barriers. China has its own internet ecosystem and musical culture that is unique from other countries. Navigating around these hurdles requires an understanding of the Chinese music market and the most popular social media platforms that musicians should leverage for maximum exposure.
This article will cover the most important platforms you should be using to market music in China. As an international artist, your strategy should be focussed on leveraging different Chinese social media to introduce your music and brand to Chinese consumers. That way, you can reach more audiences and grow your fanbase, which will translate into more music streams.
Netease Cloud Music
Outside of China, the most popular music streaming platforms used are Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Deezer. In China, consumers use domestic versions of these platforms – similar to how they use domestic social media apps instead of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Another difference is that Chinese music streaming apps are free to use and do not require a subscription (unless you wish to pay for additional features), which makes them more accessible amongst consumers.
QQ Music, KuGou, and Kuwo (all owned by Tencent) are technically the largest music streaming services in China. However, we recommend that you concentrate your time and efforts on leveraging Netease Cloud Music.
Netease Cloud Music is the biggest music streaming rival to Tencent’s platforms. It is considered the trendy music streaming service predominantly used by millennials and Gen Zers, and boasts a large collection of the latest contemporary popular music genres.
What makes Netease stand out from its Chinese and even international rivals is its unique social feature that allows users to comment and like content within the app. Think of Netease as a music-based social media app, which encourages both artists and listeners to connect, build communities and interact with each other.
This feature is perfect for musicians looking to introduce their music and brand to Netease’s large user base. To increase your follower base, you’ll need to actively put work in engaging in relevant communities within the app. For example, if you’re an EDM producer, you should connect with other EDM producers, EDM fans, and comment on their content. This will expose you to those who are active participants in the comment section.
If you’ve already accumulated a following on Netease, you should be making the effort in responding to comments posted by your followers! Take Charlie Puth for example. On the day that his much anticipated single ‘Light Switch’ was released, Charlie Puth personally responded to his fans’ comments on the song. Taking the time to connect with your fans is a great indicator that you want to build a relationship with your listeners, and it will definitely boost your image!
Weibo is China’s equivalent of Twitter. As a musician, it’s important to be on all the biggest social media platforms so that users can find and follow your work. Moreover, musicians use these platforms to post announcements and connect with their followers. It is also an opportunity to potentially go viral and expedite the growing of your fan base.
With 573 million monthly active users in 2021, you should be on Weibo. Open a verified official account and start creatively leveraging Weibo’s features. Acquire new fans by reaching out to popular KOLs and fellow artists within your music genre that could help you grow your audience. And for your existing followers, make sure that you consistently post a variety of content (pictures, videos, announcements, etc.) that engages your followers. That way, they won’t forget you!
Start collaborating with popular KOLs in China. Contact Gab China for a free consultation.
The most popular and trendiest short video sharing platform in the world right now is TikTok (or Douyin in China). The majority of viral video content and trends derive from this app, and many famous music artists and influencers that you know today raised their profile through producing viral content on Douyin/TikTok.
When scrolling through your Douyin feed, you may have noticed that the current trending videos use the same tracks as the background music. These tracks are so widely used amongst TikTok video creators that they become instantly recognizable to viewers. So much so that these songs can become annoyingly catchy and hard to forget!
The next time you come across a viral TikTok video, find out the artist of the track and you’ll more than likely notice that the artist isn’t a recognizable name. This indicates how effective Douyin can be in exposing your music to a huge audience – especially to those that wouldn’t normally consume your genre of music. Use this knowledge and contact popular Douyin KOLs that could feature your music in their videos.
Gab China can connect you with China’s popular KOLs to help grow your brand. Contact us for more information.
If you’re up for producing video content on Douyin yourself, then there are many avenues you can take to engage with your audience. This includes live-streaming, short videos, collabs, tutorials, song covers, and skits.
Charlie Puth also leveraged Douyin/TikTok creatively with a series of videos that were largely responsible for the hype generated for the release of his single ‘Light Switch’. These videos consisted of Puth showing the process behind producing the track in a lighthearted and humorous fashion.
Similar to Netease Cloud Music, Bilibili is another trendy platform used by millennials and Gen Zers. Bilibili is considered the Chinese version of YouTube, and with 271 million monthly active users, is another important platform that you should integrate into your marketing strategy.
Similar to Douyin, you can also use Bilibili as an opportunity to find and collaborate with relevant KOLs and musicians within your genre to feature your music. Or, you could open your own channel and produce videos. Posting tutorials can be a great way to interact with your audience, by providing value and education to followers interested in music production/performance.