The days of free music downloads may soon be at an end in China. Several local media outlets recently carried stories saying that major recording companies, including Universal Music Group, Warner and SONY BMG Music Entertainment are working on creating paid monthly downloading services in partnership with Chinese music websites such as kugou.com, baidu.com and qq.com. The service could be launched at the end of this year or early next year.
Undoubtedly, recording giants are eager to divert the 1.8 billion yuan ($288 million) that is generated every year from music piracy into their own coffers. However, these companies may soon find that few Internet users in China are willing to pay for music.
Music websites could learn from the country's video streaming platforms, which earn money from advertisements. Listeners could, for example, be exposed to an advertisement at the beginning of a song. Not only would music lovers continue to hear songs for free, but record companies and site operators could also make a profit.
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