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Universal Music Group inks a pair of high-profile deals with Tencent & NetEase

As the US crackdown on Chinese apps continues, China welcomes the western entertainment giant

  • Olivia Wycech
  • 12 August 2020
Universal Music Group inks a pair of high-profile deals with Tencent & NetEase

Despite the ongoing turmoil surrounding China-based tech companies like TikTok and WeChat in the US, Universal Music Group (UMG) has just inked a pair of high-profile partnerships with two Chinese tech giants: Tencent Music Entertainment and its competitor NetEase.

A press release distributed on Monday outlined a licensing deal between UMG and NetEase Cloud Music that will cover the entirety of its extensive library in a multi-year licensing agreement. This means that NetEase Cloud Music subscribers will be able to access music from UMG’s full roster of artists, catalogues and distribution labels.

Naturally, the brands are also expected to collaborate on “innovative campaigns and initiatives” that will bolster the image of Chinese artists and international musicians to the platform's 800 million registered users.

About the of the deal, CEO of NetEase, Inc. William Ding said, “The partnership further strengthens NetEase Cloud Music’s position as a go-to platform for high-quality international music and marks a great step forward for China’s music industry as a whole.”

He continued: “As leaders in music-based entertainment, UMG and NetEase Cloud Music share a commitment to encouraging creativity and innovation, respecting the power of artistry and exploring wider opportunities for the appreciation and enjoyment of the world’s most iconic, edgy and influential music. We are confident that the partnership will bring wider choice not only for music lovers and artists, but also for the industry.”

The deal also breaks the past precedent of signing exclusively with NetEase rival Tencent Music.

That said, Monday was a busy day in London. A second press release distributed that day also confirmed that UMG has secured “a multi-year extension of their licensing agreement” with Tencent Music. Under the extension, Tencent will continue to distribute music from UMG’s many record labels on its platforms, including QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, as well as TME’s online karaoke platform WeSing.

“Supported by our hundreds of millions music lovers, powerful promotional channels, extensive user insights, as well as well-rounded digital music services, we have been a valuable partner for the industry to engage with music lovers," said Tencent CEO Cussion Pang. "We look forward to cultivating the growth of the dynamic and expanding music entertainment industry in China, taking our shared love and pursuit of new music, to new levels that will benefit all."

In addition to that, they’re also establishing a new joint venture music label that has not yet been named but “will be dedicated to reaching audiences across China through cultivating, developing, producing, and showcasing highly talented domestic artists and their premium original music”.

As China continues to strengthen ties with western brands that help reinforce a sustainable music ecosystem as well as the industry's evolution in the country, the west isn’t so welcoming in return. Last week, US President Donald Trump issued two executive orders that could see apps like TikTok and WeChat banned in the country starting in September unless Microsoft can save the app from its Chinese owner before the 15th of the month. Obviously, American's are panicking but opportunities for competitors like LA-based Triller are abundant.

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