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www.Google Music….cn

July 21, 2011

音乐. yīn yuè. music

Brief Background

You won’t find it through any United States IP addresses, and many other countries with conflicting intellectual property laws for that matter.  It’s not uncommon that many have no idea about its existence outside of the countries where the service is offered.  So what is it exactly? Drum-roll please.  The service: A legal, trustworthy, and quality place to search, stream and download music…FOR FREE.

Almost exactly three-years ago Google announced their free music download service for China.  Surprisingly, this ongoing venture into one of the worlds largest digital consumer markets has received an insubstantial amount of attention.  In the legal discourse, whether academic or in practice, the conversation is almost non-existent.

Some Facts

This lack of coverage is shocking for several reasons.  First, let us become familiar with some of the relevant facts (these statistics apply only to Google China):

* 2009 – Google announces a music service where users can download or stream free licensed music from a pool of over 1.1 million songs

* Google projects main revenue model from banner advertising to generate $14.6 million in annual revenue over next few years

* Includes 140 partner labels including 4-Majors: Warner Music Group, Universal Music, EMI, and Sony Music Entertainment

* Press release indicates revenue sharing is 50/50 with partner music labels

* As of 2009, around 5 million songs/day are downloaded

http://www.google.cn/music/homepage (as seen from America)

Implications

On the grand scale of things, Google’s implementation of an innovative music service is only a piece of the China puzzle.  In other words, this is just one of the many ways in which Google.cn is attempting to enhance its competitive positioning within China’s search engine marketplace.  Particularly, against its formidable competitor, Baidu, a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ.

Notwithstanding, this type of music service clearly demands a deeper and more comprehensive survey.  At a fundamental level it will provide an objective evaluation for a free-music-revenue-sharing model that involves: a) one of the largest entities in the world, b) one of the largest consumer populations and active web-users in the world.

Furthermore, a comprehensive study would also require illustrations of the most profoundly distinguishing characteristics of the respective countries (i.e. intellectual property laws, consumer norms, music industry standards, etc.).  Ultimately, a study that is objectively focused on the contemporary effects of China Google Music would be in a better position to unveil and speculate on the effects this would have for the major actors in the music industry today—from the major labels to the artists themselves.  Lastly, it may even serve as a successful model for other regions of the world struggling to monetize digital music platforms.

To say that Google Music in China has been passive over the past few years since its launch would be inaccurate.  Several sources have commented on recent activity of the database:  Indicating that from “international releases” which, “end up there right away”, to local music where “Google Music has come around leaps and bounds” that the music service remains active.

Still curious?  Try it out yourself.  Although you’ll get a translated highlighted message under the search bar that reads “Music Streaming / Download Services are not available in your region” you can get a feel for what the service is all about:  http://www.google.cn/music/homepage.

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