Sour note: Tencent Music, record labels and licensing in China

Introduction

Date: 16 September 2019. Duration: 15:04

The content-licensing practices of Tencent Music – far and away China’s biggest music download service – have struck a discordant note with the country’s antitrust regulator, which is looking into the company’s exclusive licensing arrangements amid concerns that they are locking competitors out of the action in the world’s 7th-largest music market. The investigation of Tencent Music – the first such Chinese probe targeting a local tech giant, and the first involving non-price vertical agreements – has roped in the world’s biggest music labels, Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music, alongside such corporate heavyweights as Apple, Alibaba, Baidu, NetEase and Huawei. It’s more than an attempt to rein in the dominant player in the market; it’s set to be a game changer for the entire industry. MLex Asia Managing Editor David Plott sat down with Chief China Correspondent Yonnex Li to explore the issues, and where the probe goes next.

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