Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ is the priciest digital album Tencent has sold • TechCrunch

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Taylor Swift’s latest “Midnights” album is down, and may set a new standard for China’s digital music industry.

Within a day of its release, the 13-track album, priced at 35 yuan, or $4.83, has collected nearly 200,000 copies on Tencent’s QQ Music, one of China’s largest music streaming platforms. While $4.83 doesn’t sound like much – the album Starting at $11.99 In the artist’s online store – it’s the highest price ever set for digital albums on the market, which could indicate two things: the rising cost of producing albums, or Chinese users increasingly wanting to pay for music online.

China’s digital music industry has taken a very different path from the West. For a long time, music piracy has been rife across both online and offline media, so streaming platforms like QQ have devised a variety of perks to entice people to foot the bill. Lots of paid QQ Music users have already signed up for bundle deals that give them access to other Tencent products, such as video streaming, manga, or membership in the Tencent-powered JD.com online hub. Subscribers get all kinds of value-added services within the QQ Music platform as well, such as hi-fi streaming, access to online concerts, and custom app layouts.

It’s hard to say if $4.83 is the new pricing benchmark or just a reflection of Swift fans in China. After all, the American artist is one of the few foreign celebrities who have arrived 10 million followers On Weibo, China responded on Twitter. So far, only Jay Cho, the king of mandopop (Mandarin pop music) whose songs are known to everyone from my generation, has matched Swift’s pricing power of 30 yuan per album copy.

In the wake of Beijing’s crackdown on internet monopolies, Tencent’s bargaining power over licensing deals may have weakened. For years, Tencent Music Entertainment, the company’s music arm, has pulled money out of insurance exclusive rights From UMG, Warner Music, and Sony Music Entertainment. This is no longer the case. The latest digital version of Swift is also available through QQ Music’s NetEase Cloud Musicfor example.

The good news is that an increasing number of users are paying for Tencent music offerings, although the penetration rate remains modest. In Q2, TME mentioned 82.7 million subscribers across the three music streaming apps, up 25% year-over-year; A total of 593 million people use these services every month, which means that only 14% of them pay. By comparison, 188 million, or 43% of Spotify’s 433 million users, were Premium subscribers on Q 2.

Spotify also has a more profitable product. Looking strictly at their music services (TME is a more profitable business overall thanks to a more lucrative streaming platform that lives off virtual gift sales), Spotify’s average premium revenue per user (premium ARPU) from the second quarter was €4.54 (4.48). dollar). TME’s average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) was 8.5 yuan, or $1.17.

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