Earlier this week we reported on Tencent Music’s latest financial results, including the news that it now has 39.9 million paying users for online music. Note, that’s not just ‘subscribers’, because Tencent Music also sells music – digital albums – through its streaming services. In the company’s earnings call with analysts, it talked about some of the recent success stories in that area.
For example, Cai Xukun (the artist known as Kun in China) and his album ‘Young’, which according to Tencent Music’s CEO Cussion Pang “sold more than 12 million copies on our platform by February 2020, breaking digital album sales record on a single platform with an absolute dominance and setting a new milestone in the industry”.
Pang also highlighted the growth of ‘original’ (i.e. artists releasing directly and exclusively on Tencent’s services without labels) music on its platforms. “The number of users listening to our musicians’ original content reached almost one billion,” he said. That’s a puzzling stat because Tencent Music has 644 million active users of its online music services, but we’ve checked the recording of the call, and Pang did seem to clearly say “billion” (and given the scale, ‘one million’ users wouldn’t be that big a figure to boast about).
Anyway, Pang highlighted one independent artist whose ‘Girl by the Bridge’ was streamed 1.1bn times on Tencent Music’s services, and promised more to come. “With such encouraging results in 2020, we plan for a strategic upgrade to take our indie musician program to the next level of development by offering more financial and operational support to independent musicians in order to help them realise their dreams,” he said.
Other points from the call – you can read the transcript here – include Pang’s comments on Tencent Music’s push into audiobooks and other non-music audio content (“the penetration ratio of long-form audio users as a percentage of total monthly active users could reach mid-teens”) and a hint at what Tencent plans to do once it owns a stake in Universal Music. “We will also leverage our user insights and promotional capabilities to promote music in UMG’s vast content library and bring more of the high-quality international artists to China market,” said Pang. Rival labels may have some questions about that, we sense…