Radio silence: Google unplugs its China-only music service

Radio silence: Google unplugs its China-only music service

Google has shuttered the music service it runs in China after the company admitted that the 3-year-old site had not taken off as the company had hoped.

A post on the Google China blog, spotted by Tech In Asia, explains that the close of the service, that was jointly run with Whale Music, and not related to Google Music.

Users have until October 19 to download any saved playlists; those that hit are automatically forwarded over to the data export page to make that happen:

Google still has a physical presence in China, despite relocating its search services in Hong Kong in 2010, and the staff that worked on the product have been moved to other projects, Google says. It is unclear just how many Chinese Googlers were involved in the first place, however.

The service didn’t go down as had been hoped but Google says it remains unafraid to try “bold, brave innovative ideas”, even in China. The company has struggled against the government’s censorship laws, which Google chairman Eric Schmidt called “a truly bad set of laws”.

The Web music scene in China is (like most of Asia) somewhat different to the Spotify/Pandora-dominated story in the West. Despite rampant piracy, a number of quality alternatives to the now-defunct service exist, although TNW’s China editor Josh Ong is mourning the end of Google China Music, “which was awesome”.

Baidu, Google’s arch rival, offers its own service, as you’d expect, while Douban FM is a popular service available via the Web and an Android app.

It’s worth noting that Whale Music will continue its service at unaffected by the search giant’s decision.

Oh, and if you’re in China and not on a VPN, you won’t be able to access that Google blog post, since Blogger is blocked there. Ironic, no?

Update: Baidu contacted TNW with a statement which emphasises that, despite Google’s shut down, its own service will continue:

Google’s music service was a positive force for the promotion of licensed music in China. At Baidu, we’ll continue the push for music services that respect intellectual property, ensuring that artists and labels are rewarded while satisfying the needs of listeners.

Baidu Music notably began life filled with pirated content but that changed when the firm struck a landmark deal with One-Stop China last year. The studio is a joint venture run by Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music.

Image via Flickr / Bfishadow

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