Fascinating news out of China today. Google, in partnership with basketball star Yao Ming, are introducing FREE high quality music downloads to the Chinese market.
Ming’s established site, Top100.cn, offers downloads of 350,000 songs from both Chinese and foreign artists. With Google now on board, they aim to increase the number of tracks available to 1.1 million over the coming months and bring in music from both Chinese and international artists.
Lee Kai-Fu, president of Google in greater China, said one reason Google lagged behind search leader Baidu.com is because it did not offer music downloads.
Lee told reporters:
“We are offering free, high quality and legal downloads, we were missing one piece … we didn’t have music.”
“This is the first serious attempt to start (monetizing) the online market in China. I can’t overestimate how important this is,” said Lachie Rutherford, president of Warner Music Asia Pacific and Asia chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
IFPI said last year that more than 99 percent of all music files distributed in China are pirated. With this latest move, IFPI (and Google) are hoping the service will attract users away from pirated music and more towards their “higher quality” sound.