There’s been a growing trend over the past couple of years of music streaming services becoming agnostic music distributors.
This arguably started with SoundCloud in 2019, when it launched a distribution feature that enabled artists to distribute their music to a range of rival streaming services. The following year, it launched a marketing and distribution platform for “serious artists who want to take their career to the next level”.
And just last month, ByteDance-owned viral video app TikTok launched its own promotion and music distribution platform, called SoundOn.
Now, Tencent Music Entertainment, the owner of China’s largest music streaming services, has become one of the industry’s newest global music distributors.
TME’s new service, dubbed “One-Click For All”, enables independent musicians registered to its Tencent Musician Platform to distribute their music to over 150 platforms globally, including Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and others.
The Tencent Musician Platform is an indie artist initiative previously known as ‘Tencent Musician Program’. It was launched in 2017, and by the end of 2021, the number of registered musicians on the program reached more than 300,000.
Tencent Music, majority owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, runs music apps in China including its flagship music platform QQ Music, as well as Kugou, Kuwo, plus online karaoke service, WeSing.
Tencent Music Entertainment’s expansion into the global distribution business comes four years after rival Spotify started offering artists direct distribution deals (including paying out advances) itself back in 2018. It then abandoned the plan.
Spotify also launched its own DIY distribution service in 2018, only to suddenly axe the service just a few months later.
Artists signed up to Tencent Musician Platform were already able to distribute their music to TME’s own music apps.
TME revealed in December that over the course of 2021, more than 2.1 million songs from independent artists were distributed through the Tencent Musician Platform.
To date, TME says that it has successfully distributed and promoted more than 150,000 songs to overseas platforms.
TME says that One-Click For All’s distribution process – the time it takes between uploading a track to seeing it appear on streaming services – takes seven working days to complete.
Artists will receive income generated from overseas distribution quarterly, and TME says that artists will be paid 70% of those royalties.
TME will also provide musicians with an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) for free.
The official unveiling of TME’s global distro service for indie artists follows its partnership with Apple Music at the end of 2021, which allowed record labels and artists using its TME Music Cloud service to distribute their music to Apple Music.
Tencent cites musicians such as Liu Shuang, Akini JING, Joysaaaa and SARRA as having “been promoted to international audiences” through Apple Music since then.
It also cites tracks by independent Chinese artists like Piu Piu Piu by Pin Yin Shi and Wild Motor by Guo Gaoming, as having “won over one million views on YouTube”.
In TME’s annual report for 2021, recently filed by on the SEC, the publicly-traded firm explains that the Tencent Musician Platform is an online service “for selected aspiring artists to upload original music” to its platform.
TME says that “Cultivating original works and enriching the indie musician ecosystem through [its] Tencent Musician Platform is another key source of our content differentiation”.
In addition to music distribution, resources offered to musicians selected to join its independent artist program include song production, domestic and overseas promotion, artist and repertoire development, performance resources, copyright protection, career training and incentive plans.
In 2021, TME launched what it calls “an upgraded 100 Million Yuan (approx $15m) Incentive Plan” for indie artists, which, it says “incentivizes eligible musicians to collaborate with us in music creation”, as well as “to provide comprehensive incentive mechanisms to help high-quality content and artists gain exposure across our platforms”.
The company adds that it has “also developed a proprietary process of matching repertoire with suitable singers and producers for promotion on multiple TME and external platforms”.
Tencent Music reached 76.2 million paying users in Q4 (ended December 31, 2021), up by 36.1% year-over-year.
“Leveraging our proprietary tools and technologies, we are pleased to see our investment in original music production starting to pay off, as well as an increasing number of indie musicians finding a home on our Tencent Musician Platform.”
Cussion Pang, TME
In a statement published with TME’s Q4 financial update, Executive Chairman Cussion Pang, said: “Leveraging our proprietary tools and technologies, we are pleased to see our investment in original music production starting to pay off, as well as an increasing number of indie musicians finding a home on our Tencent Musician Platform.
“With broad capabilities across the content value chain, we will continuously expand content production, licensing, operation, promotion, and monetization efforts to augment the scale and fortify the quality and competitiveness of our music catalog.”Music Business Worldwide