China surpasses the West in streaming services. In the West music streaming is a dead end game, once you’ve got your music on the streaming services it is up to you to do your promotion by yourself or you pay someone to do it for you. Your followers follow you and your music gets streamed. Pretty straight forward.
In China the motto is lead don’t follow. The approach is one of lean-in rather than lean-back. This is not about you the artist this is about making the consumers the leaders and how engagement is built into the services themselves.
Lets take a look at the general modern shopping culture of China for a moment to get a better picture of how this music consumption in China works. China is a laboratory of innovation and if you haven’t accepted it yet because of outdated stereotypical hang-ups, better get with the program because this is the future my friends.
Ecommerce is moving at twice the speed of the USA, 500 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) are buying on mobile phones, this is equal to the USA, Germany and the UK combined, and they are typically online three times longer.
The markets there thrive by providing the consumers with an integrated consuming ecosystem, focused on ultra-convenience and spontaneity. You can do your grocery shopping on your mobile and get a basket of food to your door with live fish in 30 minutes.
Trends are followed closely to fill the demands of the consumer by having micro studios that can tailor small orders of what is hot on the market at the moment at the demands of the consumer. In comparison to traditional retailers who provide seasonal collections with hopes the consumers will follow, like and buy.
These virtual integrated shopping ecosystems are like an amusement park; bright, lots of colors, chaotic, fun and addictive, but most of all: social. You can do your shopping from the chat room, and then after purchases get product tips from celebrities and more shopping links.
In the West you get your music to the streaming services, do your promotion, and wait for followers, cool. In China the consumers are the ones driving the promotion car by having the tools to that create these social interactive environments.
In the West if you like a song you are listening to you can “like” it and then, you can share it on some other SOME. Maybe your friend has a list of songs that you can check out or follow. Umm… what else, oh make a playlist. And that song you like would be so nice to sing if only you could find the lyrics, oh ya, have to look for them somewhere else.
Lyrics are an integral part of the music experience. Until you listen to a song enough times you're probably not going to be able to sing it lyric for lyric without the lyrics, get my lyric? So, the Chinese music streaming services make the listening experience more engaging by providing lyrics for their songs. Imagine shower karaoke with your waterproof mobile, hmm…
The streaming services in China are much like their virtual shopping environments, interactive, social and consumer driven, and often you don’t even need to open another app. You can listen to music and leave comments there for other users to view, and often this can create hundreds and thousands of comments, this is only the beginning.
Western streaming services monetize on consumption, whereas in China they monetize on Fandom. By focusing on fandom a user environment is created that is much more than just listening to music and sharing links. The streaming services host the music, the story, and the fan, include video and social engagement all without having to leave the app.
Think of the streaming services in China as if Spotify and Facebook had babies. The streaming services are extremely social and full of features. Comments galore dominate the followings of songs and artists. This way you the artist and you the listener can have direct contact, imagine that!
In this case a song’s popularity is based on the amount of comments rather than the amount of plays, with songs that can have hundreds of thousands of comments songs with less that 1000 comments is considered not popular.
Like children who come from the same tree don’t grow up to be the same but share the same characteristics so are the streaming services. Each one has its own strengths, features and user preferences but there is a very high social aspect across the platforms.
You can create visuals and share a poster of that song that hits you right in the heart that words cannot express. On top of this there is the possibility to customize your user profile to make it uniquely you.
Ahh, this song is so awesome the only thing that would make it better is if you could dedicate it. Much like when you call up a radio station and dedicate a song to a special someone, but this way your dedicated song and message would be sent out with a notification to your friend so it would not be missed.
One possibility is to start or join a Party centered around an artist, band, genre or mood, like an interactive radio station. You, or an other host would be the DJ of a virtual room where fellow partiers would vote, leave comments and review song selections before they get plays or a fellow partiers can even have a chance a being DJ.
Grow your own pet, kinda like the Tamagotchi pet, by listening to songs and participating in all features. Accumulate rewards to get a charity donation. Or if you are particularly fond of an artist you can contribute directly to your favorite artists.
And of course this can all be linked back to your SOME accounts on Weibo and WeChat.
China is leading the world in mobile consumerism, this is the future folks. The rest of the world is only starting to realize where we are heading. There will be more lock downs, Covid is not going to be the last one. There will be more virtual events, live streaming performances, listening sessions, and more.
We are nearly 7.8 billion on this little planet. Build an infrastructure for your music by getting your music across platforms globally. For your future don’t wait for it to come to you, get a head start and get your music to China now.
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