New deal between Sony Music and NetEase disrupts Tencent’s hold on Chinese music

Image Credit: NetEase Cloud Music

A fairer deal for the music industry in China? Tencent loses exclusive licensing agreement with Sony Music as NetEase Cloud Music and Sony sign a new distribution deal.

NetEase Cloud Music and Sony Music Entertainment have struck up a new direct digital distribution deal. Under the agreement, music from the Sony catalogue will be made available to NetEase users in Mainland China.

NetEase Cloud Music, a RouteNote partner, is an interactive music service and one of the “Big 3” companies in Chinese music streaming. The new arrangement is notable as previously Tencent Music Entertainment, which leads the streaming market in China, held an exclusive deal with Sony Music. Whilst Sony did recently extend its digital distribution agreement with Tencent, the agreement with NetEase means that Tencent has lost its last major exclusive licensing deal.

Regulators meanwhile have been investigating the market dominance of Tencent’s music division in China, including scrutinising its exclusive catalogue deals with big labels that were key to the company’s rapid rise above its rivals. Tencent had already lost its exclusive deals with Universal Music and Warner Music, which the Chinese music giant had paid large fees to maintain.

NetEase Cloud Music is one of the most popular entertainment apps for Gen Z music fans in China. Launched in 2013, the music division of NetEase now boasts over 800m users; an audience musicians and producers looking to release music can reach by distributing their music through RouteNote.

Ding Bo, Vice President of NetEase Cloud Music, said: “With access to SME’s abundant catalogue of top artists across the globe, we’re thrilled to provide more unique and influential music content for our audience’s diverse tastes. The partnership will enrich and enliven our already vast and expanding library of quality music and propel China’s online music ecosystem forward.”

NetEase’s agreement with Sony Music will see co-operation in music distribution and streaming but also online karaoke and music vlogs. The deal lets NetEase broaden its music selection which already includes renowned artists in China such as Karen Mok and Eric Chou.


Looking to release your music onto streaming services? A potential audience of 800 million listeners waits on NetEase to hear your tracks. RouteNote can upload your music for free to NetEase and all other major streaming platforms, so you can start making money from music. Find out more here.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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