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2020 China Music Market Summary Musician income is increasing, but there's still a lot to be done.

admin 2020-12-28 Collect

In 2020, China remained the seventh largest music market in the world, same as last year. What’s different about 2020 is that the government’s effort in copyright protection reached a new high.

On November 11th, 2020, the 13th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China passed the amendment of the Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China, effective June 1st, 2021. The amendment includes further adaptations of the digital age to ensure a well-rounded protection of content creator rights.

China has a very high penetration rate of streaming platforms, and the number of paid online music consumers is also growing rapidly. In recent years, copyrights of highly popular music content have repeatedly sold for high prices, which drew a lot of capital market attention to musical assets.

The development of digital music has made music creation and distribution easier, attracting more music enthusiast to become music creators.

In 2020, the music market shows the following characteristics:

First, the number of musicians distributing their songs on music streaming platforms continues to grow. The number of registered musicians in NetEase Cloud Music alone has already reached 200,000.

Second, income musicians get from music streaming platforms, short video platforms or live streaming platforms is trending upwards. In 2020, more than 70% of musicians generated income through streaming platforms like QQ Music or NetEast Cloud Music; more than 19% earned more than 1,000 yuan. Although the number is still very low, it has improved substantially comparing to previous years.

Third, the average income of musicians generate from their music is still very low. 52% of musicians don’t get any income from making music; 24% of musician gets less than 5% of their total income from music, 7% gets 6%-20% of their total income from music and only 7% gets 100% of their income from their musical career.

Fourth, the cost of making music is generally not proportional to income, so many musicians have a day job to support themselves. which leads to low professional participation of musicians. Although 34% of musicians are willing to invest 50% of their music income back into their music business, many of them still invest their own money into their musical career.

Fifth, only the copyright of the very top content has value, the majority of music content has very little value, which can be detrimental to the overall vitality of the industry in the long run.

The analytics is based on 3174 surveys collected from musicians in 40 different regions, with a profession ranging from songwriter, singer-songwriter, singer, arranger, producer, recording engineer, mixing engineer and DJ, etc.



Important findings



1. Musicians are getting younger, the percentage of female musicians is still very low.

The average age of surveyed musicians is 24 years old, and 60% of them are in the 16-25 age bracket. The percentage of musicians aged 41 and above has decreased over the years. The overall male to female ratio of surveyed musicians is 8:2. However, in general there’s more girls than boys in music schools around the country. In some schools, the female to male student ratio can get as high as 7:3.

The unstable income and long hours in of music-related professions may be an important reason that deters women from entering the music industry. The ratio also shows a very big discrepancy between students who study music and professionals who actually work in the music industry. 

2. Music streaming becomes the absolute mainstream distribution channel, and around 90% of musicians have registered creator’s account on streaming platforms

Data shows that 91% of musicians have joined streaming platforms, and 79.6% have released their music streaming platforms. Streaming has become the preferred way for musicians to release their work and for music fans to listen to them.

3. Streaming platform has adopted a number of incentive measures, and 70% of musicians have received digital income.

Musicians have gradually deepened their understanding of the mechanics of streaming platforms. In order to encourage musicians to engage with them, the music streaming platform began to explore new income incentives, such as income proportional to number of streams, advertising revenue sharing and promotional resources, etc. 

The general income of musicians is on the rise. 19% of musicians reported more than 50% increase in digital music income, and 11% reported 20& to 49% increase in digital music income year-on-year.

4. Short videos and live streaming earns big bucks, annual live streaming income of musicians can exceed 100k

According to the survey, 37% of musicians does live streaming. Among them, 62% have generated income from it, 28% generated an annual income of more than 10,000 yuan from live streaming, and 8% of them generates 10,000 to 100,000 yuan from live streaming, 3% earns more than 100,000 yuan from it. 

Therefore, we can draw the conclusion that live streaming has become one of the main source of income for musicians.

5. Musicians are willing to reinvest their income, and have a strong willingness to improve their musical skills

Through the in-depth interviews as a part of this survey, we found out that most musicians are very passionate about their musical career. 34% of surveyed musicians are willing to reinvest more than 50% of their income back into their musical career, 16% of them are willing to reinvest 100%. Many of them are even willing to spend their money out of their own pockets to hone their skills and pave ways for their musical career.

6. The pandemic drew attention to online performance

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced the amount of live performance gigs musicians can get, which resulted in a decrease in their income. However, many online performance methods were born out of this difficulty.

Online music platforms such as QQ Music, Kugou Music, and NetEase Cloud Music have stepped up their live streaming capabilities and worked closely with labels and musicians. Many organized, well-promoted, high quality online concert brands emerged, such as Douyin’s DOULive, NetEase Cloud Music’s Light Up Live, TME Live and Xiudong’s MOVE!TUBE. But whether these online concerts will be popular after the pandemic 

7. Musicians need to strengthen their operation and monetization

Due to the difficulties of generating income through music, musicians should make good use of different tools on streaming/short video platforms, and find creative ways to attract and retain fans.

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