Even though comments like “Xiami has the number one user interface of all streaming platforms” or “Xiami Music still knows me the best” accurately represents how many music fans feel about the platform, Xiami Music still cannot avoid the fate of shutting down. Many people know Xiami’s business is unsustainable so it will eventually shut down, but they just don’t want to accept it. Now, the day has finally come.
At 10:15 am on January 5th, Xiami Music issued a statement on Weibo announcing that due to business adjustments, Xiami Music streaming platform server will shut down on February 5th, 2021.
According to Xiami Music’s announcement, Xiami has launched tools for users to transfer their personal data. On February 5th, Xiami Music will be removed from App Store, all the monetary transaction functions will be shut down except musician royalty payout functions. On March 5th, 2021, all functions of Xiami Music will be shut down except the musician licensing website.
As soon as the announcement was made, users reacted with explosive discussion and expressions of sadness. The hashtag #XiamiCeaseOperationOn2/5# trended on Weibo. As of press, the hashtag was used more than 40,000 times and was read 300 million times.
Signs of Xiami Music’s decline started to show a long time ago.
In June 2019, Alibaba carried out a series of organizational changes, and Xiami Music was taken out of the entertainment group and put into the innovative business group. Rumors of Xiami Music shutting down have been circulating ever since. Three months later, NetEase Cloud Music announced that it received US$700 million in funding from a group of investors including Alibaba, which was considered another signal that Alibaba would abandon Xiami Music.
At the end of November last year, a number of media outlets broke the story that Xiami made a lot of changes to its senior management team, which made users worry about its future yet again. Users started to leave comments on Xiami Music’s official Weibo account about how they love the platform and pleading it not to shut down.
Nonetheless, the long-standing worry of users finally becomes a reality.
Coincidentally, MTV China Channel also announced its shutdown in February on the same day as Xiami. MTV has been the most popular music channel in Taiwan and an important channel for mainland Chinese music fans to listen to pop music. According to rumors, Channel V, which has been operating at a loss in China for years, will also shut down soon. Channel V hasn’t made any official announcement regarding this matter.
For music fans, that’s too much bad news in one day.
Xiami has always offered indie musicians full support. Xiami is the best streaming platform in the country in terms of accurate descriptions and genre categorization. For listeners, Xiami is a very good place to get high-quality music information, and for the musicians, good information helps get their music to the fans who would like them. The devotion to professionalism in music is also why musicians and fans love the platform so much. In the past seven years, indie music prospered in the Xiami Music ecosystem, which explains why musicians love Xiami so much.
Electronic musician Ma Haiping posted on Weibo: “After Xiami shuts down, the music of my first band will no longer be found on the Internet.”
The experimental band White+ also hosted a live streaming party to commemorate Xiami and the lead singer of the band Zhang Shouwang posted on Weibo: “I really want to put all of Xiami Music in my computer… It’s almost like a friend died on New Year’s Day.”
Steamwave musician SNPSA also said: “Aside from copyright protection, Xiami Music’s professionalism is unmatched by any Chinese streaming website. My musical career also started on Xiami.”
According to the 2020 China Online Music Industry Report, in October 2020, China’s online music industry’s monthly active users has exceeded 620 million, and music applications have been downloaded less than 40 million times. The user growth window in the small cities and rural markets has closed, and rapid growth in the online music market is over. The industry has now entered a stage of maturity and competition will become fiercer.
QQ Music, Kugou Music, and NetEase Cloud Music are the top 3 online music streaming platforms in China in terms of monthly active users, and Xiami ranks fifth on the list. To put things in perspective, QQ Music, the No.1, has 201.22 million monthly active users; Kuwo Music, the No.4., has 72.48 million MAU but Xiami only has 22.36 million.
MAU of the major music streaming platforms in China, from left to right: QQ Music, Kugou Music, NetEase Cloud Music, Kuwo Music, Xiami Music, i Music, Ultimate Music, Migu Music, and Baidu Music (Unit: 10,000)
The lack of content is one of the main reasons for Xiami’s decline and Xiami Music’s management team acknowledged it in their farewell letter to the public: “It is undeniable that we missed some key opportunities in our development. We failed to meet the diverse needs of our users with enough copyright. This is our biggest regret.”
Right now, users can choose to export their Xiami playlists to platforms such as QQ Music and NetEase Cloud Music. QQ Music is giving out Green Diamond membership to all the Xiami users who transfer their personal listening data to QQ music to compete for their favor over NetEase Cloud Music.
Although the music streaming platform will be shut down, Xiami is still trying to explore opportunities in other areas.
In its official statement, Xiami stated that it will “continue to serve musicians and music industry partners on its new platform, Conch Music. According to information disclosed by the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Trademark, Xiami’s parent company Alibaba has applied for multiple trademarks related to “Conch Music” in areas like broadcasting and video streaming, etc. Industry insiders predict that Conch Music will focus on short video and audio-related services.
According to Xiami’s letter to all musicians on its platform, Xiami will be turning towards B2B music services. In the future, Conch Music will become a copyright administration and distribution platform for indie musicians.
According to the Special Research Report on China Music Industry’s Future 2020 by iiMedia Research, the size of the digital music market is expected to reach 29 billion yuan in 2020, and 31.76 billion yuan in 2021.
In April 2018, VFineMusic acquired Douban’s music business including Douban FM and Douban Musician. In 2019, Douban FM6.0 version was launched and made quite a comeback. In 2020, VFineMusic has successively reached a music enterprise service agreement with Kuaishou and New Classic Media (新丽传媒). It has also reached in-depth music copyright cooperation with Want Want Group and the video social media platform Huayin. At the same time, it has reached a public broadcast enterprise service cooperation with Houcaller.
As the awareness of copyright protection increases, B2B music service becomes filled with opportunities. According to the observation of CMBN, B2B music services such as public broadcasting and commercial use licenses have become areas of major growth in the industry. With the help of 5G, AI, 4K/8K, and other technological advancements, the value of music copyright will be further monetized.
With the shutdown of Xiami Music, the world has one less good music streaming platform, but people’s love for music will never stop. There have been countless closed record stores, bankrupted record companies, and lost manuscripts, but the music lived and is still connecting people across space and time.
In its open letter, Xiami’s management team wrote: “We believed and will always believe in the power of music.”
We hope Xiami can prosper in a new market and keep contributing to the music industry.
Thank you, Xiami Music, and goodbye!
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