Warner Music is going big in China.
The US record label has struck a first-of-its-kind distribution deal with Chinese Internet giant Tencent to manage and promote its music in the potentially massive market.
Tencent will distribute new releases from Warner artists — ranging from Michael Buble to Bruno Mars — through its own QQ streaming service and other legal digital outlets.
Warner Music China will continue its own relationships with mobile carriers in that country.
The partnership is aimed at helping Warner create a legal market in a country where piracy is rampant.
Despite its massive population, China’s digital music market, including streaming services and digital downloads, is estimated at just $70 million this year, according to iiMedia Research.
Tencent is considered the Chinese Google, with a huge search and social media presence.
As part of the deal, Warner artists who are already popular in China, such as Coldplay, will get a promotional boost from Tencent’s mobile and PC-based games and its messaging platform, the companies said.
Separately, Warner, backed by billionaire Len Blavatnik, is acquiring Golden Typhoon’s music catalog, which has rights to popular local artists.
Warner Music China represents Mandarin music artists as well as Western stars.
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