Robert (hydroai) wrote,

Music Licensing and China

So Chinese music is now available on the iTunes music store as of this past week. I write about this not as some sort of blatant advertisement for Apple, but rather the fact that music from another nationality is available for purchase in the US store. For those of you that don't know, music licensing is a very complex issue – there are different recording company divisions on different parts of the world, and for the most part music released in another country cannot be sold directly here in the US (or in any other country for that matter) unless it is sold by the US version of that recording company. What this means is that if the market for certain music (e.g., Russian Rock) is too small in the United States, it's just not available unless it's an imported CD. This is the primary reason that a lot of music from other country is not available on the iTunes music store (so you can't get your German techno, even if it's being sold in the German iTunes music store).

What makes this interesting is the fact that it appears as if China's music licensing works somewhat differently. Perhaps its communist state central bureaucracy has some advantage – they are able to uniquely tap into foreign markets without going through all of the normal channels (such as having Sony China music relicensed through US operations). This is obviously advantageous for Chinese music artists, as it represents a larger audience for their music, an audience that normal US record companies wouldn't take their chances on due to the small number of people interested in this music. Hopefully this is only a first step in what will be many in being able to unify the world music market. I sure would like to be able to purchase Russian music through the iTunes music store. This probably won't happen ever in the near future though, due to Russian music licensing issues/mass piracy in Russian (the people there do earn very small wages)/sites like

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