Chinese tech company Huawei’s music streaming service, Huawei Music, has reached an agreement with Universal Music to launch a music library featuring a wide range of Chinese and international artists. The strategic partnership is another setback for competitor Tencent, which has seen its dominance in the Chinese music streaming market dwindle.
On its official account on Chinese social media platform Weibo, Huawei announced on Wednesday that the “Huawei Music X Universal Music strategic partnership has been achieved!” The company also confirmed that the “mass music library is officially online”.
Huawei said the music library features Chinese artists such as Jacky Cheung, Teresa Tang and Eason Chan and international artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish as well as international piano master Lang Lang and Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli.
This news appears to be yet another setback for Tencent, which has long held supremacy in China’s music streaming industry. The tech titan has recently been facing increased pressure from domestic competitors amid the Chinese government’s tough antitrust crackdown against Big Tech businesses.
Until recently, Tencent held exclusive deals with the three major international music companies – Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music. This gave the Chinese tech titan the decisive power to sublicense relevant content to other platforms. But this is changing.
NetEase, another leading Chinese music streaming platform, announced last month that it had struck a deal with Sony Music Entertainment. The new agreement allows the music platform to directly license songs from the international conglomerate.
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The newly announced agreement between Huawei Music and Universal Music, along with the recent deal struck between NetEase and Universal Music, indicate that Tencent’s privileged position is waning.
Meanwhile, the Chinese tech colossus is also facing heightened pressure from authorities. In March, the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulations (SAMR) fined Tencent 500,000 yuan ($77,000) for breaching antitrust regulations.
It was also reported that the company could expect a much heftier fine later this year as part of an investigation into its music streaming business. Chinese authorities have said that Tencent should give up its exclusive music rights.
The Huawei Music app comes pre-installed on Huawei phones and offers a streaming service from a growing database of audio content. The company said that it now has over 160m active users.
In March 2020, following the global release of the Huawei P40 model, Huawei Music expanded its services to over 100 countries and regions. The service can now be accessed in areas including Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
The service in Europe is licensed by Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music and features over 50 million tracks and 1.2 million albums.