Sony BMG pushing mobile music in China

Record label strikes deal with a content aggregator to distribute downloads on mobile devices where 85 percent of recordings are illegal.
Written by Marguerite Reardon, Contributor
Sony BMG Music Entertainment has struck a deal with content aggregator Global Music International to distribute the company's music videos, full track songs and ringtones to mobile subscribers in China.

Global Music will be distributing the Sony content through China Unicom, allowing subscribers to buy and download songs, music videos and ringtones onto their handsets. Global Music International will be able to offer a wide range of music from Sony BMG, including content from Chinese and Western artists.

With more than 300 million mobile subscribers and growing, China is an important market for the mobile content business. And interest in mobile content is growing.

But the music labels have already been fighting against illegal access to copyrighted content. About 85 percent of recordings in China are illegal. Pirated music sales were worth about $10 million in 2005, according to IFPI, a group representing the music industry. In January, 11 music companies, including Warner Music Group and Sony BMG, filed a lawsuit against Yahoo China for allegedly infringing copyrights by providing links to unlicensed music.

But even though the record labels are fighting against illegal distribution of their artists' works, they also see the huge potential in the market. Sony believes its relationship with Global Music International will be key to getting its music to millions of subscribers in China.

"We have been impressed with Global Music International's established relationships with major telecommunications players in China, and are extremely pleased to be entering into a licensing agreement with them to offer our unique music content for mobile distribution on their partners' wireless networks," Kelvin Wadsworth, executive vice president for Sony BMG Music Entertainment in Asia, said in a statement. "We see this agreement as an important part of our overall strategy to innovate, find new ways for our artists to connect with their fans, and develop new revenue streams."

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