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Business - Written by on Monday, February 25, 2008 0:43 - 1 Comment

What a concept: adapting to your environment… A lesson in Chinese music piracy

Although there are many things China can learn from its North American counterpart in this new world economy, there’s at least one thing North Americans can learn from the Chinese.
China has developed a reputation for bootleg products (CD’s, DVDs, software etc.). So here’s a crazy thought, instead of refusing to change and opting to take measures such as suing their customers, or coming up with crazy DRM policies…. the Chinese music industry is – adapting. Albeit, not by choice, Chinese record companies have given up trying to fight piracy like their European and American counterparts and instead, are looking at different business models.


Piracy is so rampant in China, that it doesn’t make sense to waste energy, time and money fighting the inevitable. Nowadays, entire artist discographies can be downloaded on different technologies, such as torrents (let’s face it, record companies are fighting a losing battle). As described in a recent article on the BBC website, new revenue models are emerging that are less reliant on revenues generated by record sales and in many cases these models can be more lucrative than old models, with less work. Chinese artists are increasingly relying on commercial gigs to make most of their income, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship for sponsoring companies as well as artists. Where one Chinese artist used to make $2000 a month from music royalties and live shows in the UK, she made almost double that amount by singing one song at a commercial show. The company benefits by being associated with ‘cool, hip’ artists, while the artist benefits from the increased exposure and opportunities to perform for fans; especially given the difficulty scoring TV and radio time.

When did it become a good idea to force-feed an unfit business model down consumers’ throats? Especially since today’s customers are the most sophisticated customers in the history of consumerism; for all the different measures companies develop to stop the sharing and so-called ‘undesirable’ behaviour, there are armies of ‘hackers’ out there looking to crack these codes. Stop fighting it, accept your fate, and start looking for new ways to make money. Change is scary, but it isn’t always a bad thing. I think it’s time for a change.

1 Comment

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John McNulty
Feb 25, 2008 12:55

Funny things is, if the American and European music companies adopted new business models, they’d still view lost CD sales as a loss, no matter how much more money they made. They want it all.

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