China’s major online music service providers started charging fees for music downloads on Wednesday, marking the end of the country’s free Internet music era.
According to the Chinese National Copyright Administration, the decision of charging fees for digital music downloads is not made by the government, and it is a market behavior of the IT and recording companies.
Major online music companies said that different companies have different rates for service fee and different payment methods.
Wu Qiaosi, vice president of Kugou.com, an online music service provider, said that her company launched a new website version on Wednesday which only charges for downloads, while the online listening of music remains free.
“We launched two new versions, a gold version and a diamond version. The gold version charges each customer for five yuan a month with 150 pieces of lossless music with the bit rate of 320 kbps, which provides music services of higher quality for our customers,” said Wu.
Wang Hao, CEO of Xiami.com, another online music website, said that his company has been charging 0.8 yuan for each song and the company also introduced new value-added paid services on Wednesday.
Xu Jing, head of the Digital Distribution Department of Universal Music Group, said that paid music should be the trend of Internet music services in the future. But since it has become a long-standing practice for most netizens to listen to and download music for free, many companies also introduced trial versions to go along with the paid versions of Internet music for high-quality music download.
According to digital music operators, Internet music companies invest large amounts of money every year in buying copyrights but often find it hard to recoup the costs. For the Internet companies who have long been seeking a benign profit model, charging may serve as an effective way.
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