Digital music biz booming in China

Audio-Video Assn. chairman predicts major growth

BEIJING — Foreign investment, market standardization and new technology will give China’s digital music sector a major boost, according to the head of a leading org here.

The overall digital music market in mainland China will grow to $513 million this year, rising to $1 billion-plus by 2008 and $1.6 billion in 2010, Liu Guoxiong, chairman of the China Audio-Video Assn., forecast at a seminar in Shanghai.

Sales of digital music products last year were $450 million, Liu said. Music sales in traditional formats have been declining for the past two years because of the impact of new media, such as mobile phones and the Internet. In 2004, China put 417 million CDs on the market, down 8.6%, he said.

The huge potential of China’s digital music market has piqued foreign interest, with overseas investment in the sector at $87.5 million between October 2005 and March this year.

Wide-scale music piracy remains a serious disincentive to domestic musicians working in China. In recent months, the government has made numerous pledges to combat counterfeiting. Liu said China was due to join two international intellectual property treaties this year as part of its World Trade Organization requirements, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): Copyright and the WIPO Performances & Phonograms Treaty. Both moves would be conducive to the “healthy development” of China’s digital music market.

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