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China’s Alibaba Expands Further Into Music

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has created a music division that could eventually match its ambitions in film and video.

The Ali Music Group will be headed by singer-songwriter and TV host Gao Xiaosong as chairman, and by Song Ke, a former Warner Music executive, as CEO. The two veterans of the Chinese music industry previously worked together to establish Taihe Rye Music.

Alibaba described the launch as “a crucial pillar of Alibaba Group’s digital entertainment strategy” that will “help forward our vision of becoming central to the everyday lives of our customers.”

Among other things the new unit will take over the running of two Alibaba-owned music streaming apps, Xiami and Tiantian. It will also lean on Alibaba’s capabilities in the Internet cloud computing and ‘Big Data.’

Alibaba has rights agreements with BMG Records, Rock Records and HIM Records to use the labels’ content on its platforms. The deal with BMG, announced in March, brought more than 2.5 million copyrights to Alibaba covering work by artists including Kylie Minogue and the Rolling Stones.

Alibaba has numerous assets in digital entertainment which it has either developed in house or acquired. These include Alibaba Pictures, which it acquired last year and retains a separate slock listing in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as stakes in Youku Tudou, Huayi Brothers Media and Enlight Media.

Patrick Liu Chunning, head of the digital entertainment operations, was arrested earlier this month in connection with allegations of corruption. Alibaba has stressed that the alleged incidents happened before Liu joined the company.

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