All tech companies strive to be ubiquitous. Within China, behemoth Tencent is a clear leader of the pack. From the company’s “pan entertainment strategy” in 2012 to its 2018 equivalent “neo-creativity strategy,” Tencent keeps unveiling new master plans, each time with more in-house platforms and business approaches involved.
On the margins of the Shanghai International Film Festival, the Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) held a summit meeting proposing discussions around joining the forces of the film and music industries. Over three panels, twelve film and music industry insiders discussed future plans in this space, and where Tencent could fit in.
The first panel topic was how to break down walls between film and music, and to maximize Tencent’s built-in platform advantages. Hu Chen, GM of Tencent music streaming platform QQ Music, said: “On our platform, film and TV soundtrack hits total 260 million daily plays.” With an astronomical number like that, Tencent makes the best of every bit of data. “Since the launch of our ‘Video & Audio+’ alliance in 2018, more and more productions come to us in the early stage. We offer them big data, including trends analysis, such as which artists and music genres are most suitable for soundtracking their production,” said Hu.
One unlikely panelist was Gong Ge’er. Though his background is in music production, today he’s best known as a producer and writer of “Wandering Earth,” this year’s smash hit sci-fi film. Gong talked about his music producer days on the panel: “I was making music from 2003 to 2018. I scored 150 TV commercials, three to four features, and a few TV shows. Musically, the only work I did that the audience remembers me by is the theme song for Tencent Games’ ‘Cross Fire’ – the power of the platform is enormous.”
After his success with “The Wandering Earth,” Gong’s position flipped from creator to producer. “I’d probably be uncomfortable receiving data analysis in the creative process as a musician,” he said. “I want the platform to take care of musicians, but when I’m on the market end, I know data works, and I want the platform to give me better data.”
The second panel addressed the topic of how music empowers publicity and distribution. “ ’Us and Them’ was no doubt the most successful case,” said Zhang Wenbo, founder of film marketing service company Bravo Entertainment. “I clearly remember, the day after the MV ‘Houlai 2018’ was released, the daily growth of users who click ‘I want to see this movie’ on the Maoyan app exceeded 30,000. It broke records. Music is extremely powerful in converting audience interest towards films.” QQ Music co-produced this music video, and released its exclusive premier.
“The next step will be committing to international standards,” said Tsai Chun Pan, VP of TME Group, during the third panel on the same topic. “We can learn from the foreign production model of spending 10-12% of the production budget on music. If there’s any production company here today that doesn’t see how a limited budget could work with that, rest assured, TME is willing to contribute our resources in order to get good content. TME will also offer traffic support. We will keep the copyright, of course.”
Pan concluded the event with great optimism. “We’re coming up to the end of the process of pay-to-listen music acceptance. When it takes its course, and the cake gets bigger and bigger, eventually the return goes back to the music creators.” Creators that are filtered through Tencent’s data analysis and run by Tencent’s management system, perhaps.