Digital online music in China – a “laboratory” for business experiment

Xiaobai Shen, Robin Williams, Shufeng Zheng, Yyinliang Liu, Yixiao Li, Martina Gerst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In contrast to the West, where incumbent powerful forces had seen digitisation of music as a disruptive force, China has followed a dramatically different development trajectory, patterned by its distinctive historical context. This detailed exploratory study reveals how Chinese internet giants, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent engaged in the online music services and became dominant in the field. China has become a “laboratory” as they pursued sustained discovery-driven innovation, based on ‘trial and error’ learning, launching and adapting services at a large scale. Building on their differing core businesses they have developed diverse online music businesses, integrating with services across different platforms (music, film/TV, literature) and in lateral markets (online markets, payment systems). Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have created their own cross-platform service infrastructures, through which they can capture multiple value propositions and compete by offering diverse services. Online music together with other creative cultural products have thrived in this environment, creating new forms and values that would be sustainable in the Chinese context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-249
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date11 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • digital music
  • China
  • creative industries
  • cross-platform service infrastructure
  • discovery-driven innovation
  • evolution of ecologies
  • science and technology studies (STS)


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