Apr 26, 2019 07:19 PM

Chart of the Day: More People in China Are Paying For Content Online

“I used to listen to pirated songs when I had no money, but now I can afford copyrighted music and I am willing to pay for it,” 25-year-old Wenrui told Caixin ahead of World Intellectual Property Day, which falls on April 26 each year.

Data suggests in recent years the number of people in China who share Wenrui’s sentiment has grown. Chinese consumers are increasingly willing to pay for quality content online, including music and video.

A report recently released by iResearch found the value of China’s digital music market had reached 7.63 billion yuan ($1.13 billion) in 2018. Paid downloads of copyrighted music became the industry’s main revenue source last year, accounting for nearly 60% of total revenue, up from 31.3% in 2013.

The number of people paying for music surged fifteenfold from five years ago to 38.77 million in 2018. But it still only accounted for 6% of total listeners.


A similar effect has been seen in online video markets. Paid consumption of copyrighted video contributed nearly one third of the market’s revenues in 2018, up from only 4.4% six years earlier, according to iResearch.


While it’s not clear what proportion of unpaid video and music downloads constitute copyright infringement, the phenomenon has been a persistent feature of Chinese markets, running from music and publications to animation and computer software. China’s National Copyright Administration has been cracking down on it for the past fifteen years with a campaign called “Sharp Sword.”

This story has been updated to clarify that China’s digital music market was worth 7.63 billion yuan in 2018, according to a recently released report.

Contact reporter Gao Baiyu (

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