Taylor Swift has set a new record in China after her latest album, Midnights, became the ‘priciest’ digital album sold in the Chinese market at 35 yuan ($4.82).
The figure, reported by TechCrunch on Friday (October 21), may cost less than the $11.99 price tag for Midnights’ digital album in the US, but for the Chinese market, it could set a new standard for the digital music industry.
On Tencent Music Entertainment’s QQ Music, one of the largest music streaming platforms in China, Midnights sold nearly 200,000 copies within a day of its release.
It marks a new record for Swift after the artist’s re-recorded Fearless album took the crown as the best-selling album on major Chinese music streaming platforms last year, outselling Chinese artists such as Jay Chou, Lay Zhang, and Li Yuchun.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version), released in April 2021, sold 205,000 digital copies in China in less than five minutes upon its release, according to Chinese government-run newspaper People’s Daily last year.
The higher price tag for Swift’s tenth album could also mean that the “upstream” cost of producing an album has increased or that Chinese users are now more willing to pay more for online music, said TechCrunch.
Online piracy was previously a common problem for China’s music industry. A decade ago, 99% of digital music in China was pirated, according to The South China Morning Post, but now, most Chinese consumers have turned to music streaming as Beijing extended its crackdown on IP infringements to illegal music distribution in 2015, removing more than 2.2 million unlicensed songs from the internet.
The popularity of music streaming also came amid the emergence of various music streaming apps in China. TME operates three of the most popular streaming platforms in the country including QQ Music, KuGou Music and Kuwo Music. Altogether, these apps added 2.5 million users in the second quarter, while rival NetEase Cloud Music added 872,000 paying subscribers.
These platforms have come up with various strategies to attract users including bundling up deals for other affiliated products like video streaming, manga and online shopping.
But aside from Chinese consumers’ changing listening preferences, the high price tag for Swift’s digital album also comes as the artist continues to amass a huge following in China.
Swift is one of the few foreign celebrities who have reached 10 million followers on Weibo, China’s Twitter counterpart, TechCrunch said.
The news outlet noted that only Mandarin pop music singer Jay Chou has matched Swift’s pricing power at 30 yuan per album copy.
The increased consumption of music by foreign artists in China, as attested by strong sale of Swift’s digital albums, also comes as China continues to open up the music industry to foreign labels and other industry players.