There were 313 million mobile music app users in China in 2013, while an estimated 912 million users ever consumed digital music through mobile phones during the year, according to the annual report released by iiMedia, a Chinese mobile market research agency.

43.1% of users were of age group 21-25, 29.2% of group 26-30 — that’s 72.3% of 21-30, while only 12.4% are over 30.

According to the estimation by iiMedia, China’ s mobile music sales in 2013 increased 6.1% to RMB39.7 billion (roughly USD6.5 bn).

Mobile music apps are more used for playing songs saved locally, streaming, downloads and searches, instead of creating or sharing playlists, or watching music videos.

The “mobile music” iiMedia refers to include both the mobile Internet-based and music consumed through SMS or MMS. So the majority of the total revenues were made by the three Chinese telecom operators through mobile ringtone sales and other offerings, while a minor fraction was generated from independent online music services.

The major revenue source of most mobile music apps’ was advertising which hadn’t brought them significant income yet. As of the end of the year, paid offerings include paid downloads, membership subscriptions or music data plans. Major digital music services such as Xiami launched data plans partnering with telcos during the year.

At the end of 2013 there were acquisition rumors that Alibaba had acquired TTPod and Kugou bought Kuwo. iiMedia concludes consolidation was thanks to the fact that many services were struggling to survive.

A few new mobile music apps, however, were working on new business models. Changba, a mobile Karaoke app, began monetization through virtual gift sales in 2013.

Unlike a year before that a couple creative music products such as Changba (a mobile Karaoke app) and Jing.FM (a music recommendation app) emerged, in 2013 there was few. Netease launched a playlist sharing app; Kugou app added a location-based social feature that allows for seeing playlists by users nearby or connecting users with similar interests.

Some milestones that happened during the year,

  • Duomi, one of the leading music apps in China, announced 180 million installs as of the end of 2013, a 20% increase.
  • Douban FM, a Pandora-like music discovery service, announced ten million unique visitors in June 2013.
  • Mobile Taobao, the mobile marketplace ran by Alibaba Group, added a music channel by integrating music offerings by Xiami, an online music streaming and download service that was acquired by Alibaba less than one year ago.
  • Qianqianjingting, a music playing software acquired by Chinese search giant Baidu, was renamed Baidu Music.

China Mobile, the largest Chinese telco, has been one of the biggest players in terms of mobile music users and revenues. Migu, its mobile music brand , reached 450 million users with over 50 million monthly subscribers as of 2013.

Apart from working with musicians helping them publish and promote original songs or events, and reach users, China Mobile also offers business-facing services, charging for usage of APIs, user data analysis, among others. China Mobile counts on music videos, high quality music and in-car music services as 4G is coming around.

In early 2013 China Unicom and several music streaming services launched monthly data plans. Users are charged 5-15 yuan for unlimited data for music streaming. China Unicom’s music brand, WO, had 37 million registered users and 6 million mobile app installs when 2013 ended.

imusic of China Telecom, the third telco, claimed 150 million mobile users as of June 2013.