On a scorching night in August, thousands of Chinese youngsters filled a grand stadium in Nanjing to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the Chinese boyband TFBoys. Those who couldn’t attend—118 million of them—spent a no less memorable night by watching the shows aired over the internet. Screams became a waterfall of real-time comments, called danmu, rolling across the live video. Regrets over not making it in person materialized into 340 million units of virtual gifts sent through the live streams, all of which were run by Tencent that night: QQ Zone, QQ Video, QQ Music, WeSing, Kuwo, KuGou, and KuGou Live.

None of these products, except KuGou Live, were designed specifically to live stream. That’s the point. A user of the social network QQ Zone, for example, wouldn’t have to switch over to KuGou Live to watch her idol TFBoys. Tencent—the Chinese tech giant that has revolutionized how people communicate, pay for, and play video games—is now ready to redefine the ways music is consumed.

To start with, Tencent has been able to dominate almost the entire market. Last July, its flagship music streamer QQ Music merged with competitor China Music Corporation (CMC) to form Tencent Music and Entertainment Group (TME). Together, Kuwo and KuGou—formerly owned by CMC—and QQ Music, control a whopping 75% market share, according to a report by the Data Center of China internet (DCCI).

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Rita Liao

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.