Bytedance-owned short video app Douyin reached a music licensing deal with Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) near the end of 2019, marking the first major cooperation between the two companies, media outlet 36Kr reported.

Why it matters: Bytedance has been working to find new original music sources as its old deal with global musical labels expires and negotiations for new contracts drag on.

  • Tencent has also been seeking to increase traffic to its music platforms, and inked a partnership earlier this month with video-sharing site Bilibili to promote independent musicians.
  • Tencent is known for signing exclusive licensing deals with major music labels and passing the costs to smaller music platforms.

Details: TME’s online music platform QQ Music, Kugou Music, and Kuwo Music have all registered official accounts on Douyin.

  • TME will begin licensing music to Douyin, according to the report citing people familiar with the matter.
  • The deal also involves the joint promotion of music and musicians, with Tencent providing the content and Douyin driving the traffic.
  • Following the partnership, Douyin  will standardize the use of copyrighted music.
  • Bytedance declined to comment on Monday afternoon. TME could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bytedance overtakes Baidu, Tencent in H1 digital ad revenue

Context: The two rivals have been competing fiercely in the online content market, with Tencent trying to curb the growth of the most valuable startup in the world with numerous lawsuits.

  • Tencent’s media advertising revenue dropped 28% year on year in the third quarter of 2019 as Bytedance apps’ growing popularity with advertisers took hold.
  • The Douyin owner overtook Baidu and Tencent to nab the second-largest share of China’s digital media spend in the first half of 2019.
  • Tencent has sued the TikTok owner at least eight times since November 2018 over game copyrights, trying to bar Tencent’s games from being livestreamed on all Bytedance platforms.
  • Tencent has successfully secured a temporary ban from three Bytedance platforms any livestreams containing three of its most popular titles: “Honour of Kings,” “Cross Fire,” and “League of Legends.”
  • Bytedance has also returned the favor. Li Liang, the vice president of Bytedance, sued Tencent for defamation in August 2019.

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail:

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