Google makes move into Chinese digital music

Although it is not confirmed, Google has entered into a joint venture with Top100.cn, which will allow Internet users to download licensed music for free.

Top100 already provides a for-pay music download service in China which also offers free streaming. It was founded with 20 million yuan in start-up capital from Chinese basketball star Yao ming, Yao's agent Zhang Mingji, and businessman Ge Chen. It is unclear what will happen to this service when Google steps in.

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Google is obviously trying to cut into the dominance of Baidu, which lists unlicensed music tracks in its search results, drawing the ire of the music industry.

But where Baidu sells ads on its pages with music search results and likely keeps the revenue for itself, the Google-Top100 venture will apparently split the revenue among the two companies while compensating the content owners.

IFPI estimates that 99 percent of music traded in the country is pirated, and although it is one of the largest countries in the world, music sales account for less than 1 percent of the global revenue total.

News of the deal was first reported in local media Thursday.

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