Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is launching a music division to join its existing film and video units. Ali Music Group will be run by singer-songwriter and TV host Gao Xiaosong, who serves as chairman, and Song Ke, a former Warner Music executive, as CEO. The two execs previously worked together on Taihe Rye Music.
Alibaba released a statement hailing the new unit as a “a crucial pillar of Alibaba Group’s digital entertainment strategy”. Alibaba’s music streaming apps Xiami and Tiantian will now be folded into the Ali Music Group.
Alibaba already has a number of licensing deals in place with the likes of BMG, Rock Records and HIM Records for their content to play on its platforms. In March, Alibaba announced the deal with BMG, the music division of Germany’s Bertelsmann SE, that gives Alibaba the right to promote BMG’s music and artists in China through its online platforms as well as take action against copyright infringements in China. The deal brought some 2.5 million copyrights into Alibaba’s stable.
It’s been a volatile time for Alibaba. Two weeks ago, the parent group saw its stock hit its lowest point since its record-breaking IPO last September as investor concern over the Chinese economy grew. Alibaba Group shares were down by as much as $5 on a single day at one point, repping what would have been its worst intraday trading in five months. The stock has since rebounded to close around the $83 mark. Current Alibaba Digital Entertainment Group head Patrick Liu Chunning was also arrested recently as part of a wider anti-graft investigation at China looking at abuses committed during his time at rival online company Tencent.
On the film front, Alibaba Pictures, borne out of the acquisition of a majority 60% stake of ChinaVision Media Group by Ma’s group in March 2014 for $800 million, recently announced its first-ever Hollywood investment with an undisclosed co-financing agreement with Paramount for the latest instalment of Tom Cruise secret agent franchise Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation.
Alibaba Group also recently struck a deal with Chinese film company DMG and Hunan TV to bundle subscription-based Internet, cable and mobile entertainment, along with gaming, film and TV content, to Chinese consumers for the first time.