Alibaba's music streaming app Xiami to shut down

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 8, 2021
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Popular music streaming app Xiami announced it will close its services on Feb. 5, following months of rumors.

A screenshot of the download page for the Xiami app on the App Store [File photo]

"Over the past 12 years, with each iteration and update of the product, Xiami hoped to allow users to discover a new world of music," Xiami stated in a public farewell letter.

"However, it must be said that we have missed some key opportunities in the development process. In the acquisition of music publishing rights and contents, we have not been able to meet the diverse musical needs of users," it continued. "This is our biggest regret. Looking forward to the future, we believe and expect the emergence of richer music content services."

The user-generated-content platform ended new account registration, membership renewals and album purchases on Tuesday, and will close all streaming, downloads and social functions on Feb. 5. The servers and all other operations will shut down on March 5. Paid users can apply for refunds, while their cherished playlists can be transferred to other music platforms.

Founded in 2008, Xiami was one of the first digital music platforms in China. Its niche offerings made it a haven for music aficionados and indie musicians.

However, in 2015, China's copyright authorities ordered online music providers to take down all unlicensed songs, severely affecting the company. Forced to buy publishing rights or pay license fees, it gradually struggled. 

Xiami was acquired by Alibaba Group in 2013, giving it access to Alibaba's many resources, including the latest technology and music entertainment insights across the e-commerce giant's various platforms.

Xiami was later merged with Alibaba's other streaming platform TTPod to create Alibaba Music. In 2016, Alibaba Music launched "Alibaba Planet," a new online platform based on TTPod, allowing users to connect with their favorite stars and others in the entertainment industry. With the company focusing on its new platform, Xiami found itself neglected.

During its 12-year run, Xiami managed to attract over 40,000 independent musicians and build a library of more than 500 million playlists and 30 million licensed songs. However, most of the app's songs are lesser known indie works.

Alibaba Music suffered from frequent strategy adjustments, management reshuffles and a lack of content rights. Meanwhile, Alibaba Planet eventually flopped, shutting down after just one year due to sluggish growth. 

In 2019, a user on Zhihu, China's biggest Q&A platform, asked, "How has Xiami gradually become a sinking ship?" The most liked answer read: "I don't know if it's sinking, but it's true there's less and less copyrighted content. Many songs in my playlists won't even play — my heart aches when I think about it."

Its rivals Tencent Music Entertainment and NetEase Cloud Music have already rapidly expanded by licensing more works by domestic and international music giants. These two platforms now dominate the market of online music streaming in China, leaving little space for Xiami, which also lost the rights to host many major releases. 

Even Xiami's parent Alibaba Group started looking for alternative ventures, buying a minority stake in NetEase Cloud Music in a $700 million co-investment in September 2019. 

While Xiami's streaming services will end, its newly unveiled Yinluo platform which connects musicians and businesses looking to license their music for commercial use will continue to operate.

At the end of its farewell letter, Xiami concluded on a positive note: "We always believe in the power of music."

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