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China Embraces MP3s

Feb 29, 2000, 20:48 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by InternetNews.com Staff)

Houston InterWeb Design Tuesday formed a joint venture with the Chinese government and a Chinese investment company to build the first governmentally approved MP3 music site in China.

The new joint venture, Beijing Artists Online L.L.C. plans to launch a Chinese MP3 music site similar to the popular MP3.com within 60 days.

Although the Chinese government has adopted an open-door policy toward letting its citizens download and use MP3 players, every Chinese song posted on a Web site still requires approval by the Ministry of Culture. Houston InterWeb's proprietary technology allows the Ministry to administrate the site.

The objective of the joint venture is to promote and develop Chinese music through the use of Houston InterWeb's Internet technology both in China and overseas. By creating an MP3 portal for its 1.2 billion people, the Chinese government can promote and develop China music industry and also create a new, financially sustainable music distribution platform for its artists.

The joint venture is an ideal tool for the Chinese Ministry of Culture. By taking an active role in the MP3 market, the Ministry of Culture can also continue monitoring and controlling the content. Even though the artists are given a full liberty to build and update their own Web sites and upload their songs - all at no cost to them - the site will still make the decisions on whether the material is acceptable and should be posted on the Internet.

The new site will be based on Houston InterWeb's SiteBlazer technology. Artists will be able to design and update their own Web sites, and upload their own music and graphics. The artists will have access to Web visit statistics to see the real-time number of downloads and page views. Even though the joint venture is partly owned by the government, it is a private enterprise and therefore a commercial, for-profit operation. By teaming up with Houston InterWeb, the new venture can import InterWeb's expertise and experience as well as utilize the technology and Internet business models applied by its Western counterparts.

"An MP3 site is an ideal way for China to start promoting its hundreds of thousands of artists, not only in China, but worldwide. There are over 21 million Chinese speaking Internet users who reside outside China and have therefore had limited access to Chinese music in the past. Our new site will change all this," says Harry White, CEO of Houston InterWeb.

"Our service will be uniquely positioned to become the first major governmentally approved and owned MP3 site. We believe that the market opportunity is huge. Currently, China has only approximately 10 million Internet users, but according to the Yankee Group, Asian Internet usage is expected to reach nearly 374 million people by 2005. This combined with China's rapid economic growth will create an ideal marketplace for the MP3 site as well as our other products and technologies. We should be announcing additional joint ventures with China in the very near future," states White.

The English version of the new MP3 music site will be launched within 60 days, and the Chinese version should be completed within 120 days. At the time of the launch, the site will have an unprecedented amount of existing Chinese music available to the Internet users. The new company is already in the process of collecting and uploading a database of Chinese classical and folk music.

The new Beijing-based company, Beijing Artists Online L.L.C. is jointly owned by Houston InterWeb, China Culture Information Net, an Internet arm of the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and Hainan Dingshen Investment Co. Ltd. In addition to its ownership, Houston InterWeb will receive a significant license fee for its SiteBlazer technology.