Tencent pacts with Warner Music

China’s Tencent has struck a deal with Warner Music to handle digital distribution of its repertoire and new releases in China, excluding Chinese mobile operators.

The two partners said it was the first deal between a leading Chinese internet provider and a major music company.

Under the terms of the deal, Tencent will distribute Warner Music’s repertoire to “all legitimate audio services” in China. However, Warner Music China will continue to develop partnerships with Chinese mobile operators separately to the Tencent deal.

Warner Music artists include Linkin Park, Bruno Mars and Michael Buble, along with Chinese artists such as Jolin Tsia, JJ Lin and Jam Hsiao. It recently bought out Gold Typhoon’s music catalogue and artist roster for the Greater China region.

China’s music industry has been one of the most heavily hit by digital piracy, but music companies are optimistic about growth as the government is cracking down on illegal downloads and streaming.

“Providing music fans with access to high-quality music, and the right mix of regional and global artists, will be integral to the growth of the digital music sector in China,” said Stu Bergen, president Warner Recorded Music’s international business.

Tencent senior executive vice president Dowson Tong said the deal would offer Chinese music fans a stream of high-quality, legitimate content.

“We are looking forward to integrating the music from WMG’s talented artists into our products and services, bringing the user experience and enjoyment to a new level,” said Tong.