Finnish phone manufacturer Nokia launched its built-in app MixRadio on the mainland last month to tap the country's growing music streaming market. The service is free and promises to spare users the irritations of unsolicited advertising.
Major players such as Spotify and Pandora have yet to reach the mainland market, and home-grown Xiami, QQ Music and Douban Radio are the most popular music streaming services available on desktop computers and mobile phones.
Nokia estimates there are 618 million potential users in the streaming market. The company says the challenge is to understand the behaviour of mainland music lovers.
Beijing-based Jamie Robertson, director of Nokia Entertainment, has been familiarising himself with the Chinese music industry since last August. "In China, with the Mando-pop market, people are very much driven by mood instead of genre as they are in the West," he says.
That's how MixRadio programs playlists, which reflect the users' tastes and preferences, he says.
Mainland users tend to have two to four different music apps on their phones, as some apps specialise in Chinese songs, while others feature an English and international repertoire. Jyrki Rosenberg, vice-president and head of Nokia Entertainment, says the MixRadio app is a one-stop service that simplifies the download process.
"We hope to cater to people who want to enjoy the music without doing the manual work. They just have to click on the 'Play Me' button," he says.
The service also features up to four playlists for offline listening. "This is great for the China market, since internet streaming isn't as quick, or users may not be connected to the internet at all times," Rosenberg says.
MixRadio promises to take Chinese music onto the international stage. "We have established various Chinese music channels and they will be put alongside the Billboard chart on the app," says Robertson. "We did this for music from Latin America and Bollywood, and we are looking forward to doing the same in China."
Launched in 2011, MixRadio has expanded its service to 31 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, over the past year. It is not available in Hong Kong, but users can expect its arrival soon.