Spotify is like the dominatingly famous choice among expats when it comes to     music. And it announced that it had reached 140 million monthly active users (MAU)  worldwide. But do you know? music app Netease Cloud Music in China had almost  double, according to a report by Quest Mobile published in April 2017.

   Well, yes, we have many people to contribute to that number. But hey, what is      interesting about China’s music streaming services is that they are ALL FREE. Most  of the apps earn money by offering subscriptions for better audio quality, ads, concert  tickets, virtual gift-giving, and song purchases. In only three days after its release,    Katy Perry’s album “Witness” ramped up 1.3 million purchases on China’s leading music apps, with NetEase Music taking the lead (in Chinese).

If you were coming to China or in China, and I understand your love and addition to Spotify, with a cool and clear layout of many genres of music, would you try to get a Chinese music app? Why? What’s the difference? Well,


  • Spotify does not have Chinese music.

  • If you don’t buy premium on Spotify you are “deaf”, not going to have many options on music. Not to mention Taylor Switch.

  • Spotify charges USD for the first there months. Pretty fair. Then USD 12 for each month after. What!?

  • Spotify is banned in China. Well.

If you are ready to explore, I personally recommend Netease Cloud music app (I will call it Netease below), because:


  • Netease has Chinese music. Since you are in China or is going to learn about China, you want to know about Chinese music.

  • You are not screwed if you want to use the app for free, with tons of different genre of music categorized from various circumstances to era along with frequent updates.

  • I mean, yes, China does respect the copyright and hard work behind the music and the app. Netease will charge an amount if you want the latest hit.

  • Netease charges different level of membership fee. The cheapest one is RMB 8 (0.79 USD, oh my lord!) for a month-long membership with infinite downloads of latest hit, except Taylor Swift (damn it, Taylor!)

  • l  Even to get the pop queen Taylor Swift latest album, you will only need to pay RMB 12 (1.90 USD) for the album.


Also, Netease is designed to be user-friendly with clear layout and instructions. If you want to download the app, simply go to App store or Android store and search for “Netease Cloud Music (网易云音乐)”. Here you go!

Of course, if you are so greedy about music and have to rule music of the world, check out the below Chinese music apps to full fill you:

1. Kugou(酷狗)

KuGou, meaning Cool Dog, made its way to the top of the chart by appealing to a very wide audience, especially those living in small towns, according to a report from Sixth Tone. This means that a large portion of their content is dedicated to square dancing tunes and KTV, which is usually scoffed at by the local hipster population. KuGou has also won users by integrating KTV streaming which enables users to receive “song coins” that can be transferred into real currency. Users can also comment on songs through “bullet screens” (弹幕) where comments stream across the video, listen to the radio, watch video, and interact through the social platform.

Although the app has 228 million MAU, Kugou is still figuring out how to earn money, but it has been earning from their live streaming service Fanxing. KuGou and KuWo are both owned by the China Music Corporation which merged with Tencent’s QQ Music in July 2016.

2. QQ Music (QQ音乐)

Although QQ Music shares some of the same features as Kugou, such as radio, KTV, and live streaming which can be rewarded with virtual gift-giving, it caters to a more urban crowd. QQ Music also offers articles and enables users to watch music videos, concerts, and interviews with famous musicians, including international stars such as Linkin Park.

The app has 211.43 million users and owes its success to Tencent’s huge presence in the Chinese market, including WeChat. This has enabled the service to strike deals with major record labels and allow its users to buy concert tickets through its payment service.

3. KuWo (酷我)

KuWo is another app with a heavy focus on KTV streaming; the app even hosts KTV tournaments with cash rewards. Besides KTV streaming, it also serves as a video streaming platform and broadcasts video content, usually on the more trashy side, such as China’s ever so popular talent shows and comedian acts. KuWo also reserves a part of its app for China’s rising DJs.

Like other apps, KuWo offers song purchases and subscriptions, but it is also trying to make money with in-app gaming and its own brand of headphones and speakers. The app has 107.72 million MAU.

4. Xiami Music (虾米音乐)

Xiami started off as a P2P platform in 2007 but had to abandon the model due to poor copyright regulation. In recent years the service has decided to add more niche content by featuring emerging musicians with original music. It has also launched The Undiscovered Nationwide Spotlight music program, a nation-wide talent search where users can vote for more than 6000 artists.

Xiami Music, which has 14.4 million MAU, is owned by Alibaba along with another music app called Alibaba Planet (阿里星球).