Baidu Ting: Underwhelming but Welcome Addition, Much Room for Improvements.
So the web is abuzz Baidu’s new music service, Ting. For those that haven’t heard, the search engine giant has reached an agreement with a consortium made up of Sony, Universal and Time Warner to let users legally stream and download songs within China. It’s a positive development from Baidu and a giant step towards compensating artists and record companies. One can only hope that it is just a start and the service will develop even more over the next few months/years.
Here’s a screenshot of the Ting’s front page:
It’s quite similar in essence to that of Google Music (The Chinese one) as far as listing popular songs, giving access to top 10s and also allowing listeners to vote on some songs. Another common point is that one has to download the songs one by one. there is no functionality to download a full album in one go.
The similarities however stop there! Lost in this PR shuffle is the fact that Google has been doing it for 3 years and their catalog much deeper than that of Baidu Ting:
Some pretty big names out there are still missing in action on Ting like AC/DC , Motley Crue or The Blues Brothers just to name a few. Moreover, a slew of local bands like Xie Tian Xiao, Reflector, Yaksa, Zhou Yun Peng, Miserable Faith, Muma etc… are also not available yet.
Overall, the announcement and the service itself are a sign that things are moving forward in terms of IPR. Still, Ting is nothing but a pale copy of Google Music at this point with a lesser catalog and nothing to set it apart.
It would be interesting to see Baidu try to innovate on this one and maybe take a slice of douban by allowing independent artists to upload their catalogs if they wish to do so and have access to the same terms the big labels get. How many a musician right now is just putting songs up for free believing they can’t get paid for them? Think about the potential… maybe a separate indie section with some moderators to keep things organized and clean up a potential mess? iTunes and Amazon are already doing it, it can’t be that hard.
Sure, licensing issues are tricky and maybe some record companies have been locked into binding agreements by Google and their partners but a behemoth the size of Baidu should have been able to launch with a bang, including everything the competition has and more… let’s hope that much like weibo, renren, kaishin and other Chinese homegrown sites, this one starts off as a copy and morphs into something entirely new.