Meet China’s QQ Music, a streaming app with 80 million users

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QQ Music is perhaps the best streaming music app in China.
QQ Music is perhaps the best streaming music app in China.
Photo: Virginia Werner/Cult of Mac

Made_in_china_bugMainland China is Apple’s second biggest market, and will one day be its first. The company is making a big push on the mainland, opening new stores and investing in home-grown companies. Why the interest? Because China is the new Japan — it’s where the future is happening. All this week we take a look at the cutting-edge apps that define mobile life on the mainland.

SHANGHAI CITY, China — In China, 478 million people — more than the entire population of the United States — listen to music online, according to government statistics. I am one of those people, and in China I have joined the reported 80 million active users of QQ Music to stream music on my iPhone.


QQ Music
Until Apple Music hits China, there’s QQ Music.
Screenshots: QQ Music

China’s Spotify: QQ Music


App name: QQ Music
What it is: Spotify for 80 million people
Owned by: Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.
What it does: Streaming music with 15 million songs
Special sauce: Makes your ears and wallet happy.

It is, after all, a (surprisingly) legal and licensed music-streaming app reminiscent of Spotify. You won’t find Taylor Swift on QQ Music, but it does house an extensive catalog of more than 15 million songs to look through, with many international options.

On QQ Music, I can create playlists, browse charts of top songs, watch music videos, and download songs directly onto my iPhone for offline access. This is a dream come true for a broke twenty-something who graduated from college recently and no longer qualifies for the $5-per-month student deal on Spotify Premium.

A fresh college graduate is generally low on cash, and certainly in no position to pay the regular monthly price of $10 for Spotify Premium (or much else for that matter). QQ Music is the best alternative I’ve found — it makes my ears and my wallet happy.

You can also select the quality of the file you download if you want to save space on your phone: When I ran out of memory on my phone and deleted the QQ app, I noticed that it didn’t free up any memory. I then discovered that all the songs I had downloaded remained on my phone.

Virginia_WernerVirginia Werner is a freelance writer, photographer and editor from Fremont, California with a B.A. in Journalism and Chinese from the University of Oregon. She currently lives in Shanghai City, China.