When China search company Baidu began pointing users to copyright-infringing websites via their Baidu MP3 service they came under fire by major labels around the world and now the company is looking to rectify that PR nightmare by launching a new social music service which has received support from major record labels.
Known as Baidu Ting, the program has partnered with Warner Music, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group. The new system offers music downloads and streaming capabilities, much like options we’ve seen from services such as Spotify, Pandora and Grooveshark.
Among the sites best features are music browsing and streaming, the ability to download free songs and social networking aspects that includes the ability to create and share personalized playlists and check out popularity charts based on what other users are listening to.
The program does offer a language conversion option for non-Chinese users, just be warned that the program is quite awful and I highly doubt that the Google competitor will allow Google Translate to be used in order to help make their pages more readable outside of their search engines region.
Users can expect to eventually see more than 500,000 songs from the major participating labels, all of which will be free to download in one form or another, however those songs are expected to be uploaded to the service in batches, which means the service is slightly sparse upon launching.
Baidu officials have also promised that the system will continue to develop and add new and improved features as users voice their opinions.
The program is also a smart strategic move for Baidu as the term “MP3″ now accounts for less than 1% of the search engines traffic, a sharp decrease from the days when MP3 downloads were a popular internet feature, an option that has largely been dwarfed by music sharing services which have replaced MP3 downloads with streaming capabilities. In comparison the question and answer service Baidu Zidao accounts for 8% of all site search traffic.
With China mobile earning $3.1 billion off music rights downloads in 2010 it’s simply an area that Baidu can’t afford to ignore.
If you happen to read Chinese let us know what you think of the Baidu Ting service.