Google's China dilemma affecting free music

Google pulling out of China - not music to everyone's ears
Google pulling out of China - not music to everyone's ears

In the wake of Google's shattering announcement that it might pull out of China, its music partner there, Orca Digital Inc, has been wondering just what the future holds.

Orca Digital operates the site, which distributes free music, obtaining its money from advertising, and has been seen as the answer to the music piracy that affects the country. It has a partnership with Google, which drives traffic to the site and has also brokered the its biggest ad deals.

Top100 has licensed some five million tracks in all, not only from Chinese stars, but also from the big four Western record companies. Around six million tracks a day are downloaded or streamed from the site.

Dazed and confused

Gary Chen, Orca Digital's Chief Executive, stated that Google has not been in touch with him since it made its announcement, although advertisers have been calling him daily. Google is said to have the collaboration under review.

Chen has been taking a neutral stance on the fight between Google and the Chinese government.

"I love Google, and I love China," he said.

Top100 hasn't moved into the black yet, although it took in $732,000 in ad revenue in the last four months of 2009. It had hoped to go into profit this year, but at the moment, of course, everything is in limbo.