If there’s ever a disadvantage to being Chinese, it’s how (relatively) difficult it is to look for Chinese songs on the web, as the majority of music repositories on the web are in English.
It isn’t that there aren’t any sites dedicated to Chinese language media, it’s just they don’t share the spotlight which their English counterparts particularly enjoy. For that reason, I’ve compiled the best sites; so whether you’re a native born mainland Chinese, an American born Chinese who can’t speak the language or someone who just happens to like Chinese music, you’ll at least have someplace to go to satisfy your oriental melodic desires.
1. How to Search for Chinese Music
Baidu is arguably the largest website dedicated to providing Chinese music on the web. To get technical, Baidu isn’t just a music streaming database; it’s actually the largest search engine in use within Mainland China, eclipsing even Google.cn, but it handles music streaming just as well as any other Chinese media site.
Their extensive database handles remarkably like Google (even their interface is somewhat similar to Google’s), and you navigate your way through the site via a search box, so most people should be familiar with the concept. Using Baidu, you can look for information about your favorite artiste, album covers and listen to local gossip, as well as stream and download songs to your computer.
2. Where to find Downloads for Chinese Songs
When it comes to downloading your favorite Chinese songs, music site Gougou just can’t be beat. Unlike Baidu, it doesn’t encompass everything related to the Chinese world); it’s tailored specifically for musical interests only. One may compare Baidu to being the Google of China, while Gougou is a little more like iTunes.
Another advantage which Gougou has over Baidu is that, being a music site, it’s essentially easier to find downloads for your songs. Baidu has many links to Chinese songs uploaded all over the web, but only about 30-40% of them allow you to download the songs to your PC; the rest just stream music. If you want to download music without the hassle of clicking through various links, then Gougou should be right up your alley.
3. How To Stay Updated With The Chinese Media Scene
Along with Baidu, Xunlei was one of the few sites which, only a few years ago, was in the running to conquer mainstream Chinese Internet. Of course, we now know that Baidu has won the race, but that also means that Xunlei is a respectfully quality content provider, on par with Baidu. When you visit Xunlei, the first thing that strikes you is how similar it looks compared to Yahoo, while Baidu looks more like Google. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but seeing how both Google and Baidu won the search engine war, it’s fair to compare Xunlei with the less stellar Yahoo.
However, that’s not to say its service is poorer by any means; you can find news on various media figures, stay updated with the films playing on the mainland and in Taiwan, and even order music DVDs if that’s where your interests lie. If you use their search engine to look for a particular artiste, it’ll link you to one of the less famous music sites which streams their music.
4. One Source For All Your Chinese Music Streaming Needs
Some people like to spread their web music resources out to maximize their streaming opportunities; but if you’re the kind that prefers to stick with one location for all your needs all the time, then Kuwo is probably a good bet for you. It doesn’t have the massive resources which Baidu or Xunlei is capable of accommodating, but if you’re just looking for music, it has nearly everything you need.
Kuwo has a slick neat interface which puts everything within reach of your fingertips, so you won’t find yourself fumbling trying to navigate. It stays updated fairly frequently, so while it won’t cover every possible scenario, it’s a reliable service for your music needs.
5. How To Keep In Touch with The Chinese Music Billboard Scene
The above sites all rate music very well, but if you’re searching for a recommendation, then Taiwanese site G-Music is probably what you’re looking for. It has the added advantage of being based on the Taiwanese billboard charts, not those of mainland China, so if you’re looking for a different perspective – since most of the famous artistes are from Taiwan and Hong Kong anyway – you’ll do well to follow the updates on this site.
A Chinese media site wouldn’t be a media site if it didn’t stream music, so G-Music accommodates by allowing you to stream music to your PC as well. They have a fairly reliable lyrics list as well, but the interface isn’t as clean as Baidu, so it’s up to you to decide which site you prefer. If you want, you can also order CDs of your favorite artistes from the site, and they’ve been known to feature English singers too (hint: California Girls)!
6. How To Stream Chinese Music on a Desktop Client
If you wish to access music from your workplace where all but a few websites are blocked, or perhaps you live in an area with shoddy Internet connection, then the ideal solution would be to use a music client program which enables you to download music without requiring the use of an Internet browser. Enter TTPlayer, a music client software which you download to your PC and use natively within Windows.
TTPlayer only supports Windows as of this writing, so Mac users may have to wait awhile for an update. Having said that, it’s an excellent piece of software which streams choice music to your PC, so if you find yourself hampered by Internet browser restrictions, this is an effective alternative for your music needs.
Other worthy mentions:
We’ve mentioned some of the better sites to download or stream Chinese music sites above, but that doesn’t mean that the rest are unreliable. Cococ is a media site which has drawn comparison to Gougou for its efficiency, and it has its own loyal band of users which reliably depend on it.
One nice feature that Cococ makes clear in its interface is the ability to organize song searches according to your preference. You can search for songs according to their popularity, how recent they are, or what category their music falls into. As an added bonus, you can also look for lyrics, as well as enjoy a sprinkling of English songs which sometimes show up in their databases.
ChikoMusic is a relatively small blog-like site compared to its other media counterparts, but where it lacks in quantity it makes up more than enough in quality. A quick reference to its music list shows the newest albums and most popular artistes already displayed, and you have a choice to stream the music to your PC or download them.
The way ChikoMusic arranges its music, by listing them according to the album and artiste they are associated with, makes searching for music a pleasant experience. Plus, their blog interface is a nice departure from the chaotic mess of advertisements that the bigger media sites tend to be.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Sogou‘s interface and logo definitely stands out as a comparison to Gougou’s. Like Gougou and Baidu, it offers the common plethora of media services such as news on your favorite artistes, music, album art and ringtones.
You can use it as an extra to complement the other sites when you’re unable to find a certain piece. The interface is familiar enough to use, so you shouldn’t have any trouble if you’ve been frequenting the more popular Chinese media sites.
This guest post was written by Aaron Pek and edited by James Yeang