At present, rates of music piracy are high throughout China’s audio-visual industries. Music industry executives generally quote piracy rates of between 75% and 95%. Disc piracy is common, particularly in wealthier cities along China’s eastern seaboard. People living in less affluent or developed areas still use pirated audio cassettes, which are cheaper to copy than digital media. Cassette players, which are capable of both playing and copying music, are much more affordable to people living in poor areas of China than computers. They are also easier for less educated sectors of the population to use: they do not require computer literacy or the ability to Romanise Chinese characters (pin yin). Expensive hardware investments are also unnecessary, allowing anyone with a tape recorder and a blank cassette to copy and share music using this format, regardless of their access to the internet.
At the same time, the development of an extensive broadband network in China’s cities and growing levels of PC ownership among the emerging urban elite are also resulting in high levels of music downloading. MP3 downloading is particularly common among university students and young professionals, who are more likely than other sectors of China’s population to have access to the Internet, an interest in music and the skills to engage in this activity.
Thanks to Philipp Bohn for providing this link.