A number of major Chinese websites currently offering musical content for free are planning to set up pay systems early next year.
That’s according to an anonymous China Daily source from Universal Music Group’s China base.
The UMG man said that the emergence of legal, money-making online systems in the territory is not confirmed but is “highly possible”.
At present, music has been made available for free legitimately in reaction to widespread piracy.
"It has been discussed for many years in the industry," said the UMG source. "The lack of outstanding music in recent years is partly due to free downloads from the Internet, which cause huge losses to the recording industry.
"Many music producers hesitate to invest in new music projects because their interests cannot be protected. The government sector, music providers and operators are all seeking a better development mode for the industry."
The news is said to have triggered a mixed reaction from consumers in China, and famed songwriter Xiao Ke has said that, while charging for downloads is a good thing, it is the websites themselves that should shoulder the costs, not music fans.
Google shut down its legitimate music service last month after intially setting up in attempt to counteract another service in the country called Baidu, which offered links to copyright-infringing music files.