Warner Music Inks Album Distribution Deal With Lay Zhang, ‘One of the Biggest Superstars in Greater China’

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Lay Zhang (second from the left) has inked an album distribution agreement with Warner Music China. Photo Credit: Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group is officially set to distribute the next studio album from actor, artist, and Chromosome Entertainment CEO Lay Zhang.

The major label unveiled its high-profile distribution pact with 31-year-old Lay Zhang, executed specifically via Warner Music China, this morning. Born in Changsha, Hunan, the (seemingly former) EXO member Zhang’s released commercially prominent solo projects such as Lit and Producer via SM Entertainment.

This decade-long SM deal expired last year, though, and the artist’s latest effort, September of 2022’s West, was put out solely via his namesake Zhang Yixing Studio label. Additionally, the film star and part-time propogandist Zhang has starred in Mandarin-language movies including No More Bets, which released on August 8th and has according to disclosed box-office data raked in close to half of a billion dollars thus far.

Back to the Warner Music China distribution announcement, the Big Three label in a detail-light release made clear that the union centers on “a deal to distribute the next album” from Zhang, who’s said to have recently “sold out within seconds a two-day” Beijing concert that attracted 30,000 fans.

The Steve Aoki collaborator Lay Zhang, Warner Music Asia co-presidents Jonathan Serbin and Chris Gobalakrishna, and Warner Music China MD Sherry Tan alike emphasized their ambitious plans to popularize the relevant tracks on the international stage.

“We are delighted to work with Lay on this strategic partnership,” spelled out Tan. “Leveraging our extensive global network and expertise, we are committed to bringing his music to fans across the globe, both loyal and new, showcasing the captivating voice of Chinese singers to the world.”

According to IFPI data, China boasted the fifth-largest recorded music market during 2022 thanks to nearly 30 percent year-over-year growth, and Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal Music are rather predictably working to capitalize upon the nation’s vast revenue potential.

Attempts to cash in on China-based fans’ strong support of Taylor Swift and the Backstreet Boys have proven successful, for instance. Meanwhile, Universal Music Publishing China, upon finalizing a partnership with Beijing’s Ryce Publishing last November, declared that “the time of C-pop is here.”

More recently, Warner Music Asia in July released a Spanish-language album from Shanghai-born G.E.M., after her Revelation proved “highly popular in South America.” And earlier this month, Warner Music China signed R&B star Elva Hsiao, with plans to help the Taiwan native “reach new fans regionally.”