So you’ve learned some Chinese, seen a few Zhang Yimou movies and now you want to see what Chinese music has to offer? In this article I’ll share some experiences on how to find and download Chinese music. “Chinese” is used in the broadest possible sense – including music from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas communities performed in any Chinese dialect.
Anyone who has ever tried finding Chinese music on English language file-sharing networks knows that it is a pointless exercise which will fail 98% of the time. Therefore, I will cover only on the Chinese language alternatives and we will be searching using Chinese. This means that if you can’t read any Chinese you’re going to have a hard time following this guide.
As an example in this article we’ll be looking for music by Jay Chou, the unchallenged king of mandopop. If you only know the artist’s “English” name then Wikipedia will usually be of help; from the Jay Chou article we learn that his name is 周杰倫 in traditional Chinese and 周杰伦 in simplified. The distinction between traditional and simplified Chinese is sometimes important, as I will point out below.
Baidu is a mainland China search engine with a large number of services and a very strong standing in the local market. One of those services is Baidu MP3, which indexes music files on the web. This might sound illegal somehow but it isn’t and it shouldn’t be under any sane copyright regime. However, western countries’ copyright regimes are increasingly insane and our record labels have gotten used to bullying others into doing as they want. Presumably in order to stay off their radar Baidu MP3 sometimes block searches from outside China. If you’re not in China and can’t find any music when following the below instructions, skip ahead to the proxy section.
Now let’s get down to business. Baidu MP3 is a great place to start when you want quick results and quality is not critical. Go to http://mp3.baidu.com/ and you’ll see something like this:
Just enter the enter the artist name (周杰伦) in the search box. Baidu is clever enough to understand either traditional or simplified Chinese, but the results will always be in simplified Chinese as it’s a mainland service. If you’re only interested in MP3 files, select the “mp3” option. The search results will look something like this:
From left to right, the columns are:
- 歌曲名 song title (e.g. 青花瓷) – click this to download an individual track
- 歌手名 artist name (e.g. 周杰伦) – browse the artist discography and most popular songs
- 专辑名 album title (e.g. 我很忙) – show the full track listing for the album
- 试听 sample – listen without downloading (not very useful)
- 歌词 lyrics – useful, but Mojim.com is better
- 铃声 mobile ringtone – you probably don’t want this
- 大小 file size – bigger usually means better quality
- 格式 file format – use mp3 for portability, you don’t want wma or rm
- 链接速度 connection speed – the more the merrier
In the simplest case you simply click on one of the songs and start downloading, but you often need to try a few different servers before finding a file of acceptable quality and download speed. The artist and album pages are useful for exploring new artists, but I would advise against collecting full albums from these listings as the files would be of uneven quality and have inconsistent metadata (ID3 tags).
The 歌曲TOP500 (top 500 songs) is also well worth mentioning. The chart is based on the number of downloads and is – due to the service’s popularity – arguably the best measure of what’s hot in China right now. Other useful top charts include 新歌TOP100 (top 100 new songs) and 歌手TOP200 (top 200 artists).
See also Sinosplice for an older Baidu MP3 guide.
Chinese Proxy Server
If you find that you can’t get any search results from Baidu, I would suggest first trying one of the other methods below. However, in the rare case where you really need Baidu, you can still do it no matter where you are geographically. Just like many Chinese netizens use proxy servers to get out of China, we can use a proxy server to get in to China. I’ve been able to use Baidu MP3 using web proxies from mainland China, Taiwan and Korea. Others may work too, so finding and configuring a proxy which works for you shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
Do note that the only place where you actually need a proxy is when searching. When downloading you aren’t connecting to Baidu so you can get much better speed if you turn the proxy off. As this requires switching the proxy on and off repeatedly, I suggest using a browser/extension which makes this convenient. In Opera you can use Tools>Quick Preferences>Enable Proxy Servers (or F12+r) to toggle the proxy. Using Firefox+FoxyProxy it seems that you can use a proxy only for mp3.baidu.com, which is even better.
Again, if using a proxy seems like a lot of trouble, just keep reading for some other services which may serve you better.
When I had been in Beijing for only a few days I was at a meet-up for new expats and friendly Chinese. I got on the topic of music with a Chinese guy and he soon suggested that I visit VeryCD. That was in 2006, and VeryCD is still the file sharing portal in China. It indexes files on the eDonkey network and just about everybody seems to use it.
It’s quite easy to use VeryCD: just type the artist name at the top and search away. Unlike Baidu, VeryCD doesn’t handle traditional Chinese very well, so make sure that you’re copying/inputting simplified Chinese or you may not find what you’re looking for. Except for that, the search box is very clever and will even suggest additional search terms as you type.
As an example let’s look for Jay Chou’s 2006 album Still Fantasy – 依然范特西. Searching for 周杰伦 依然范特西 will find the album in both MP3 and APE format, as well as a bonus DVD, karaoke videos, etc. Jay Chou is exceptionally popular so the results won’t always be this good, but you’ll almost always be able to find something. Go to any of those results and you’ll find a box like this:
These are the files you are looking for, but since VeryCD is just a fancy index for the eDonkey network you need an eDonkey client to actually download anything. I recommend aMule for all operating systems except Windows, where eMule might be better. After you’ve installed the client, simply clicking on the links should add the files to your download queue. Usually aMule will be able to find a peer sharing the file in question and start downloading. It’s not always fast, but it will finish in the end if you’re patient. Here I’ve downloaded and extracted the 320 kbps version:
Basically, that’s all there is to it. One nice feature worth mentioning is that VeryCD provides RSS feeds for all pages, including categories and search results. For example, you can subscribe to the Chinese music category or Jay Chou search results, which is very useful for staying up to date with very little effort. Paradise for the music fanatic!
Now that you have aMule/eMule installed, there is another method well worth mentioning. Kad is a distributed network for indexing and searching eDonkey files. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on VeryCD, try using aMule/eMule to search in the Kad network. In the search view, select type “Kad”. You also need to pay attention to traditional/simplified Chinese as there is no automatic conversion. I suggest doing one search in traditional and one in simplified to cover all the options.
Here I’ve found a karaoke (KTV) version of a song I like. Even for things that you can find on VeryCD, searching the Kad network will sometimes give you better quality or alternate versions. If you find an album in both a mainland version (大陸版/大陆版) and a Taiwan version (台灣版/台湾版) get the Taiwan release as mainland releases are often bastardized by removing/renaming tracks to please the censors. Hong Kong versions (香港版) sometimes contain Cantonese bonus tracks, which might be nice.
You shouldn’t have any problem finding music now, but if you don’t know where to start I can recommend a few of my favorite artists:
- Mayday/五月天 is a Taiwanese rock band who perform in both Mandarin and Min Nan dialect. I am ridiculously fond of their song Rainbow/彩虹 from the album People Life, Ocean Wind/人生海海.
- Jay Chou/周杰倫/周杰伦 is extremely popular, but his style may take some getting used to. New album Capricorn coming out October 9!
- Wang Leehom/王力宏 is a successful Taiwanese American artist who also starred in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution.
- Michael Wong/光良 is a Malaysian Chinese singer who specializes in love ballads. His newer albums are only so-so though.
- Eason Chan/陳奕迅/陈奕迅 is a Hong Kong artist with a nice voice. I especially like his 2007 Mandarin album Admit It/認了吧.
- Faith Yang/楊乃文/杨乃文 is a Taiwanese singer with a good voice, good songs and none of the painfully “cute” image that most other female Chinese artists have. I think of her as Taiwan’s Alanis Morisette, but as I don’t really like Morisette the comparison only goes so far...
The list could go on, but if you don’t trust my taste in music (who would?) do have a look at Baidu’s top 200 artists to see what people in China are listening to instead.
The variations in character encodings, translations, romanizations, mixture of traditional and simplified Chinese and plain errors that you can find “in the wild” makes it necessary to clean up the tags (metadata) of your files. Unless you do this it’s going to be a mess when you want to play your music in a player which uses the tags to sort things (as many portable players do). The best tool for consistent tags that I know of is MusicBrainz, even though far from all Chinese music is in the MusicBrainz database. Still, it is better than trying to fix everything by hand and you’ll probably want to use it for all your non-Chinese music anyway.
That concludes this guide. I hope that it makes sense and that it will be of use.
Interesting post, I will have to try some of it soon. But perhaps you also have some ideas on a slightly related subject:
Is there any way I can purchase chinese CDs? Yesasia occasionally has chinese albums.. but their selection seems limited. I’ve tried to use amazon.cn, but this is obviously difficult to navigate.. and afaik doesn’t accept credit cards.
So, do you know any online retailers selling to cds to the western world? 🙂
For Chinese pop music I think YesAsia is quite good, I just ordered Jay Chou’s new album for example. For less popular items it’s a bit trickier... A few years ago I tried buying some things from amazon.cn but had problems with the payment options just as you say.
What I can recommend is dangdang.com, from where I’ve once bought a DVD and had it shipped to Sweden. At the time I didn’t really know much Chinese, but an online dictionary was enough to figure out what all the important parts mean.
Thanks, I will give dangdang a try soon.
Wow thanks very much for letting me know about the Proxy toggle in the F12 menu !
I already loved the F12 menu but didn’t see this one.
Wow, each time I learn a new Opera trick, I wonder “What would we do without Opera” …
I also use YesAsia. Not so good with indie bands and singers like Peng Tan (from Mainland China) or Totem Band (from Taiwan), but it’s definitely good for Jay Chou, LeeHom Wang, and other very mainstream artists. It takes about a week for an album to get to my porch. Longer if it’s a pre-order, of course, like the new Jay Chou album. (I ordered it, too. Great stuff!) Especially considering that the release got pushed back to October 15, but it should be worth the wait. I agree that his style takes some getting used to, and his voice certainly isn’t the best compared to Jam Hsiao or LeeHom Wang, but if you listen, you’ll be glad you took the time for it! I think sodagreen, Chang Chen-Yue, Khalil Fong, Nan Quan Mama, and Fusion Band are also all worth checking out, and since Fusion is from Mainland China, you can buy their album for a lot less than, say, one of Jay’s. I also agree about Mayday and LeeHom. You can’t say you listen to Mandarin music without listening to them! I also wouldn’t recommend learning Mandarin from Jay Chou, since he mumbles, but his music is very enjoyable.
I think some people use Chinese websites, but you have to make sure they’re reliable. YesAsia is, but others may or may not be, and it can take 3 months for the CD to reach you, but if you want indie music and really want to get it legally, that’s sometimes the only option.
Using eMule requires you to leave your computer on for long periods of time if you actually want anything to download, and my harddrive ended up slowing down and eventually crashing after I started using it, so I would use it with care and seriously think of uninstalling it after I’ve gotten everything I want for a while.
Looking through some of my old mail I find that I’ve actually successfully ordered stuff from dangdang.com and yojo.com (now amazon.cn), but both took a while to deliver.
Sorry to hear about your hard drive failure, but it is hardly related to eMule unless you weren’t actually using your harddrive before that. All harddrives crash eventually, the only solution is backup, backup, backup...
Hi, good guide! However I can not see any chinese text on Baidu what so ever- only some random encoded text!
How can I change this?
PS-Do you know any other chinese downloading sites preferbally in english as my chinese is not so good!
Thanks for your help 🙂
sheryl: Do you have the language pack on your computer? Without it, your computer won’t be able to display the text. If you do have it installed, but it still won’t display properly, you need to go to “View=>Character Encoding=>Chinese Simplified GB 2312.”
I don’t think the Chinese on Baidu is so complicated, but if you want to be able to download stuff without reading Chinese, you should probably join a forum that allows downloading, like a fan forum for Jay Chou, LeeHom Wang, or that kind of thing, but it has to be one that allows downloading. You just don’t want to make it look like you’re just there for the downloads, though.
It wasn’t really that I wasn’t using the harddrive, but the change was so sudden and drastic, that it could only have been something I’d installed in the past month, and eMule was the only explanation. I had back-ups, though.
As I said using English file sharing networks fails 98% of the time. However, if you’re OK with that failure rate then The Pirate Bay is as good as anything. At least most of Jay Chou’s albums seem to be available...
I like cococ.com
This Website so good because nowadays i always fine web to help me download Chinese Song. now i met it, so it’s very important. I you’re like me too.
Thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge on where to download chinese songs. It is just what I need to know where I can obtain chinese songs.
However, I was wondering if by any chance you might know of any popular chinese websites for downloading movies (with chinese subtitles).
Or, just chinese subtitles in srt or any other accessible format that I can download if I already have the movie available (without any subtitles that comes with it).
VeryCD is actually very good for downloading movies as well. They don’t always have Chinese subtitles but I think that more often than not they do. As for finding just subtitles for movies you already have I’m not sure. HD rips often point to http://sub.yyets.net/ for subtitles and for the rest perhaps you could try Subom 字幕下载 or Shooter.cn.
Are there any other good Top Chinese Music Charts that you know of other than the Baidu ones?
I’d say G-Music 風雲榜 (G-Music Billboard) is pretty good. It’s based on sales on Taiwan, so it should be a pretty good complement to Baidu (downloads on the mainland).
Hey and on the topic of charts, are there any good Mainland and Taiwan radio charts?
The hit singles charts?
I don’t know of any, but I haven’t looked either. I doubt you’ll find any singles charts because Chinese artists don’t really release singles in the same way western artists do.
Speaking of charts, Chinese Music Blog has just launched a new chart based on several sources, you might want to check that out too...
Nice to see some other than asia plp interested in chinese music. How did u get into this?
I am chinese living in dk, so I am also using some of the method u have described:) Nice to find someone with same interest as me. We should exchange ideas about new songs and on..
How would one find “mp3 g” files when searching a Chinese site? I bought a player for a friend but am having a difficult time finding any files to burn or even a cd g for that matter.
Thank you so much for these sites for Chinese music. I tried the baidu site and clicked on a specific song, however, it opens it up in my media player instead. How can I download it into a folder instead? Thanks in advance.
Hello just wondering when i have finshed downloading the songs , each time i want to listen to the song i have to go back on the internet anyways to aviod this ?
Linda, Bella, you should save the files to your harddrive to avoid this problem. At the last step before you start playing the song instead of just clicking the link right click it and select “Save Target As” or something similar (different in different browsers and languages).
THANK YOU, THANK YOU AND THANK YOU! You have no idea how happy I am to finally be able to download chinese music! I”m Chinese but can’t read or write so this helps SO much! I can finally obtain songs from this one band Beyond. Whoo whoo. And its all because of you =]. Thank you phillip. I”m sure you have many many greatful subscribers to your blog including me.
I’m very happy to hear you found some use of my little guide, Linda!
I would also like to thank you. I am going to install aMule on my Mac and see what I can find. But in the meantime, perhaps you or someone else reading this could help me?
Since I can’t read Chinese, I have been using the google translation feature to search Chinese web sites for mp3 files of spoken Chinese. It feels like wandering naked and blind through a jungle. I have however, found a wonderful source of podcasts at Justing.com.cn
I haven’t yet however, succeeded in finding and downloading any audio-book files. I am hoping to find Mandarin translations of European fairy tales and other easy-to-understand literature. I would also love to find some Chinese childrens stories. This sort of material is readily available in the major European languages for free down-load. But the only material I have found on Chinese sites requires the use of Xunlei (Thunder gigaget) If you check out the Wikipedia entry on this, you will understand why I would never install it on my computer.
I have been using this to search: 有声小说 mp3
A site that seems to have the kind of material I am looking for is pingshu8.com
If anyone offer me even a little help, I would be grateful. If not, thanks for reading.
I don’t really listen to audiobooks in any language, but it looks like audiobooks are sometimes tagged 朗读版, or “read aloud version”. A little searching for 童话 (fairy tale, and also the name of that classic Michael Wong song) turned up this collection of children’s audio books: http://www.verycd.com/topics/132405/
The quality seems to vary but maybe you’ll find something in there.
That collection is in the 有声读物/audiobook category of VeryCD, I think you can find lots of good stuff in there. Don’t forget there’s an RSS feed for each category, so keeping track of new stuff is as easy as can be!
However, I suppose you’ll still be needing Google translation of this stuff since it’s all in Chinese. Good luck!
... hmmm... maybe I should listen to audiobooks too, to practice my Chinese 听力 ...
Wow!! Thank you so much.
I just installed aMule and, thanks to your help, was able to find and download a mass of files of the type I was looking for. Its going to take me a lot of time to sort through everything, but thats part of the fun.
I have no idea how good your comprehension of spoken Mandarin is. Hopefully its better than my reading comprehension. But if you or anyone else reading this, are looking for material that is interesting, and just a little bit easier than the podcasts at Justing.com.cn, I recommend the following:
Do you happen to know any websites that does not require the downloading of software to be able to download music from it? I cant get baidu to work on my computer for some reason...
Jen, in what way does Baidu MP3 not work? Can’t you find any results or is it that you can’t download the songs when clicking them?
hi, after i clicked on the song and it automatically downloaded, where does it go to? i have an imac and can’t locate the downloaded songs. also, any ways to transfer these files to an ipod?
love u so much! thx for everything...
I wasn’t able to DL off baidu either ):
I’ll press the song title and a window pops out, then I click the link, then it loads onto a new tab or window. The song plays but how do I download it?
kayden, Eunice: as I’ve already written above: At the last step before you start playing the song instead of just clicking the link right click it and select “Save Target As” or something similar (different in different browsers and languages).
Who are you? Please don’t use my language. Don’t come to my country. There is no place for you in my country. Please don’t download Chinese music from internet, its illegal. Sincerely!
Anonymous Fuck: Thanks for the advice, but I think I can decide for myself which languages to use, where to travel and what to download. Kisses!
Who are you? Please don’t use my language. Don’t come to my country. There is no place for you in my country. Please don’t download Chinese music from internet, its illegal. Sincerely!
Just a hilarious note: you’re like, using HIS language. xD Not that I’m against it. By the way, people in China use these methods too. I was born there, so I should know.
Anyway, very helpful guide! However, when I’m using EMule (I’m windows) to download from VeryCD, it just doesn’t rise above 0% downloaded...? Am I doing something wrong or is there an equivalent of seeders (as in torrents) for EMule and nobody’s ‘seeding’ it? Thanks.
C.C.: Yes, eDonkey needs “seeders” just like BitTorrent, so if you’re out of luck you won’t be able to download even if it’s on VeryCD. In my experience the most important things in order to find uploaders is to connect to a server with many users, be connected to Kad and to make sure that you’re not “firewalled” (e.g. if you actually have a firewall or share an IP with other computers). You can circumvent that either with port forwarding or enabling UPnP. Well, I guess there are guides and FAQs for that kind of stuff, hope you can sort it out... Start out with downloading something very popular to be sure that the problem isn’t that there actually aren’t any seeders.
Thanks! I’ll give the more popular ones a try.
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Using eMule is nice, but I don’t like how you get put in a download queue. I like to get them straight from blog sites such as
They’re not as complete, but they’re pretty up-to-date with the popular artists’ albums.
do you have any more URLs similar to the two you posted? they’re very helpful! thx!
hey i really want to get amber kuo’s i need you and 又圆了的月亮 i think its called its round again the moon
anyways i cant find it please help email me please!!1
I Need You is on 隱形超人 (http://www.verycd.com/topics/220142/). 又圓了的月亮 is from 愛異想 which is isn’t released yet (the release date is next Friday), so I doubt you can find that in any non-shit quality.
I need to download Creative Commons Chinese sound tracks for my home-made videos.
Commercial music is good for private listening but is no good for videos posted on video serving sites such as youtube.com.
Is there such a thing as Creative Commons music in China?
Creative Commons has a Chinese “branch” at http://cn.creativecommons.org/, but I really don’t know of any CC-licensed Chinese music. It seems that for a soundtrack you don’t want lyrics anyway, but perhaps that’s beside the point...
Sadly, it seems that chinese government will stop VeryCD.com soon!
We’ll get no free music any more!
We’re downloading VeryCD music,movie,game....Crazily recently .
Now we can download music.google.cn so called 合法 music free.
Hi, I usually use baidu on windows, but can’t seem to download from baidu on my macbook! Do you have any idea how i can go about doing it? ((:
Probably on Mac the MP3s play in the browser by default, just make sure to “right click” use “Save As...” at the last step.
Thank you so much for sharing. But can u please advise how to go about downloading karaoke songs? I have bought a karaoke set and it has the SD memory driver slots. Meaning to say I am able to download chinese karaoke songs from the net and sing away but i am not aware of the steps and from which website I am able to obtain the free downloads.
Can you please advise me? Thank you so much.
Nice tips. Baidu is a good tool to get Chinese songs, but is your IP is not in Chinese IP, you won’t get many result by searching on it because of the copy right issue.
top 100 new songs in chinese doesnt mean it’s top 100... just newest songs. just so you know.
Hi, good stuff! Thanks for info
But still i can’t find Anodize albums -大车店. If you ceould help i would appreciate that. I need their 1997 “Action Figures” and 1998 “Anodize 4” albums. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
Heloo All..Try to visit http://www.chikomusic.com for updated chinese music dowload...
wow...u can speak n write perfectly in chinese(中文）that’s gd...i am amaze....i did using baidu to d/load song,ur tips r useful,thk you...
i am able to talk eng,malay,chinese,hokkien,cantonise,shanghai(my mother tongue language).....hoping to learn hakka n teow chew too...haha....bye....
Hi!! Thank you very much for the wonderful instructions. I am a Filipino but most of my foreign friends have been telling me that I am not “Asian” enough. It was only during a recent trip to China and Korea that I was able to fully appreciate and love Asian culture. I’ve particularly grown fond of traditional and classical Chinese music. Unfortunately, record stores here in Manila do not have a large collection of Chinese albums. I’ve tried ordering CDs from Yesasia as well but I found that to be a bit too expensive for a college student like me. So yeah, your instructions were very helpful. I have downloaded not only Chinese stuffs from VeryCD but Korean as well and I’m really happy with the results. I must mention though that Google would sometimes crash as it tries to translate the page. Oddly enough, I can’t help but snicker every time that happens. Hee... Thanks! 🙂
You’re actually adorable. Love the post.
I like Chinese music too. You know, interest is the best teacher, when you like something, it’ll be much easier to learn it, so that you can handle Chinese well because you love it, the Chinese movies, music and language. I think you would agree with me. LOL
is VeryCD still available?? or the chinese government shut it down already? as far as downloading free musics and movies.....
Allen, VeryCD is still available, but there have certainly been some changes. You have click through a few more times before you get to the ed2k:// links than before. Some new music and movies seems to also not appear on VeryCD, I suspect that they’re making deals with content providers or something similar.
越南的三色冰（Vietnamese chè ba màu）很好吃。你吃过了吗？http://uyenvu.com/che
For others who are having a hard time finding Chinese MP3s, there are a lot of other Chinese sites you can download music or movies from. You just have to do a little bit more “research” 🙂
If you couldn’t find music in baidu, VeryCD, and gougou (狗狗), try http://mp3.sogou.com/ (搜狗音乐) instead.
Hi Philip. Thanks for this great help page. However, Verycd does not load on my pc. Are there any other sites to find mandopop albums in Flac/Ape or any other lossless formats? I am a great fan of Crowd Lu (卢广仲) 🙂
Not that I know of, no. VeryCD is still up and functional, perhaps you should investigate why it isn’t working for you instead?
It’s great to see that some people still believe in free music. It’s too bad there’s so many legal issues with doing this with music here in the US. But hey, I guess some countries don’t care as much. This is very useful for my friends at school, thank you.
Hi Philip, can u help me, usually i can open and listen music from baidu but recently when i try to listen to music, the web said that it can only access in china, actually i am not in china, so do you have any suggestion how can i listen music from baidu, and this also happen when i want to watch movie from tudou. how can i finding and configuring a proxy? thanks
thank you for a refreshing perspective that a westerner likes music other than their own,where I live as a chinese outside China there are people disgusted to hear foreign music even young chinese are a shame to hear their own music for fear of being labeled.WOW!
you give me inspiration
mp3.baidu.com banned IP from other countries. If you’re using it from the US or European countries, you will get no search result. So you need to use a proxy in China to access it. Here is a tutorial, hope it helps: http://baiduproxy.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-download-free-music.html
I LOVE CHINESE FOOD,TRADITION,MUSIC AND DARENESS
Thanks for this post. I have a little problem recently with verycd...I’ve been using it for a few years, but I lost my password and the mail address I registered with, so I made another account, but since then I can’t download anything, because the table with the files are invisible.I recieve a message like this: 该内容尚未提供权利证明，无法提供下载。I can’t understand Chinese, but maybe there’s a new rule when people can download?