EMI has partnered with Chinese internet search leader Baidu.com to offer a free music streaming service in China, the companies announced on Tuesday.

Baidu customers will be able to hear music from EMI's Typhoon Music label, which features mostly Chinese-language artists. The service will be supported by advertising, with revenue shared between Baidu and EMI.

The companies also agreed to explore advertising-supported music download services in the future, they said.

EMI called the deal a major breakthrough that would help it to control digital piracy in China, where the illegal copying of films, music and software are rife, according to various industry groups. Baidu said the partnership would set the stage for further deals between the internet and music industries.

Baidu holds a commanding lead in China's search market, with almost two-thirds of users turning to its service, according to figures from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). Google holds 25 per cent of the market, according to CNNIC.

Baidu will set up an EMI Music Zone in its music search channel that will stream EMI Music's Chinese music catalogue, including recordings from Jolin Tsai of Taiwan, Stephanie Sun of Singapore and Sandy Lam of Hong Kong. Users will be shown internet advertisements while the songs are playing.