Insights from Xiami on the Recorded Music Industry in China

Xiami (a major Chinese music streaming service) recently published a series of key stats that help us get a better picture of how the recorded music industry in China has developed over the last 5 or so years. It’s interesting to see how China’s market share has grown, shifting the axis of creative output away from the traditional centres of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

We will repurpose the graphics here, appending them with English translations. Original insights can be found on the Xiami website.

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The number of music releases (all formats) in China from 2009 – the first half of 2014 (unit = 000s).

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Slowdive Hit Shanghai

So as you may know, shoegaze pioneers Slowdive played Shanghai as part of their reunion tour last weekend. Serious fans were pleasantly surprised the band would be making an appearance in the Mainland – all in all between 500-600 turned up according to and our contributors. This isn’t a bad turnout but it could arguably have been better, given that Neil Halstead’s last solo performance in China pulled in about 600 fans.

There was a bit of a kafuffle with the ticketing at QSW – they tried to introduce a tiered ticketing offering with balcony tickets going for 280RMB vs. basement floor tickets going for 330RMB. In the end the venue didn’t sell enough so the crowd were all directed to the basement floor, with the balcony becoming a VIP area.

Though the performance reportedly paled in comparison to their appearance at Primavera (fair enough) it seemed the band was well received.’s Chinese language feature contains some great pics that we’ll repurpose here.

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(Photos by 与丽丽安)

Self-Reflection: 2010 to Now

Back in 2010 we wrote a nostalgic piece that acknowledged the passing of our 3rd anniversary. We hoped, to quote, that “you will grin and bear us for another 3 years”. Well hasn’t time flown!

More importantly perhaps, we shared a number of hopes and predictions with our audience. Let’s take a look at how far we as an industry have come:

We Said:

  • China will develop at least one truly world-class music festival.

 Four Years Later:

We think that Modern Sky’s Strawberry fest (草莓)– while arguably not a world-class festival in terms of production – has actually become a Chinese festival that could match any in the world with respect to audience, reach and reputation.  Ultimately, a world class music festival is one that becomes a right of passage for the kids making the step up into adulthood.  Strawberry is certainly close to being that.

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Budweiser Storm Needs More Arcturians – An #EDM State Of Mind

The first lineup announcement for the second edition of China’s self proclaimed biggest #EDM festival is out.  Budweiser Storm returns with an entirely predictable first announcement of Avicii, some of the Swedish House Mafia dudes (perhaps one of the ones that played last year, or is it the other two?), Afrojack, Dash Berlin (yes, we are still using DJ Mag Top 10 references as benchmarks of quality) and Knife Party.  So far, so safe.

(Storm 2013 after-movie – right up Tom Cruise’s street)

2014 has been a big year for #EDM spending, with 2 of Chinese big music marketers (Heineken and Budweiser) tying their flag in no small way to the globally corporatised bastard child of electronic music.  The moneymen here in China have also decided that #EDM is going to provide a massive ROI.  After evident successes with Ultra Music Festival and Global Gathering in Korea, why would China not follow the same path, goes the thinking?  2014 has seen the emergence of a multitude of festivals devoted to electronic music, from Electric Circus, to the 3rd edition of the Great Wall Festival (organised by China’s own SFU Entertainment – a little too close to the SFX Entertainment name for our liking), to Release (organised by Modern Art Entertainment), to a slew of other such festivals that are planned for the autumn of this year, mostly in Beijing.  And of course, there’s Budweiser Storm.

(Great Wall Festival – “Walls of inclusiveness” according to the anchor, who manages to squeeze a word out amongst a throng of laowai’s who’ve had a little too much pop and ice cream).

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Words From: Alessio Avezzano of Live Circus

Live Circus is a creative business founded by Alessio Avezzano. Originally based in Glasgow, Scotland, Alessio now operates out of Shanghai, where he collaborates with artists and musicians from around the world to produce sometimes quirky, sometimes funny, at the very least well made music videos and short films, amongst other things. We shot some questions over to Alessio to find out what got him going.


Alessio doing his thing


The desire to have this interview with you came about from this terrific/terrifying video that flew up in our faces from Shanghai act Round Eye:

They’ve packed in a lot:

  • The calculative practice of parents coordinating meetups (介绍) to pair off their kids (in this case the daughter is promised a ‘tall / rich / handsome’ – 高富帅).
  • Unyielding parents keeping a close eye on their daughters
  • Reference to Xintiandi, that place where people go to drink expensive Tsingdao
  • Acknowledgment of China’s beauty ideals, and the association of tans with the peasantry.

Basically, it’s pretty loaded! What are your thoughts on the concept? Do you think being able to joke about the crap local kids have to deal with is a good way for the band to garner some love?

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Words From A small-mid Sized Venue Owner – Making It Happen in Shanghai

Venues provide critical points of contact between artists, fans, and increasingly, brands. Yet it seems venues – and the people that run them – are often left out of the conversation. The purpose of this interview is to get an update from a small-mid sized venue in respect of recent developments in the live music industry, and where the onus of responsibility for its future development lies.

We caught up with Sacco, co-founder of 390 Bar - a 250-capacity venue that sits on a quaint street in Changning district – and owner of Uptown Records, one of our favourite (and only) record stores here.


(ChaCha supporting Nite Jewel, Oct 2013)
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Lowery On the Law: IP Talk at the U.S. Consulate

On the 26th June just before Cracker’s debut tour in China (a partnership between the US Embassy and Split Works), we attended a panel at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai concerning something along the lines of the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights in China. We managed to cobble together some takeaways even though the discussion was a little too short to do the subject justice, and lacked a clear direction.

Speakers included:

David LoweryCracker front man and copyright evangelist
Archie Hamilton – MD, Split Works / Splatter China
Bill Zang – Vice President, Shanghai Synergy Culture & Entertainment Group
Edward Qi – CEO / Founder, 2 News Net Broadcasting and Technology
Paul Stanley – Moderator

The audience of Cracker fans and consulate staff were eased into the panel by the moderator, who got Lowery to set the scene by describing what was involved in creating a record. He sensibly confessed that actually the majority of the work (and certainly spend) goes into promoting a release.


About five minutes later, what was a discussion swiftly became a contentious debate that centred around the views of Lowery and Hamilton. The debate was nothing radically different from what we’ve seen/heard/read about so many times before. Those who are ‘for’ intellectual property rights are pitched against those of a more egalitarian disposition, who believe IP rights are a vehicle for centralizing power and control.

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The World Underground Sneak Peak

We previously blogged about The World Underground project. In the creator’s own words, the documentary:

 “…is a global idea, starting with China, Montana, and Chicago.  A new web series capturing moments in time from underground music scenes around the world.  To be released online, for donation only, free to all if you so choose.”

Well, it looks like the gears are turning – there will be an event on July 10th where you can get a “rough, censored” sneak-peak of the final work. What’s more, there will be a bunch of bands playing including SUBS, Stolen, Chui Wan, Residence A and Diders.


If you backed the project then thanks for doing your part to ensure we archive what’s going on – maybe we’ll look back to this time as being a golden age for independent music!

Follow-up: 2014 Zhangbei Inmusic Festival – Lorde to headline?

For those of you who did hold your breaths, the official line-up is out, and oh what a surprise one of the world’s hottest acts will not be gracing the stage of a festival located in a far off hinterland. Furthermore the festival appears to be sponsored by our favourite sanguine bovine. Coco Rosie’s appearance will also be missed by some. However, SEPULTURA.

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