The past few days, the rumors and headliners are flying fast and loose on the Chinese Internet with regard to the potential lineup for August’s Shanghai Sonic. Yesterday the names bandied about included Muse, The Stone Roses, Aerosmith and Linkin Park. Today, another hypothetical schedule is already going viral, including Limp Bizkit and Korn, Avril Lavigne, John Legend and M.I.A. (twice in the same day, as a matter of fact). Although these speculations have created considerable excitement from music fans, we think that most of these early announcements should probably be taken with a grain (or a dish) of salt. Economically, it doesn’t add up (and others have chimed in to that effect). Most likely, the final Shanghai Sonic lineup will contain a few but certainly not all of the international names currently being mentioned, as well as some but not all of the domestic headliners. Regardless of how it all turns out in the end, we’ll be keeping an eye on the development of this festival.
Last week we told you Metallica was coming to Shanghai, Metallica sold out in Shanghai in 6 minutes, and even got in a not-so-subtle 1D dig. We guess the universe is a bubblegum pop fan, however, because this week brings the news that Justin Bieber is coming to China. Yup.
QQ Entertainment reports, from a screen shot of the teenybopper heartthrob’s website, that the Biebs will be playing shows in Beijing, Dalian and Shanghai over the October holiday this year. Do you think there are enough Mainland Beliebers for the shows to sell out faster than Metallica? We can’t wait to see.
Whilst fact-checking this little bit of news using the Google machine, we also came across this (satirical) gem. Considering the kind of shenanigans Bieber’s been in the news for recently, life just might imitate art come September.
You’ve heard the stories: “Glastonbury sells out in 30 minutes”, “One Direction Tour sells out in minutes”.
Well, finally we have our own happy narrative and despite the corporate metal allegations, our band is way better than One Direction.
According to the grapevine, Metallica tickets went onsale at 10am this morning. At 10.06am, there weren’t any left. The likelihood is that there will be a few more tickets available sometime towards the end of the month, once the venue configuration has been worked out (and you can always become a Metallica International Fan club member, perhaps) but the reality is, we have our own arena show sellout measured in minutes, which is a massive leap forward.
Fans are generally quite slow to buy tickets here in China, due to the rarity of shows actually selling out, and the proliferation of tickets usually available on the night courtesy of the huangniu.
Shows selling out creates buzz, creates excitement, creates a very real reason to buy early. Once people start missing out on shows they actually wanted to see, it will encourage them to buy early. this will keep tickets out of the hands of the scalpers, and enable promoters to accurately gauge demand, and should make the art of selling shows a less haphazard one
All hail Metallica, all hail China’s metal fans
Couple of bits and pieces leading into the non-weekend of Dragon Boat Festival:
Shanghai Sonic is looking more and more likely: produced by the promoters behind August’s Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Korea, the names floated around for Shanghai Sonic include Aerosmith, John Legend, MIA, Limp Bizkit (yup), Alt-J and Carly Rae Jepsen. The organizers have been telling local media, off the record, to save the weekend of August 17-18.
According to everyone including Metallica’s official website, tickets for the Shanghai show, scheduled for August 13, go on sale at 10AM local time on June 7. Reported ticket prices are 480, 980, 1280 and 1680 RMB.
For something new and different, our pals at Taihe Media are testing a new concept on the Chinese festival-going public. Taking advantage of a car- and outdoors-loving middle class, the open space in the outskirts of Beijing and gambling on the fascination/nostalgia associated with RVs (recreational vehicles), the Mi RV & Camping Festival is a week-long eclectic lineup of local bands, craft market, BBQ, film fest and even a “MLB-sanctioned” batting cage. Cool.
On March 28, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy Tweeted a photo of himself signing a contract in Simplified Chinese, saying “I know exactly what contract I’m signing; I think…” Picked up immediately by the band’s Chinese fans and music media, speculation ran rampant as to when the band would be playing in the mainland. Less than 2 days later, the Tweet and photo disappeared, and there has been no announcement of a Muse tour in the Far East. What happened? We have a few ideas.
Without getting into too much boring detail, the process for obtaining a performance permit from the Chinese Ministry of Culture is a bureaucratic, complicated process. Aspects of it have been highlighted by both the foreign press and music industry insiders, to varying degrees of accuracy. The process, which includes submitting set lists, song lyrics and videos to the MoC, is also well-known to Chinese music fans. After the photo was Tweeted and shared on Weibo by Muse fans in China and Hong Kong, it didn’t take long for the fans to start worrying about how certain Muse songs were less than “harmonious.” They quickly started an initiative to translate the band’s lyrics in a “louder” “redder” fashion. It should be emphasized that this was a purely fan-led initiative, without the knowledge or approval of the promoters.
Of course we don’t know what has (or hasn’t happened) with the band, their agent, and the promoters in the interim since the Tweet was posted and removed. Getting bands to China, especially ones of Muse’s size and production, is not an easy or time-efficient task. Therefore promoters like to keep details close to the vest until contracts are signed and permits submitted. To have something like the performance contract leak, even if the photo is too blurry to show details, complicates matters. And to have fans, especially the 脑残粉 (“brain-damaged fans” or superfans) insert themselves into the process only complicates matters further. We don’t want to sound patronizing, but certain processes are better left to the professionals. If Muse does end up coming to China, it will be in spite of the intervention by fans. And if they don’t, one reason – of potentially many – might be because of the leaked photo and subsequent translation initiative.
We want to see more and more worthwhile arena shows. We understand that in the age of social media and the Internet it is harder and harder to control the process and consequences of information sharing. It is the fans that make it possible to bring artists to China, and we appreciate their dedication to the cause, but in a still-sensitive performance climate, in order to achieve our collective goals, music promoters need the space and freedom to do their jobs properly. The Chinese authorities have proved time and again that in order to keep expanding the size and diversity of artists coming to China, we need to keep as low a profile as possible. It is our hope that one day we will be free to bring in bands quickly and easily and without the acres of bureaucratic nonsense that we currently endure, but that day is not today and in the meantime, we must work with what we are given. Three years ago, it was inconceivable that a band like Muse would be anywhere near coming to China. Today, we accept it as almost normal. How far we have come!
Are you sad you missed out on Michael Bolton the last time he played in Shanghai? Too young to see Shawn Colvin at Lilith Fair? Here’s your chance to see nine Grammy winners in concert, at the Night of Fortune Grammy Superstars Concert in Chengdu. Supposedly the closing party for the 2013 Fortune Global Forum, the lineup includes Leo Sayer, Jody Watley, Shawn Colvin, Richard Marx, Yolanda Adams, Patti Austin, Diane Schuur, and Michael Bolton. We’re not exactly sure what these stars have in common with the confirmed conference attendees, which read like a Who’s Who of international and Chinese companies, SOEs, and media.
The Grammy winners will be joined by Chinese stars including pianist Lang Lang, Cantopop singers Nicholas Tse and Joey Yung, and PLA-approved songstresses Song Zuying and Tan Jing. Prices range in price from 186 RMB all the way to a staggering 7320 RMB for VVIP tickets which includes some quality hangout time with Michael Bolton, Yolanda Adams and Jody Watley.
The Global Forum takes place from June 6-8 in Chengdu. The closing party is June 8 at Chengdu Gymnasium. Damai has tickets … if you’re so inclined.
Universal Music China has tapped Garand Wu for Managing Director, from a press release by the company in late April.
The appointment, effective immediately, was announced by Sunny Chang, Managing Director, Universal Music Greater China.
In his new role, Mr. Wu will oversee a full range of services and operations including Marketing, Promotion, Sales and Finance. He will co-manage A&R for Universal Music China with Mr. Chang.
Before joining Universal Music, Mr. Wu was Senior Marketing Director of the International Division of EMI Music Taiwan after holding a post as Regional Marketing Director, overseeing International Repertoire for EMI Music Asia. Since 2009, he has operated his own business specializing in strategic marketing and C&C (creative and content), offering services and solutions such as event promotion, production and artist management across South East Asia.
Sunny Chang, Managing Director, Universal Music Greater China, said: “Garand’s comprehensive track record and knowledge of the strategic marketing sector in the region will be an important part of our future growth plans.”
George Ash, President of Universal Music Asia Pacific, added: “Garand is a highly experienced executive whose leadership and expertise in marketing and label management make him an invaluable force for the company in the region.”
The Diplomat has an interesting short piece about punk rock in Asia. Focusing mostly on the punks of Burma, who are still profoundly an underground subculture despite the country’s recent opening up, and Indonesia, whose punks was detained and shaved by conservative government authorities in 2011, the piece raises an interesting point about whether “true” punk can only flourish in oppressive environments. To illustrate this potential conflict, the writer raises the example of Johnny Rotten and Public Image Ltd. (PiL)’s recent shows in mainland China.
Whereas “The punks … in Burma were beyond just wearing the fashion—they truly had an ideology and something that they strongly believed in. It’s about what they believe in, rather than how they look, that is the most important thing,” there were no issues for PiL to perform openly in China, “underscoring the lack of political threat posed today by the West’s punk pioneers.”
If you thought the specter / international dance phenomenon / long international nightmare of ‘Gangnam Style’ was over, we have unfortunate news to report: PSY will be ubiquitous in China once more this Spring Festival (Chunjie) season. The 34-year old Korean rapper, known to many of his Chinese fans as “Uncle Bird” has already booked appearances at the Jiangsu Song concert in Nanjing (on February 2nd) and an appearance on Shanghai Dragon Television’s Spring Festival Gala.
If you’ve been living on the Siberian taiga for the last 70 years, in 2012, Psy shot to global fame with his hit single “Gangnam Style.” The music video has already exceeded 1 billion views on YouTube and PSY himself has over 4 million followers on China’s Twitter-esque Sina Weibo, netting him the designation of No. 1 celebrity for 2012. “Gangnam Style” (or “江南style” even has its one animated emoticon on the service.
Edit 2/1/2013: Correction, that should be Dragon TV (东方卫视) not Phoenix TV (凤凰卫视).