Some disheartening news passed by our desks earlier today. Shenzhen-based electronic musician Gavintoo has been embroiled in an IP dispute with one of China’s largest cosmetics companies, the L’Oreal-owned Yue-Sai. The root of the conflict is simple: Gavintoo discovered that Yue-Sai had appropriated, without a peep or hint of compensation, his original song “Si je t’aime” as the opening-credits theme in a web-only TV series produced by the company. In 2010.
At the beginning of April 2012, Gavintoo and his label, Mintelec Records, posted an open letter on their Sina Weibo accounts with the bold headline “Please Respect Musicians, Do You Understand?” In the letter, which has been re-posted almost 2000 times, Gavintoo details the dismissive treatment he received from both the cosmetics giant as well as the agency responsible for the campaign. When early inquiries to Yue-Sai were rebuffed, they upped the ante to cease & desist letters sent to both Yue-Sai and the production company. The letter concludes with a reiteration of their demands: remove the song from the web series and justly compensate the artist for the use of his creative property, as well as a general appeal for greater respect of musicians and their work.
Forgive us the cliché, but China is still the Wild West of copyright and intellectual property rights. Shanzhai knockoffs, software clones and blatant theft of creative property all thrive right now, and we’re not positive when that’s all going to change. When it’s this easy to go unnoticed for nearly 2 years, why would you?
Hat tip to Twitter, Peter Schloss and Music Dish China for this. Following in the footsteps of Shanghai and Guangzhou, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has announced a Beijing chapter of the National Music Industry Base, which will
“Develop classic music and music with Chinese characteristics that cater for the demand of the international market, and forge a complete industrial chain. It aims to build a national music composition and production center, an international musical performance and consumption center, a national digital music production and dissemination center, a national music industry service center, as well as a national music copyright protection and trading center.”
Two things jump out to us immediately. One, the national music copyright protection and trading center. Good luck, guys? We’d be interested to see what kind of corporate tie-ins this new base has with the record labels and current popular (if less-than-legal) digital streaming platforms such as Xiami.
Two, the members of the Base include the 1919 Music and Culture Industry Base, Beijing Music Creative Industry Park, China Record Corporation’s music center, Tianqiao Performing Arts Park, China Music Valley, Xishan Cultural Creativity Avenue, and a digital music demonstration park. A quick glance at the names screams “government organisations” to us, with no private-sector participation. It remains an open question whether these government-backed entities will be able to compete or police the big private corporation players in the industry.
In a follow up (or is it an addition – we don’t really know) to the Creators Project and Motherboard, Vice and their two main partners Intel and Dell have come up with Noisey, a music discovery platform. Featuring 2 bands from Beijing already (Birdstriking and 24 Hours), Noisey is about to launch officially with a party this weekend in, you guessed it, Beijing.
On a global basis, we are seeing more of these publisher, brand, editorial connections – immediately the Dazed and Swatch: Satellite Voices springs to mind. They definitely look good and serve a purpose. The only concern we would have is that significant and loyal fan bases take time to amass, and brand horizons don’t always tend to be that long. However, Vice in particular have done a good job in creating these long partnerships, which become stronger as time goes on. Get your ticket for the show by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You get PK14, Hedgehog and Offset: Spectacles for free – what could be better than that?
According to AFP, for 30RMB you can pick up a hacked iTunes account on Taobao and use it to buy movies, games, apps and music for around US$30 within a 24 hour period.
In light of the heady combination of a current availability of all this content on the Chinese ‘net for free, non-existant laws to limit content sharing in China via P2P and the average Chinese lack of knowledge of the iTunes store and all things DRM, why on earth would anyone spend 30 bones on an illegal iTunes account that you can only use for 24 hours.
For those that didn’t know, the World Intellectual Property Organization is meeting in Beijing this week. You can find out more about WIPO here.
According to Music Week, the IFPI’s CEO had the following choice words to say at the start of the conference yesterday:
IFPI chief executive Frances Moore told a WIPO conference in Beijing this morning that internet piracy in China is happening on a “devastating scale” and threatening to throttle the potential of the legitimate market.
Moore called on the ISPs to help turn the crisis around. Moore said, “ISPs are uniquely placed to curb online infringement…specifically we need ISPs to take down infringing content that they host, but also to take action to block infringing websites and to help curb piracy over peer-to-peer networks.”
She also pointed out that another “major obstacle” to the music industry in China is the lack of performance rights.
Treading a careful line, which wouldn’t antagonize the host country, Moore praised China’s commitment to helping to promote creative and cultural industries. She added, “China has a long and rich musical tradition. We appreciate the Government’s desire to enforce intellectual property rights effectively and ensure a legal framework that permits rights holders to be fairly rewarded.”
Nothing particularly new or revelationary here. Just thought we would let you know
Artists struggle to sell any music at all in China. That we understand and those of us in the music industry here work within those parameters. On the other hand, companies generally play by the rules and compensate artists when they use their work. Contrary to this assumption, a story has surfaced online that runs as follows:
Tudou (the online video company) uses a track from Maybe Mars band Carsick Cars in a promotional video, sponsored by HP.
Friend of the label sees aforementioned video in a Shanghai taxi. Bear in mind that this is a proper commercial for both Tudou and HP.
Maybe Mars, a little miffed, contact Tudou on behalf of their copyrighted material and their band
After 3 weeks of asking for not much more than an apology and a promise to consult the copyright holder in the future, Tudou basically tell Maybe Mars to “get bent” and “sue us”
We are paraphrasing, of course, but the sentiment remains the same. According to Maybe Mars, Tudou were incredibly rude, unapologetic and eventually claimed “we are not music people and we can’t tell if this song is actually one of Carsick Cars or not”.
Not good behavior from an online video sharing service that claims to protect the rights of the creator. Boo hiss.
(we saw the video 5 minutes ago, but it has already been taken down)
It’s been on the cards for quite some times, but handset manufacturer Nokia launched their “Comes With Music” service offering yesterday here in China. There will be 8 handsets that will come with the service immediately, and customers already in possession of one of those 8 handsets will be able to retrospectively activate CWM. All 4 majors are on board, but over 50% of the catalogue on offer will be domestic (i.e. Mandarin language).
This is definitely an interesting step – in a country where music is essentially free anyway, will the chance of getting this entire catalogue (clean and DRM-free) on your phone prove attractive to potential consumers? Whatever happens, it is good news for the virtually non-existent market for recorded music…
CHINA DIGITAL MUSIC MARKET TO IMPROVE STEADILY: IRESEARCH
BEIJING – China’s digital music market is expected to continue the steady development in 2010 and realize a market revenue of 2.15 billion yuan (US$315 million) in 2011, according to iResearch, the market research company.
The industry’s revenue is estimated to hit 1.79 billion yuan in 2009, up 8.2 per cent year on year. The growth rate has dropped slightly from 8.8 per cent in 2008, probably due a slowdown in the wireless music business section, the revenue of which accounts for more than 90 per cent of the industry’s total.
Iconic record label group Beggars (home to XL, Matador, 4AD, Rough Trade) has today formally begun operations in China. We knew about this a while back and we have also spotted a lot of activity on the social networks here (artist pages being set up, content being written), but the press release was issued today. Beggars will be advised by Beijing based consultancy Outdustry. Physical releases will be through local label Jingwen and Taiwanese label Hi-Note, online and mobile distribution through the online store Wawawa.
The Radar recently came across this Larry LeBlanc (former longtime editor of Billboard Canada) interview with Jasper Donat. Donat, co-founder and executive director of Hong Kong-based entertainment marketing agency Branded, is also the president of Branded’s annual music industry conference, Music Matters, which we liveblogged last year and which we are psyched for this year. The interview contains some good insights on what the future holds for the music industry in Asia. Some of Donat’s notable quotables after the jump. But first, some more mindblowing China numbers from LeBlanc:
“In contrast to the Western culture, Asian youth prefer to download their favorite songs on to their mobile devices rather than computers. According to Chinese government figures, about 84% of China’s nearly 300 million Internet users download music over the Internet, and most of it is used for cell phone ring tones. In April, 2008, China Mobile started its testing of the third generation (3G) of mobile communication in 8 cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang and Xiamen). While test results have not been made public, it predicted that the 3G usage will surge up to 100 million in China by 2011.”