With a RMB1m prize purse (including cash, equipment, a national concert tour and recording time in LA), and “up to 5,000 concert auditions”, Pepsi have made a commitment to the “real” Chinese underground music scene by announcing a new reality TV program to air over 7 months on the Zhejiang satellite network.
Interestingly, this has been put together by the creators of “Wo Xing, Wo Show”, the long running Chinese “American Idol”. They have sold it into Zhejiang TV and Pepsi simultaneously as something that reflects the changing state of the Chinese music market. China West’s Steve Sybesma is an executive producer.
We applaud Pepsi for taking this step and we hope that it brings much needed investment and diversity into China’s musical landscape. However, we have some reservations about the concept.
- What is the definition of “underground”. We cannot imagine Chinese TV airing punk, metal, abstract, electronica or even rockabilly. What does this leave them with? We would guess at live “pop” (as opposed to the lip syncing that we’ve been subjected to over recent years) which is, we suppose, a step in the right direction.
- Pepsi’s bottlers will help them to organise up to 5,000 concerts in over 20 cities. Wow. We have pretty extensive experience in 10 cities and while there are some enthusiastic bands out there, and also some extremely good ones, the talent pool is still pretty thin, and most of the good ones come from the minority genres in point 1 above. This is not the US or the UK where there are 1000’s and 1000’s of wannabee bands practising relentlessly and honing their crafts in tiny bars and pubs out of the back of a van.
Personally, we look forward to seeing year 1 of this. Good luck to all the participants.