Song Ke on the declining state of China’s music industry

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Song Ke, one of China’s most prominent music industry veterans. Ex Warner China and more recently as head of Taihe Rye Music, he is in a pretty good place to judge the state of the local market. After resigning as GM of Taihe, he took the time to pen an opinion piece in Lifeweek, as pointed out by Beijing Daze. As they haven’t followed through with their promise to translate :-) we’ve done it for them and synopsized his thoughts. It’s the pretty standard gripes of music industry executives worldwide, wich some localized slants.

He thinks the most essential thing for the record industry is to build a reasonable system. He draws the conclusion that If music content providers can not get at least 40% of the profits from the commercial distribution system, they can’t continue to afford to play the game. Music is not like film (which contains more ideology and content). That’s the main reason why Chinese people overlook music: government has no interest in fostering a music industry.

Not only is the ratio of profits killing the music industry, but also new technologies. The Internet is accelerating the death of music industry. The progress in the film industry has been from black and white to 3D IMAX, while music platforms are moving backwards from CD to MP3. He thinks iTunes is average, encouraging the tolerance of a lowering of standards. When people cannot see the lyrics and artworks of an album, they lose the interest to pay for it. In addition, there are no strong standards to control the spread and illegal copy of music, which makes it look cheap and worthless.

He also mentioned the deal between China mobile and content providers.  Even though the music industry does make considerable money by selling ringtones, China mobile gets the lions share of revenues rather than the content owners. As for media, both promotional strength and artistic aesthetic are degenerating as well. The root of the problem remains unresolved: people who create the content don’t know how much they are really worth. The record industry should blame no one but themselves for those problems, they deserve to lose.

  • Cee

    What these guys are doing is music but as for some other things out there I wish true musicians would stand up for music. Some things are ARTISTIC expression and then other things are merely public masterbation….I don’t know if anyone else is brave enough in the music world to confront this but promotion of foolish cultures in music MUST STOP!!! Please SHARE! Help this GO WORLD WIDE if you LOVE what Music and Art should be.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS8ef1_nN8w

  • Jonathan

    Technology isn’t killing the music industry, it’s killing the distribution based business model that made a lot of people very rich in the US. Given China’s weak IPR environment, that model doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway. Musicians in China need to think outside the box and help build a live music infrastructure if they want to make money. Touring in China is too damn difficult and that’s where money comes from at this point: playing live.

    Building a reasonable system in China is a pipe dream, what needs to happen is that artists have to be creative and do something very disruptive. I admit I have no idea what that is, but it’s time to forget about how the record industry used to work and figure out what’s next.

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