A little intro for the uninitiated. KTV is the colloquial term for “Karaoke TV”, and is probably the most popular way for Chinese youth to interface with music. Groups rent out a room with a big TV and a seemingly bottomless pit of sugary Canto and Mando pop videos, then lounge around on sofas, singing and carousing. There are other versions of KTV in increasingly sordid varieties, but we will leave that for other blogs to discuss.
What is incredible is that even these highly visible and entrenched institutions indulge in blatant piracy every day of the week. According to this Beijinger investigation, only 10 of Beijing’s 1,500 pay any sort of royalty on the songs that they let their customers sing.
At the end of 2006 the National Copyright Administration introduced new rules that required the owners of all KTV clubs to pay a copyright fee for the use of the music videos played in their venues.
The results have been stunning. 10 of Beijing’s 1,500 establishments were joined by 100 of Shanghai’s 1,400 in paying the measly 11RMB (US$1.50) per room per day.
However, the body in charge of the regulation, the China Audio-Video Copyright Association (CAVCA) is getting tough and slapping lawsuits on around 100 of the rebels. Is this another step towards increasing protection and revenue sharing for the artists here in China? We at the Radar certainly hope so. However, the last time we went to KTV with a Chinese client, the TV and karaoke box served simply as background noise. Everyone else was concentrating on a variety of drinking games with dice. And the cost, for 4 people? Nearly US$5,000 (we weren’t paying, thank God!). Surely a single buck wouldn’t be to much to ask for legitimacy and a clean conscience…