Shanghai’s Dream Factory – to be an empty shell once more?

Soma has exited their partnership with Dream Factory...possibly opening up their own venue with Beijing's Mao Live

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We have covered the viccissitudes of Shanghai’s only mid-sized live venue in great detail. You can read the original assessment of the saga here, and the update here.

Well, it seems like Soma Records have bitten off more than they can chew, and are exiting their relationship with the Dream Factory after only 2 months of some great but mostly disappointing shows. Rumour abounds that they will team up with Beijing’s Mao and re-open Soma Live (or Mao Shanghai) in a venue that they have had their eyes on for quite some time. More to follow soon!!

What do you think?  Why didn’t the Dream Factory work as a proper venue.  Will Soma be able to work it out with another venue/ deal?

  • It didn’t work because Soma appear to believe in ‘brand’, ‘marketing’ and whatever else they learned from whatever seminars they went to.

    There is no mainstream music market in China. I don’t mean the music styles I mean the mechanics. The royalties and IP, the radioplay the record stores and the distribution. They’d have to be present in the proper working way backed by laws that were enforced. And even in countries that have all that in place, there are major changes for the digital age.

    Brad Ferguson’s gold standard for any scene was always how many bands are there who can play over an hour of quality original material. This is vital given the various difficulties and costs in getting overseas acts in too. You have to have enough city based bands for a foundation and to let potential fans feel connected to the culture.

    The only venue that has made a success of itself truly is Yuyintang and that took years of slow building based on community and city wide thinking, attracitng long term fans and followers who genuinely love the cultural side of it and like to come even if there’s 6 new student bands playing. Then they started to pull some sell out shows with slightly better bands on top of the foundations.

    Soma have only put on one true local show at DF and that was featuring their own managed acts. The promotion for it was limited to a singles night event posted at douban and a free fold-it-yourself card model on entry. It was obviously poorly attended.

    This next move is the same thinking … attract a ‘name’ (Mao) and the rest will follow. They are just oblivious to the realities of the scene.

    The other intruiging thing is how willing they are to work with each other. Do Soma have that much of an idea about gigs at Mao? More importantly, why would Mao want to partner with Soma? Soma have no track record and Mao do.

    Soma have yet to release one CD from their indietop label which is a year old. They have yet to run a sucessfull venue. What do Mao think they are going to get?

    I dunno, perhaps they will get lucky. We’d all love to open a venue with not enough bands to have a weekly good headliner who can attract non-regular punters and with no way to make profit from international acts (if they can get in at all) … and suddenly have a horde of new fans decide to come everyweek by magic. Sure, why not.

  • swami

    I don’t think the “Mao” brand name will do anything to help Dream Factory. The audience here doesn’t know or care much about it, and they already know the Dream Factory.

    However, Mao’s management might be able to do a better job. Just hope they offer talents better rates and customers fairer prices, than they do in Beijing. Shanghainese might have more cash than Beijing kids, but their spending habits are different.

  • Disappointing to hear considering I’m going to be playing at Zhejiang dreamfactory on the 25th (or am I?). So far as price is concerned, I think the most important thing are good venues that build up the “value” of the experience. 6 years ago, venues stayed half empty even with no cover at the door. Two years ago, Chinese kids were whining in Beijing at MAO about shows being over 30 RMB. Now they don’t even blink when shelling out 50 to 80RMB for a local band and more for named foreign acts.

    Right now, if you build it they will come, but only if you can last the first year of basically running in the red. If venues build up a good social atmosphere, provide good sound for the bands, and a steady and dependable performance schedule of Chinese bands. . . not catering exclusively to the occasional foreign act and the expat party crowd, Shanghai too can have a scene.

  • Pingback: Mao Shanghai | China Music Radar()

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