UPDATE: the first version of this article was not exactly what we had planned. More below!
From a post on Yuyintang’s Douban group earlier this month, it looks like the go-to venue in Shanghai has started permitting all shows there, regardless of whether a local, foreign or international band is playing (thanks to the ever vigilant Slinkrat blog for bringing it to our attention) The actual regulations are not very complicated, and licensing for a majority of shows at YYT has been compulsory for quite some time:
1. Bands are asked to provide photocopies of their IDs or passports.
2. Bands must provide song lyrics, audio and video. If the song lyrics are in English, they need to be translated into Chinese.
3. Local bands are asked to submit materials 1 month in advance while foreign bands should submit them 2 months in advance.
This is the process for permitting any show in Shanghai, and one of the steps in obtaining a performance visa for any foreign artist coming to the Mainland for show(s).
According to Yuyintang owner Zhang Haisheng, these regulations are not new; but Yuyintang has begun to implement them more universally. Yuyintang is the premiere small- to medium-sized live music venue in Shanghai and the de facto homebase for many local bands and promoters. But in order to endure, and not run afoul of the authorities, it makes sense for them to, you know, follow the rules. Though providing the materials may seem like a hassle or mafan to some, the bottom line is that the extra step ensures the continued, unimpeded operation of Yuyintang. At the same time, once a band has prepared these materials once, it is done and will be a simple repeat the next time around.
Of course, the extra bureaucracy and cost is unfortunate, but in the past year, we’ve seen more live music than ever before in Shanghai, both at Yuyintang and in other venues. This couldn’t make us happier. Yuyintang has become a professionally run venue more akin to a Mao or even the Mixing Room than a Harley’s, Beedees or Logo. As a business in China becomes more “institutional” it tends to have to follow the rules a little more closely. Yuyintang has been under the watchful eye of the local police and cultural bureau for years now and this is a necessary change. It also gives smaller, nimbler, more under-the-radar venues the chance to step up and play host to more of these local showcases and underground bands.
Progress is good, even though it can sometimes be painful. Onwards.