Over at Beijing Daze, there is a small amount of doubt lingering over MIDI Festival 2011. Certainly we’ve heard a couple of reports that the sensitive spring that we are having might be putting spanners in the various MIDI works (and those of Strawberry too, truth be told). Of course, there were issues with nationalistic Japanese flag burning last October, something that the NY Times somewhat sensationally covered. We predicted this coverage might have repercussions, literally
Music Festivals in China are in no way a fait accompli – just because the government has been involved increasingly in the last couple of years, a single missive from the centre could put paid to festivals entirely. The first page of the article basically highlights every single anti authoritarian element of Midi in particular and seems to be excessively sensationalist. It strikes us that coverage like this might be a double edged sword for China’s festival industry.
In these Jazzy Mine times, perhaps the risks of backfire are just too great.
Fingers and toes crossed that the authorities don’t mess with the Beijing festivals again. Cancellations play havoc with the reputation of Chinese festivals both domestically and internationally.
There have been many false dawns and don’t hold your breath, but there is positive news in the fight against piracy in China. According to Chinatechnews, China’s Ministry of Culture have issued a directive that says “irregular and illegal music websites” will be closed down. Websites have until the 10th January to comply with this directive.
We assume this means the end of the MP3 part of Baidu, and several other major players in this space. Hao Ting – one of China’s largest music streaming websites – actually closed doors on December 28th, with speculation rife that the end was due to an inability to obtain legal status for its enormous library of tracks.
We will be watching interestedly to see how this pans out.
Jon Campbell is a stalwart of China’s music scene. He is writing a book about Rock in China. It will be published by the good people at Earnshaw Books. First draft is nearly complete according to Jon, so expect to see it adorning the shelves of on-and-offline bookshops by the end of the year. Anyway, we had heard from a few band friends that they were playing across the summer in Zhenjiang at a Midi organized series of events in the town square.
Some bands performing at the Midi Festival sessions at Zhejiang’s town square
We knew that Jon had taken some bands there, so we asked him for a few words. He gave us a few thousand and here it is in all its glory…
There is a story that has been circulating for some time, regarding the ex-boss of China Mobile’s Music division, RMB400m (nearly US$60m) and flight.
So far, this article from no-holds barred HK based bilingual business magazine Caixin sums it up the best. According to them, Li Xiangdong went missing in March of this year, along with (it is estimated) RMB400m of cash. Mr. Li has been heading up the Sichuan Mobile Data Department as well as its Mobile Music Operations Centre, essentially the CRBT (Caller Ring Back Tone) department of China Mobile.
Summary: he has legged it with a massive amount of money.
How it happened will more than likely be the source of a big investigation, but this is the quote that we love:
It appears Li was not satisfied with his high-profile status as a key figure in developing the mobile music business in China. Instead, he allegedly used his lord-like power to control the service provider selection process and build a parasitic fiefdom.
You may remember we had a bit of an issue with a Suzhou Government sponsored festival confirming a rather big band for their event when they really hadn’t. Green Day, Glay and Cui Jian who were all “confirmed” have now been replaced by Sinead o’Connor, Simple Plan, 张震岳, 黄家强, 痛仰, 瘦人, 许巍, 汪峰.
The organizers led the bands a merry dance though. They “offered” on a huge number of artists, most of whom accepted (the terms were pretty generous). They then went quiet for a while and when pushed, told us that the artists that had accepted the offers were being put before the Suzhou government for selection. When 90% of the bands that had received “offers” were subsequently rejected, there were plenty of peed off Western music industry folks and yet another feather in the cap of China’s international music industry reputation…
But hey, we’ve got Simple Plan. It’s gonna be one massive government organized jamboree…
Culturally, there was great excitement around the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This was a chance for the outside world to witness what we’ve know for some time – that Beijing has a thriving, diverse music and arts scene that is growing year on year.
In the end, however, Beijing was just about the most boring place in the entire world for a 3 month period leading up to August 2008. Nearly every venue was closed for the lead up and duration of the big O – the city was completely locked down to musicians, artists and even brands and national bodies that had been planning for the Olympics for up to 3 years. Damp squib – hell yeah! Continue reading →
MODERN SKY FESTIVAL 2009 We’d been planning to go up to Beijing for a while. The combination of the 60th Anniversary of China’s Communist Party, a city with artificially beautiful skies, and the Buzzcocks playing the Modern Sky Festival in ChaoYang Park in the middle of it all was too much to resist. Of course, the hugely unfortunate cancellation of all 14 international artists from the bill added a sense of mystery. Why had it happened?
OK, not 100% music related, but we do often have to do official bits and pieces and it is certainly the case that drinking and business in China go hand in hand. If you don’t like BaiJiu (sorghum distilled liquor) then don’t even think about trying to get ahead here. What we loved the most in this related article (after the jump) is the following passage:
Xinhua (ED: official news agency) said about 500 billion yuan (73 billion dollars) in public funds is spent each year on official banquets, nearly one-third of the nation’s spending on dining out.
You can indulge in the full article HERE and if that has increased your thirst for all things Baijiu, check out this video – again, completely un-music-related, but sums up the great drink nicely!
Baijiu: alcohol for the iron stomach and iron tastebuds