Over at Slink Rat, Shanghai musician Adam McRae, better known as Reykjavictim has written up an account of his south China tour (Wuhan, Guangzhou and Hong Kong). It’s a thoroughly interesting read, especially compared to the interview with Jef Vreys of New Noise from last week. While there are more and more non-native Chinese musicians embarking on tour routes all over China — see thruoutin and Slink Rat’s alter ego Pairs — Vreys echoes complaints made by other China rock promoters and watchers about local bands’ unwillingness, inability or both to promote their own music to a wider audience locally or internationally.
Two weekends ago, Expo Park (that hotbed of musical and cultural activity) played host to a new pop-heavy music festival, the White Music Festival. Produced by Taiwanese media company Idea Music, the festival boasted a credible lineup of stars including Hebe 田馥甄, Yoga Lin 林宥嘉, Joanna Wang 王若琳, Sammi Cheng 郑秀文 and many others.
Due in part to the pop-idol nature of the artists, the White Music Festival implemented a rather creative two-tiered ticketing system for “fans” and regular attendees, available through the traditional channels (Damai) as well as popular Chinese culture social-networking site Douban. The festival issued 500 fan tickets (粉丝票) at 688 RMB, which included general admission, fan area admission and a festival t-shirt. With a fan ticket, attendees were able to watch the set of their favourite performer from the fans-only area, for the duration of that artist’s set. Like an assembly line, fan ticket holders gathered at the entrance to the cordoned-off area before their idols were set to play. Festival staff ushered them in for the set, and then ushered them out again to make way for the next set of ticketholders. It was guaranteed placement in prime real estate for any ticketholder’s favourite performer. For the rest of the festival, attendees were welcome to enjoy the concerts from the general-admission areas.
For many local music fans, there still exists a vast divide between listening to their favourite artists in the comfort of their own home and braving large, pushy crowds at arena concerts and music festivals. But Chinese fans are also some of the most dedicated and “nao can” (“brain-damaged”) fans of pop idols. Though Radar compatriots Split Works and Wooozy do not usually traffic in Mando- and Cantopop stars, we think that the idea of a special fan ticket, and area for fans is a pretty interesting concept. The overall experience is augmented for all parties involved: fans get to see their favourite stars up close, the performers have the satisfaction of singing to their biggest supporters, and the promoters engender goodwill amongst their audience (and make some extra $$$. A regular presale ticket for the festival was 180 RMB and 250 RMB at the entrance).
Following yesterday’s International Day Against Homophobia, we bring to you two inspiring stories about Chinese and Hong Kong musicians and their campaigns in support of gay rights in China.
In a stadium concert at Hong Kong Coliseum in late April, pop star Anthony Wong (黄耀明) saved the night’s biggest revelation for last: he came out as gay in front of thousands of fans, saying “…I’m gay. I’m a homosexual. G-A-Y.” Though the region is known for many flamboyant pop culture figures of both sexes, Wong is only the second major Hong Kong performer to come out publicly and first to do so in such dramatic fashion. However, no word on whether Wong’s newly out status was addressed by him or others at the MMAX Music Festival in Beijing a week later (anyone who was there want to chime in?)
A week later in Shanghai, local band and pot-stirrers Top Floor Circus unveiled their own support for gay rights in an equally large-scale fashion at the conclusion of their headlining set on the first night of the Strawberry Festival in Shanghai. For their encore, the group performed a song by the late Hong Kong pop star Leslie Cheung, the first performer of his status to come out publicly, and who committed suicide nine years ago. Afterwards, the band gestured to the members of Nvai, a Shanghai lesbian group, who passed them a giant rainbow banner emblazoned with the phrase “同志爱音乐节” or “gays love music festivals.” Onstage, lead singer Lu Chen announced to the cheering audience “There is diversity in love. I hope you all love your real selves.”
Here at the Radar, we are always heartened to see and report of such displays of inclusion and togetherness in the industry we love so much. Not everything has to be tales of intellectual property malfeasance or brand campaigns gone horribly, horribly wrong. To everyone out there in China music land, no matter who (or what) you love, we support you!
We’ve been busy, really, really busy. Posting hasn’t been very frequent, or up to date: yes, we still have reviews of KAMA Love and MESH to post. We’re not sure if we will ever get back to the same level of posting as we have for the last few years, because there are so many other sites covering the same topics now. When we started in 2007, it was China Music Radar and that was about it in terms of China Music specific websites. Now there are the ever excellent Beijing Daze, Beijing Gig Guide, Shanghai 24/7, Kungfuology and lots of other bits and pieces around including the SmartShanghai Wire and of course the expat rags are picking up their game, particularly online.
We’re not going away though, and this fine Monday morning (the rain has finally stopped in Shanghai) here are a couple of things that are eating up the bandwidth:
Livenation are a big company. Publicly listed with offices all over the world, they are set to retest their mettle in China with the first really big name that they’ve been responsible for since the KK debacle in November 2008. The Eagles will be here in just over 2 weeks.
A small point that we hadn’t noted. Livenation have appointed a new face to their Hong Kong operation. We can’t tell exactly what, apart from 1840′s trading routes between Canton and Portugal, he will be in charge of, for his title is the quaintly outmoded “President, Far East”. C’mon Livenation – you are a global company now…
GBOB China happened at the back end of last year. We were going to write something broader about the unfortunate nature of being an unknown band in China (let’s face it, this isn’t a phenomenon limited just to China, but it is perhaps more extreme here due to a lack of an interested media in up-and-coming anything), prompted by this post over at Beijing Daze, particularly this paragraph:
Something doesn’t add up! With a band from Beijing winning the world Battle of the Bands, this event should have been packed. instead, only 3 bands entered this heat and the 9/11 heat at D-22 had to be cancelled because of low interest. weird.. weird… the next two legs are rumored to be full so here’s hoping for more of a show.
Anyway, the Amazing Insurance Salesman won Beijing, then headed down to HK and won that too. AIS is a mixed Western/ Chinese band and will be taking their chops to Malaysia for the Global Final in February. We wish them luck.
Hong Kong based music industry conference Music Matters is hitting us left right and centre with press releases about their upcoming event (May 26/27).
You can check out everything that’s happening at their website, but in summary, here are a few of the best bits and pieces:
Daniel Ek from Spotify: Spotify has been the most talked about development in the music industry these last 12 months, but there has been plenty of controversy about whether or not the streaming music service will actually be good for artists or not. Despite big plans, Spotify still hasn’t laid out clear timelines for both the US and more intriguingly, China.
Bill Silva, the legendary promoter and manager will be coming with his charge Jason Mraz, who will be engaging in a performance/ interview at the end of the last day of the conference
A new multi venue music festival, in conjunction with the Lan Kwai Fong bar strip of Hong Kong.
We were quite quick on the uptake, announcing Dylan had plans to tour the region HERE.
However, we seem to have missed the fallout. The Beijinger has done an excellent investigative job on the proposed tour, and you can read all about it HERE.
According to Sun MengJin, one of the foremost Western music champions here in China, Broker Bros were trying to mark up the Dylan shows by 60%. Dylan’s Western agent was looking for US$250k a show, BBH were trying to onsell the shows for US$400k a pop. According to the Beijinger’s translation of Mr. Sun
I mean, how money-driven can you be? Don’t they know about the international standard of maximum 15% for agent fees? 400,000 dollars for the 8,000 seated Shanghai Grand Stage, it’s impossible to make the money back by selling tickets. Those people are whistling ‘blowing in the wind’ while their black hearted money are also blowing with the shit out of their ass. FYI, there will be a day when Dylan is too old to sing.”
BBH have denied the claims and blamed the Shanghai Culture Bureau, who seem to get it in the neck every time there is a problem.