What Radar is Reading – April / May 2016

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The fourth in a series of link-gathering expeditions to bring you quality content from around the web on Chinese music industry movements.

Lots of ground to cover this month, from the start of festival season to a new wave of music startups.

If you’ve noticed a story that’s of interest to China music industry watchers, let us know in the comments!

Strawberry / Midi / JZ Spring: Festival Season is Upon Us


Strawberry Festival, JZ Spring and MIDI have all passed by, with some brickbats (Strawberry’s main headliner was forced to cancel their Shanghai shows due to adverse weather) and bouquets (the Radar team particularly enjoyed JZ Spring’s vibe, and some of MIDI/Strawberry’s more adventurous bookings).

The first couple of Boiler Room shows also went ahead, reportedly breaking livestream viewership records despite some hiccups (The Beijing show suffered from some minor power outages and sound issues. In Shanghai, headliner Black Coffee couldn’t make but was replaced with Strawberry big booking Disclosure).

Speaking of dance music, EDM’s rise continues apace on the mainland, with Modernsky’s dance-a-thon MYTH due to hit Shanghai this weekend. The Strawberry bandwagon will roll on through more Chinese cities, and we’re likely to match last year’s dizzying heights.

Musical.ly, Lava Radio: Fresh Blood in China’s Music Startups?

There appears to be a sudden infusion of fresh ideas around music and music-centric experiences in China’s startup world. First, the news that Shanghai-based insta-music video app musical.ly was valued at near half a billion. Second, the rapidly growing popularity of ambient music playlist-generator Lava Radio. Third, a wave of playful apps like XiaoKaXiu that are integrating music into photo/video-sharing.

The Remarkable Rise of Shanghai Label SVBKVLT


A fascinating recent Bandwagon interview with SVBKVLT founder and Shelter proprietor Gaz Williams (a.k.a Howell), and their influence on the burgeoning scene within Shanghai specifically, and China broadly. SVBKVLT is host to some of the freshest talent going at the moment, and this interview gives some great insights into the label’s roots and direction. For further reading, skip to page 13 of this special issue of a Ballantine’s-branded zine.

Khalil Fong and Chinese Pop: Is Crowdfunding the Way Forward?


“The traditional framework of the [music] industry isn’t working any more…albums have become promotional tools instead of artworks that can sustain themselves”

That’s Hong Kong pop icon Khalil Fong. His bold idea to crowdfund a record label, an unprecedented direction for the region, would, he argues, grant artists complete control over their musical output. Only time will tell if the campaign will bear any fruit, but it’s interesting reading into some of the tensions and contradictions at the heart of Chinese music’s most lucrative tier.


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