Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

A Svengali for China?

Apr 24

Written by:
4/24/2008 4:01 AM  RssIcon

Retired big-label executive Stuart Watson advises western musicians on cracking the China market

A talk with someone who’s seen it all: Stuart Watson was vice president for MCA/Universal before going fulltime on his consultancy, SWAT Enterprises to help record labels and artists break developing country markets like China. He has helped British indie bands and Spanish flamenco troupes get gigs in China. It says something about the potential of the local industry surely when the man who is credited with helping make Britney Spears a household name decamps to China.

In a recent interview Watson told me he sees similar problems between the market here and in Latin America, another region he’s beem trying to crack: in both territories Western acts and labels are so scared by rampant piracy and free downloading that they balk at tapping the “huge” market for live music. There’s another reason why very few music companies are sending artists to China: they don’t have the live rights.

Artists’ standard modus operandi of handing recording, publishing and management rights to different parties may work in mature markets like Europe and the US but not in China, says Watson. Artists should pool their rights in one manager to leverage the best out of cost-conscious but curious China. A manager like Stuart Watson, perhaps...?

See the full article in the May issue of China International Business magazine.

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