Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

Cafes As CD Distributors For China?

Sep 21

Written by:
9/21/2008 2:00 AM  RssIcon

There’s loads of potential for distribution deals between fast-expanding café chains and piracy-blighted local labels, surely?

On a trip through the Balkans and Eastern Europe lately I’ve been impressed by the café culture (and the coffee) – and in Sofia by a sweet little deal between Onda, a local café chain, and world music specialists PutoMayo. Onda’s store on Angel Kanchev, a busy downtown thoroughfare, is hung with the label’s attractive wall hangings and the in-house speakers of course rotate Puto Mayo records. Puto Mayo is a New York-based label which specializes in world music: best selling titles include Arabic Groove and Latin Lounge.

Café culture is more rooted in Bulgaria of course than it is in China but the Sculpting in Time chain in Beijing have done this kind of deal with Modern Sky records and it seemed to work really well: the label's CDs are displayed prominently near the till in Sculpting in Time stores. 

Starbucks raised eyebrows when it did a distribution deal with artists including Paul McCarthy. That deal in retrospect makes perfect sense. Coffee culture is taking off in China and since the country seems to love the chain-store approach to everything – hence the success of Starbucks, KFC et al for whom China is the number 1 growth market – it would seem logical to distribute CDs through chains like Blenz, Pacific Coffee, homegrown brand UBC, and Starbucks. So what's holding the deals back?

PutoMayo in Onda, a cafe in Sofia

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