The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Mark Godfrey'

03


The west courtyard of the Duan Qirui government on Zhang Zizhong road in historic Dongcheng district is an unlikely location for a Chinese rock club, but one to die for. Unlikely less so because it's an historic monument (as headquarters of the warlord who dominated China intermittently between 1916 and 1926) but bChinese rock clubs can't afford the rent. Yugongyishan however seems to be alone among local rock bars in its ability to make money.

Manager/owner Lue Zhiqiang played guitar in a  “really old” heavy metal band in the late 1980s but now the 37 year old is too embarassed to remember its name.  A period in Berlin was mind-opening for the Beijing native, “it widened my view.”Lue learned from Germans – he’s married to one - to be persistent as well as open-minded: when his first bar Lu Xiang café near Tsinghua University was closed by the onset of SARS in 2003 (his partner imigrated to Canada) Lue opened Yugongyishan in 2004 in a warehouse in the corner of a carpark. Sensing fate perhaps, the bar's logo, made famous in t-shirts sold to punters, was 'chai,' the Chinese character for demolition.

When the bar was levelled in 2007 (the site was developed as yet another Beijing mall) Lue moved over to Dongcheng. Upstairs Yue has preserved all the cool of Rui Fu, a failed lounge bar/club that previously occupied the space. The lounge, or “quiet space” intended as a VIP lounge and green room place for bands, has all the colours and fittings of a 1970s GDR nite club.

Lue also kept the chandeliers hung by Rui Fu. That was the club’s previous incarnation, run by perennial bar hand Henry Li. “He also a friend, the place wasn’t going so well –his shengyin (sound) wasn’t good – so I took it over. Li overreached, tarting up Rui Fu for a sophisticated VIP set which Beijing doesn't have. He charged too much for drinks, thinks Lue. “Guests were drinking champagne and smoking cigars. Our crowd pays RMB20 for a beer."

Yugongyishan is breaking even: “enough to pay the costs and pay my mortgage on my house,” says Lue. “I’ve put millions into the place and not sure if I’ll get it back.” The bar doesn’t depend on the door fee, which can rise to RMB200 for a visiting foreign act.

Compared to the ghetto cool of the old venue, the new Yugong Yishan is unabashedly retro. A ticket booth by the door, bathed in round light from large lanterns each side create the feel of a 1950s cinema. - that's probably why corporations hire it for parties and photo shoots. He's reluctant to discuss his accounts but by a series of gruff nods Lue agrees that the corporates' cash helps pay a 30-strong staff: 20 are full-time, another ten work on the company’s flyers and website. A three-man team, Pierre Blanc and Oh Yang and Lue seek and book musicians.

There have been great nights. Like when International Noise Conspiracy played – in the old venue. “We got them through a good old friend who’s a very good friend of the band’s leader.” Local hero Zhang Qu in 2005 brought out the old bar’s biggest ever crowd: “700 people on 300 square metres and 200 people at the door who couldn’t get in… He hadn’t played in 10 years and suddenly he came back.”

The biggest night in the new venue was a free-in Wednesday night rockathon of local bands headlined by punksters Brain Failure, which drew 1,200 to 1,400 people. Yann Tiersen drew the biggest crowd foreigner at the new venue, selling 450 tickets. The bumper attendance was down to a co-operation with Midi festival organizers, which has a solid following among local college students.

“The size of the crowd doesn’t depend on the band, it depends on the music they play. I can’t say which of them will bring me the biggest crowd.” In trend-beholden Asia that’s a brave commitment. But less about quantity: quality is king, says Lue. “This is not a rock club, this is a place,” says Lue flicking a zippo lighter open and closed constantly as he talks. “I’m not concerned with how many people come, I’m more concerned about the quality of the music. Stop drawing us into categories, I’d just as gladly play reggae or African music as I would rock.”

African music is scarce, and quality arbitrary, on Beijing's music scene. Yugongyishan’s postbox bulges every month with demos from hopeful local bands seeking gigs. Sometimes we get eight demos and they’re all decent. Sometimes seven of the eight will be awful.” And sometimes there’s no accounting for taste. Only 70 people turned up to hear Austria’s Black Business play. “I thought they were great, but there was no one within ten metres of the stage.”

Sourcing good talent from abroad is beyond Yugongyishan’s own budget –  “Sometimes there’s only enough [from door takings] for a taxi home for the band.” But cash from Beijing’s foreign embassies – Scandinavians in particular – allows Yugongyishan to bring European musicians – he cites the 30 musicians from Finland. Everyone pays a “certain amount,” but Yugongyishan’s share is a “shangye jimi,” a business secret, says Lue.

For so long on the run from the demolition ball, the name Lue chose for his bar says something about the man. Yugong Yishan name from an ancient Chinese myth. “Children study it, I did when I was a kid, it’s about the Yu Gong an old man living by the 2,000 metre high Yishan mountain in Shandong. It was right in front of his house, according to myth he had to go around it so the old guy decided to move the mountain bit by bit. Neighbours mocked Yugong, that he’s so old he’ll never see the day when it’s gone but he said his sons and grandsons would. The Chinese gods heard about it and decided they’d help him as they were touched by his persistence.”

And that’s the spirit of Yugong Yishan. “Persistence really brings you success. It doesn’t matter how big the challenge, you’ll do it little by little every day. It was hard to leave the Sanlitun bar with all its histories and stories. But although there were a lot of great memories it’s too small for me, I needed to move here.”

 


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03

There's two things I took away from Monday nigh's audience participation in TV show Xin Shi Ting, it's how massive the infrastructure China has for doing live TV, and how informal and accessible state TV can be, despite its deserved reputation for stiffness and censorship. A Chinese friend who got a couple of tickets for Xin Shi Ting, one of the country's favourite variety shows, screened by China Central Television from its vast complex near the Military Museum on the west side of Beijing.

It was a Monday night, six o'clock and the queue clustered in an ugly mess around the west gate of the complex. This was a special episode, to mark the 100 day count down to the opening of the Olympic Games in August. After we'd had our tickets checked by the soldiers at the gate there was time for a quick snack and a coffee in the first fllor diner. To say the place hasn't moved on from central planning would be to exaggerate. I pointed to my cake, a glum attendant sent me over to another glum attendant who then shouted over to glum attendant no.1 to see what I was buying. Two flimsy slips of paper from glum attendant no.2 in return for my money, got me my cake and a coffee from glum attendant no.1. Pure state-job-for-life mentality.

Well at least the canteen time got me up close with the judges of one of the several pop idol-style talent shows CCTV is now running. A commander in China's fire service and ethnic Tibetan pop singer Han Hong, who came trundling along in dark brown sunglasses, are among the dozen judges picking the winners.

Downstairs, the smell of shampoo permeates the air as girls in white and perms totter out of the cubicles.families sit around low tables strewn with lunch boxes, coke cans and cigarettes. As with most things in China it’s a very public affair as the girls fix themselves in front of a massive hall of massive hand basins and mirrors.

Nearby, we entered a corridor for studio 8 and went to take our place for Xin Shi Ting. The informality of it all is familiar to anyone who's been to the theatre in China. Noisy punters in jeans and short sleeves go to little effort in dressing for the occasion, trundle up the scaffolded steps to jostle for seats. “Shut up,”  shouts a hoarse producer dressed in the US style army gear and boots that appeal to so many Chinese men. “Sit down!” -Stop walking around! His voice is hoarser all the while but fails to dim the din of mobile phones and seats.

 

Performers in various shades of pink and gold take the stage, all against a backdrop of images on background screens of the Asia Games and an uncrecognisably ancient, green Beijing. The pop star with the white suit wanders around with a microphone and girls in hot pants and lads with grey leather jackets are pure laobaixing (working class) heroes. Anti-climax when they trundle off stage. Popstar Cai Guo Qing warbles before tables of VIPs sitting at yellow clothed VIP tables at the front with roses on. To add to the novelty factor a host from CCTV's economics channel sings a song.

A theme of sports star and singers began with Diver Guo Ming and Liu Wei. Wheelchair-bound former gymnast Sang Lan drew the loudest cheers for her several duets. Each performance was introduced by the Sonny Knowles of the evening, ageing comedian Hou Bao Ling. His shiny black-cherry dye job as visible as his wrinkles under the set lights Hou flirted with his skinny young co-hosts, and during off-stage breaks between his bright red tie.

To western eyes some of the costumes were as awful as the green-clean, free flowing Beijing flashing by on the screen was unrecogniseable to anyone who every day cycles its clogged and polluted streets. Worst dress kudos go to one singer's huge plastic silver waist band over a silver dress.

The clad-for-combat producer gets particularly exercised when a bald, fat audience member heads for the door during a performance. After a second take,  bawls out a serious of reprimands before telling the audience to look smarter -“Take off your overcoats” - and to clap more: "You should clap 500 times a day, it’s good for you."

 

 


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28

Here's a long email I got from a good Chinese journalist friend which is typical of the views I've been getting from local, Joe soap types these past few weeks of anti-western rage in China. The email is in response to a debate we had about why a friend of mine from China's restive Uyghur (or Wei) muslim community can't get a passport (the reason being Olympics 'stability and security,' he's told by officials). Many Tibetans I've met have a similar problem. So if the average Chinese is fine and dandy with the government here, what are we westerners expending so much time and effort demanding Beijing to give its people more human rights? Should we stick to seeking more rights for Tibetans and leave the rest of China to the government the average Chinese appears so content with?

"First of all, I am not a politician. I talk to you because we are friends and I am a Chinese. I hope I can help you know Chinese people more and give us more understanding.

I feel sorry about John if something really unfair happened on him as a Wei minority person recently. You think that's discrimination. I also believe Chinese government can do this kind of things because recent days Xinjiang region and Tibet region are not stable so government has to take some actions.
I also believe Chinese government and even Chinese people are not open enough when we have problems because we are afraid of losing face. Face matters a lot in China and it could date back several thousand years ago.

But can I say something else to help you know more? Ok, if you think it's discrimination for John, then I'd like you to tell if these are discrimination for Han people. I believe China central government support those minorities with many preferred policies, financially and spiritually. I don't know too many details but I definitely know minority people can have many kids if they want. They can go to universities with less points than Han people. Wei people and Tibet people can have their knives with them when they go out but Han people can't. Do you think it's very fair for Han people? Have you ever heard that Han people protested against these before? We only heard too much violence in Xinjiang and Tibet and those gang destroyed public facilities and killed normal people. Do you think those people will become kind after they get independent? Do you think they are not terrorists?

Think how the US reacted after 9.11? They thought everyone from Middle East was a terrorist and they took tighter action to foreign people who were in the US and wanted to enter into the US. Why you don't understand Chinese government is doing something to Wei and Tibet people? People always take what they have for granted and complain for wha they are short . It is unfair to John but don't think it is discrimination and ignite Chinese people's hate. Unfair things are always there and it takes time to get over. Wei people has more privileges than Han people, please think of this as well.
 

Western countries always mention human rights, but I think they just emphasize more on individual rights and don't take it as a whole. I would like to take my family as an example and I hope you will get something. My family is a very traditional Chinese family. They didn't have stable income since they were only normal farmers in the beginning.  Just because China reform and open policy, my dad could have chance to go out and make money. Considering there are four children in my family, I think my parents really did a good job to have our four children get educated. My mom once said, "I think you dad is really great. Considering we are only Noon Min family, but he could support four kids to go to university". And my dad said, "our family is here because you mom managers our family well". They appreciate each other very much even they don't say "Xie Xie, Dui Bu Qi" at all. I learned to say them till I went to university. So if you ever go to my hometown and people don't say "Xiexie and Dui bu qi" to you, don't think they are rude. They just don't get used to.

Now let me think back, I think my mom even pays much more hard-work to our family. My dad has been busy making money and my mom looks after the whole family. She is very generous to give out and she has very good relationship with the neighbors and relatives. Chinese marriage is not only something about one man and one woman but a relationship between two families. My parents take each other's family as their own family. They take responsibilities for both when they need them. My dad gives every coin he earns to my mom and my mom takes good care of them. My dad seldom spends money himself and he just leaves most family things to my mom to deal with. Only when there are some big things that need my dad to decide, then my mom will let my dad do. Otherwise my mom will arrange everything. Their great mutual trust makes me admire very much.

Their four kids - my older sister, older brother me and my younger sister all have a decent job compare to other our fellows. My parents feel happy because they think we will have pension at least when we get old. My mom feels sorry for my dad because my dad even couldn't get pension even he has been working till now. He couldn't get it because of his farmer's identity.

But my parents never complain. Their attitude towards life, towards our education is very influential to us. I never look down on myself for my farmer's family. I never complain that I have too little to share to others. I seldom make time to complain life if something bad happened on me. I don't have time to do it. Even I was put a waitress position in my first job because other people thought it should be good enough for a graduated girl who grew up in the countryside to work in a city, even I was rejected by Canadian embassy because they thought I was not well-established and I wouldn't go back to China, unfair things are everywhere that not just happened on me. I only made effort to improve myself. I got recognized and promoted after my hardworking during my first job. I am sure I will go abroad after I make me strong enough. I don't have time to complain.

People, who think other people look down on them, must look down on themselves first. They should raise their awareness of improving their own first. China, as a big family, is trying to make every nationality in the right place. Our government is making big efforts to improve. We never look down on Tibet people or Wei people because they are Chinese too. Even we have problems, that's our domestic problems and China has ability to get through completely.

Some countries ignore Chinese history and Chinese culture and offer a hand saying they will help those people who get discriminated in their countries. If all in all could say there is discrimination, my parents have right to say it too. But they never say it instead, they think their life is getting better and better and they can't complain. My mom is happy to act a supporting role and she thinks man is a main power in a family. Many people think I am independent woman but if I have to give up something to complete my man, I will do it.

I have attended a discussion that a lady who came from Harford university, thinks it's ridiculous that Chinese prefer boys than girls. She thinks women should have more voices in political field. I just think she is ridiculous too. If she ever lives a rural area in China, if she knows to harvest the crop is a team work, then she might know why especially in rural China, boys are more important than girls because they need more labors. And girls often are a member of their parents-in-law. It's Chinese tradition.

Chinese people do have a lot of bad habits. To spit in public is indeed disgusting. I think this habit there is just because those farmers work in the fields and they don't find a right place to spit. It happens in big cities because most people in big cities are from countryside too.

Westerners should learn more about Chinese. We are trying to improve and we often pick on our own problems too but don't expect we'll ignore our Chinese identity.It's good if you help people to have different voices. But I would suggest you release something unfair in China later on but not in this sensitive time."


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26

Thanks to John "Nevada" Lundemo for filling me in on the latest kunming outdoor music festival, held on April 18,19. John heads up a multinational blues rock band called the Tribal Moons, which plays gigs around China's southwestern capital of Kunming. Some 20 bands played the second installment of the Kunming Outdoor Music Festival took place over the weekend in Taiping Town outside of Kunming - 600 people and a wider variety of music than at the previous edition: Gouride, Tribal Moons and Heiyu. "We rocked the crowd," says Lundemo. "But there were too many "death metal bands" for my taste, so we were, as usual, a "welcome relief".

Maybe he was referring to No Answer, whose Chinese name means 'beat me to death and I still won't talk', are fronted by self styled punk-slut styled Bai Cai. Go Kunming reported that rock/reggae hybrid Made in Dali proved the consensus favorite among fans.
An excellent English-language blog to the region, Go Kunming reported that there was a sizeable military presence at the festival, "with dozens of (officially) off-duty soldiers checking out the variety of musical offerings under a nearly full moon." On Saturday night two personnel carriers entered the festival site with sirens blaring - the soldiers aboard however, seemed only interested in taking in a set by Rap Republic.

The Tribal Moonsband may be lucky that its base is Yunnan province, a balmy, hippy-friendly region bordering Laos and Burma. Certainly it's all gigs for the band, which headlines an all night festival party in the picturesque old town of Dali on on May 1st. "We also have a "fly out' (we're flying to another city) on may 8th for a big "private party". paying us a ton of money, but we're not sure what the exact deal is yet. It sounds exciting..."


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26

Here's what security looks like at the annual Beijing Pop Festival. Thanks to Judith Govey at Uk-based Association for Independent Music (AIM) who sent it to me. AIM-represented group The Crimea played the festival in 2007. Beijing Pop Festival organisers have privately moaned about trying to get security - required by the local government agency which grants the festival's license - into something less formal than their paramilitary unforms. No luck, lets see what they manage for this year's fest, set for September.


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24


Richard Wageman, a lawyer at the Beijing offices of DLA Piper sent me an interesting appraisal of a new Chinese government policy initiative. Foreign investors will be allowed to invest directly in live performing arts projects in China for the first time. That’s according to Certain Comments on the Establishment of a Rational Supply System for the Performance Market and the Promotion of the Prosperous Development of the Performance Market, a torturously titled document released by nine Chinese ministries and commissions, including the policy-setting National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Culture.

Before the Comments were issued on January 30, the Administrative Regulations on Commercial Performance (in effect since 1997) had permitted foreign investment for renovation and construction of commercial performing arts theatres and other performance venues, but prohibited participation by foreign investors in operations and management. This is good news for China’s non-state performing arts troupes, perennially starved of funds. Entertainment in China trends towards massive outdoor pop concerts, performances by state-funded troupes in large government-owned halls (like the new National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing)

With even state-run troupes often complaining of lack of funds, the new bent in policy will allow private cash and stakes in these often underused venues. Some of the thinking may be to put on more traditional Chinese forms of entertainment for tourists – Peking opera is after all a dying art form. Coming from such a wide swathe of government authorities suggests the policy will be expedited and foreign investment approved fast.


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24

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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09

Here's a press release from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The organisation's Asia chief Mayseey Leong put off an interview with Cluas scheduled for last week till this landmark court case was announced. The court action, she told me today, is "a last resort" attempt by the organisation to fight Internet portal Baidu, one of China's most successful corporations, which it claims has been getting fat off stolen music.

"A Chinese court has agreed to hear damages claims totalling US$9 million against the country’s dominant internet company Baidu from three record companies. The claim is the tip of the iceberg in a copyright infringement test-case that could expose the Chinese internet giant to a multi-billion dollar liability.

Baidu’s music delivery services, which are quite separate from its general search engine, “deep link” users directly to hundreds of thousands of copyright infringing music tracks. They generate substantial advertising revenue for Baidu while causing massive damage to the music industry. In April 2007 a precedent-setting ruling found Yahoo China guilty of facilitating mass copyright infringement for operating a music delivery service very similar to Baidu’s. That ruling was confirmed in December 2007 by the Beijing Higher People’s Court, the final appeals court.

The record companies’ infringement claims against Baidu are based on 127 of their own music tracks, which are just a small representative sample of the wider infringement. They seek the maximum statutory compensation under Chinese law of RMB 500,000 (US$71,000) per track. This creates total claims of RMB 63,500,000 (US$9m) but the ultimate exposure could be much greater. Baidu participates in the infringement of more than a quarter of a million tracks, which could leave the internet company faced with multi-billion dollar damages claims when further action is taken to secure maximum statutory damages on all these tracks.

China’s internet companies have so far spurned the chance to partner with the recording industry and instead are facilitating mass-scale piracy on their networks. China has great potential as a legitimate digital music market, with more broadband connections than the US and a huge music-buying demographic. However, over 99 per cent of all music online in China infringes copyright, frustrating efforts to develop a legitimate music market.

The bulk of this online music piracy is accounted for by services that are run by hugely profitable companies such as Baidu. In February, the internet search engine announced fourth quarter 2007 profits of RMB 219.8 million (US$30.6m), an increase of 79 per cent over the same quarter in 2006.

The three record companies, Universal Music Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment Hong Kong Ltd and Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd, have filed their claims with the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court asking the court to order Baidu to remove all links to copyright infringing tracks to which they hold the rights.

Four record companies have also announced they will be bringing legal action against Sogou, the Chinese music delivery service operated by Sohu Inc, which also participates in mass copyright infringement. Sohu is the official sponsor of internet content service for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The companies bringing the action are Sony BMG Music Entertainment Hong Kong Ltd, Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd, Gold Label Entertainment Ltd and Universal Music Ltd. They are claiming maximum statutory damages of RMB 500,000 for 105 tracks, bringing the total claim to US$7.5 million. These claims will also be heard by the Beijing court.

John Kennedy, Chairman and Chief Executive of IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, says: “Baidu is China’s largest violator of music copyrights, generating huge revenue by deliberately providing access to illegal content. The scale of what it is doing can be summed up by the fact that if the courts were to rule that Baidu should pay maximum statutory damages for all the infringing tracks available through its service it would have to pay many billions of dollars in compensation. That would be an enormous but appropriate price to pay for a company that is failing to take what are quite simple steps to respect the rights of artists and record companies and protect the content of IFPI’s members.

“The record industry wants partnership with China’s internet companies, but one that is based on respect of copyright and the law. It is totally wrong that internet giants like Baidu should build a fortune by abusing the rights of artists, songwriters and record producers.”


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09

Famously gabby, British music executives were lost for words at last year's Beijing Pop Festival. The A&R folks were watching a gig by The Crimea, members of an Association of Independent Music (AIM) trade mission of British independent musicians and labels. "When they took the stage the local fans were singing the words to their songs," recalls AIM international affairs chief Judith Govey. "It was a testament to the hard work the band has done."

The Crimea's rousing reception on that hot September Saturday - they shared a bill with Brett Anderson and Nine Inch Nails - was thanks to the band putting free-to-download songs on its website, and earlier playing China's cramped rock bars on 2006 and 2007 tours here. The band hasn't made much money yet in China but the festival turnout bodes well for independent music in China, bets Govey. "We were taken aback by the size of the festival," she says. "The audience reaction was very refreshing."

Since 2003 AIM has brought 50 music industry specialists in trade missions of typically 10 companies to China where they meet Chinese label and live venue management in seminars. Conferences are funded by the UK Trade & Investment, while delegates pay their own travel and accommodation.  A September 2008 trade fair will include intellectual property rights (IPR) lawyers and event management companies as well as labels. One of the members of last year's delegation, British rock music maven Julia Jones will drive her iconic Brit Bus, a vehicle loaded with stereos and British musicians, accross China in 2008 or 2009.

Others to have gotten something off their attendace on the trade mission include London-based Taste Management, which signed Shanghai-based the Honeys for European shows. British artist management agency Big Help last year inked a deal with Beijing-based KKP for its classically trained singer/songwriter Marie Batchelder. Electronic-heavy British act Cava Cava got a top slot at last year’s Midi Festival and gigs at venues around China off its attendance on the 2006 mission.

The traffic is moving both ways. A caravan of 30 Chinese companies will travel to this year’s London Calling, an annual music industry trade expo. Collaboration is the way to get things done in China, says Govey, who points to her organisation's team-up with the state-sponsored China Audio Visual Association (CAVA) – leading the Chinese delegation to London Calling - as a door opener to the Chinese market. British production agencies Arc Angel and Big Help both working with Chinese and British artists in China. “A lot of Chinese companies seek trades: they’ll say if you license my artists I’ll license your’s.”

Foreign labels need a lot of help from the likes of CAVA to pierce a "very complex market," says Govey. "Our members say that if we had to things on our own it would take three years.” Faced with "extreme levels of piracy," distribution deals are best kept to digital format. The potential is greatest in selling downloads to mobile phones. "Physical product is not the way to go,” says Govey. Foreign CDs are "far too expensive" for China, she adds, pointing to a low-price Linkin Park CD produced for mainland China only. “It sold significantly better than other releases.”

China is part catching up effort for British labels whose music is often available free to download on Chinese websites. "China was years ahead of the UK on downloads," explains Govey. Though Govey declines details on specific deals, most partnerships forged off AIM trade missions will, she says, will be in digital and live performances. Either way China is an "extremely long term plan... There’s no fast money to be made." But China-bound Western music companies investing the time and money to build relationships will eventually reap the rewards, she predicts, "maybe five years down the road."

China differs from Western and Japanese markets for its "extreme levels" of piracy and a dominance of local artists compared to international names. Convinced of a Chinese cultural imperative of "face-to-face meetings," Martin Mills of the Beggars Banquet group says: "it’s very important to come out every year." He's been on every AIM mission to China since 2003.

British labels typically see the USA and Japan as their top markets but ignore China and India at their peril. "We’re telling them to see it as a long term investment," says Govey. A lack of funding has cut short AIM trade missions to India, which shares a lot of China’s challenges: “piracy is not as high but still very high.” Unlike China, the film industry dominates India’s music industry, with artists signing up for albums on a per-film basis without royalties. AIM however is working with a new wave of entrepreneurs “who are breaking the stranglehold of film houses by setting up artist development companies.”

 

 

 

 


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27

The reportage of China's CD piracy is as prevalent as the shops selling counterfeit CDs and DVDs in Chinese cities. Yet there are some signs that the music industry is shifting upstream here as multinational record firms outsource the production of CDs to China. Proof is Discturkey Solution, a company in southerly Guandong province producing CD and DVD discs. "Foreign record companies, individual musicians and music shops have all become our clients," says Tui Lee, Sales Representative at the company, which sells 75% of its output to UK, US, Australiasia.

Discturnkey can produce and package a shelf-ready CD for one Yuan (about EUR0.10)  - while a DVD costs 1.5 to 2 yuan. "Usually music companies provide the copyright and music to us and we will produce according their clients' requirements. We have done a lot of work for UK companies doing compilations of 1960s and 70s English music like the Beatles," Tui told Beijing Beat.

Foreign customers are assured, says Tui, by Discturnkey being one of only two Chinese firms which have joined the Content Delivery and Storage Association (CDSA) in the US (the other firm is Sony BMG in Shanghai). "Being a member demonstates that the company should never produce audio-video products for piracy makers," says Tui.
 

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Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).