International Music Summit (IMS) Asia-Pacific is running a two-day conference at the Hyatt on the Bund Hotel right in the heart of cosmopolitan Shanghai. Held 21-22 Sept and followed by STORM Festival in the weekend.
The panel ‘Digital Storm’ discussed issues faced by industry professionals dealing with the ever-expanding global digital revolution and streaming in China, Asia and rest of the world. While licensing has been a huge topic for many rights holders in China, there are still many who have yet had their music licensed and how to profit from this potentially huge market. More companies are finding ways to remunerate the core of its creativity and one such company doing just that for China is Pyro. Spencer Tarring CEO of Pyro Music on how music consumption has changed over the years in terms of revenue generating commented: “A lot of people are getting music free and there aren’t many people paying. We started charging fix fee per month to download music because we want to reward labels and DJs.”
“DJs share their music all the time, so, my focus at Pyro is all about servicing DJs. While Spotify is making money and remunerating rights holders, Beatport is struggling because they don’t want to pay [artists]. We want to do the same thing in China,” he added.
While the demand for Chinese DJs continues to grow, there’s the realisation that DJs in China need to be ready for international gigs, especially when it comes to dealing with international labels. “It is important for Chinese DJs to be signed to an international label based in China. If one artist does that, many will follow and that will drive growth in China,” said Tarring.
The same questions go back to how artists from outside China could break into this vast land of opportunity and while it may be a no-brainer, the panels continued to agree on the point that foreign artists looking to gain some Chinese fans may need to consider collaborating with local artists.
Eric Reithler Barros CCO of A2LiVE and DianYinTai stressed that the unique Chinese market calls for unique strategies foreign to the Western world. “Illegal download is still a100% in China. You are talking streaming as a mode of consumption. The karaoke version of Chinese is the KTVs and stands for the second largest mode of consumption in China. If you are not plugged in the KTV establishment, you really need to zoom out and take a holistic view because China is indeed a unique market.”
In comparison to the market in the U.S, profit per individual is low but China is depending on its volume size to make its money back. As commented by Jessie Wang, International Business Director of NetEase Cloud Music. Streaming represents about 44.8% and 30% album downloads in China…the paying models is still streaming and paid subscription here. Although it takes time to make people pay for music. Subscription per individual is still low in comparison to the U.S but the potential is huge.
The discussion continues at IMS. The question boils down to what is the most effective way artists could succeed as there is just an unsurmountable promotional process to follow. From how artists can organically garner fans, deal with copyrights issue to licensing and distribution? I think the biggest lesson for us all outside of China is to continue to push on and follow suit.
China’s huge demand has created a whole ecosystem to find ways to remunerate as well as be part of the most exciting entertainment bandwagon in Asia. Conferences like IMS opens up with issues and solution is just the start of an impending journey into live music in the electronic music scene.