Archive for April, 2011

Interview w/ Archie Hamilton

April 27, 2011

Archie Hamilton, MD of Split Works and Splatter, took time out of his busy mid-JUE schedule to talk to S24/7 about how the festival is going, some of the cool events that might just go under the radar and what he has up his sleeve in the months ahead.

Full Interview here

Development, yes !

April 21, 2011

Midi Festivals

April 20, 2011

This article was originally posted on MusicDish.com

China’s No.1 outdoor rock festival is expanding this year to four cities in China starting this April 30th

By Lin Xu

The 2011 Midi Festival will start in Beijing, the capital city that has witnessed the birth and twelve years growth of this festival, from April 30th to May 2nd. The festival will be held in Jing Langdao Park in the Mentougou district in west suburbs of Beijing. The performance list for Beijing Midi this year has created a new record, including hundreds of well-known rock bands from both China and abroad.

The legendary American hard rock band Mr. Big will make its first debut in China. Emerged in the late 80s, Mr. Big held its unique style among the hard rock bands. They not only excelled in various extremely technical fast-beat songs, but also whined with their melodic adagios. Their singles ‘To Be With You’ and ‘Wild World’ have become the must-listen introductory songs for Chinese rock ‘n’ roll youth. Mr. Big is sure to arouse nostalgic choruses with their performance in Beijing Midi on May 1st and Shanghai Midi on May 6th.

The ten-year-old punk band Mongol 800 is one of the best rock bands in Japan. They have inspired young people to love life and go after their dreams with their rebellious attitude. Apart from participating in Beijing and Shanghai Midi Festival this year, Mongol 800 will also be performing live with local Chinese bands at both Beijing and Shanghai’s MAO Livehouses. Meanwhile, they are donating part of their ticket sales to Japanese Red Cross to help with the earthquake and tsunami relief.

Miserable Faith is often referred to as a milestone in today’s modern rock scene in China. On their first debut this year on April 2nd, the band has broken the box record of rock performances in Beijing Live House with their high-quality live shows. Thus far, Miserable Faith has already played the north-western portion of their China tour, including performances in cities like Hohhot, Baotou, Yinchuan, Urumqi, Xining, Lanzhou, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and Anyang. Attesting to their massive appeal, Miserable Faith will be giving the closing performance at both Midi Festivals.

The Montreal-based rock band Your Favorite Enemies has recently played at Canadian Music Week Festival in Toronto where the band member and manager Jeff Beaulieu met up with MusicDish CEO Eric de Fontenay. This “DIY” band has managed every single aspect of its career based on their community values as they rose from their non-traditional music model since their founding in 2006. They are touring thirteen cities in China, appearing at both in Beijing (May 2nd ) and Shanghai (May 8th ) Midi festivals. Joining them will be over ten rock bands from Canada, Netherlands, German, Switzerland, Spain, Australia and Singapore.

Other participating domestic bands include established Beijing rock characters such as Liu Donghong & Sand, Nanwu, SMZB, Yaksa, Voodoo Kungfu, AK47, Brainfailure and Reflector. Some new bands are also showing. The Dancer for example is a new band founded in 2010 with familiar faces from some the biggest names in Beijing rock, including Liu Hao (Joyside), Dong Xuan (Hedgehog) and Wang Xin (Casino Demon). It should be one of the big hits among the new figures.

The festival series takes its second stop in Shanghai, the bustling metropolitan. The Shanghai Midi committee has strived to achieve their goal to “Rock Shanghai”, and they are about to make it. The festival will be held from May 6th to May 8th in the Pudong Century Park in Shanghai. The Shanghai Midi will stick to the never-give-in spirit of the festival and bring a feast of performances. The Beijing band Free the Bird, formerly known as Ziyo will also join Midi in Shanghai. Other Beijing Midi performing bands that will continue to rock on in Shanghai include TOOKOO, Yaksa and Reflector. In addition, some local bands representing the hardcore force of Shanghai’s rock will be making their presence felt, including Top Floor Circus, Crystal Butterfly, Cold Fairyland, Mushroom Group and MusicDish*China favorite Boys Climbing Ropes. The Shanghai festival will also feature an electric dance stage, which is sponsored by the Shanghai-based well-known electronic party label ANTIDOTE, and will its strong line-up of DJs and high-quality music.

In summer 2011, during August 4th to August 7th, the Ocean Midi Festival will be held in the Olympics Water Park in Rizhao, Shan Dong province. Rizhao, with its longest and widest beach in northern China and low pollution levels, is know as the “garden city” in China and has been rewarded the United Nations Habitat award. Apart from the rock ‘n’ roll stage, Rizhao Midi will also hold the largest ocean electronic party in China! Fans around China and worldwide will party throughout night and embrace the rising sun over the sea together.

The final stop of Midi is the Yangtze Midi Festival being held for the second time from October 1-4 during China’s National Day on the Yangtze Shiyezhou Island in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. Shiyezhou Island has witnessed the success of Midi last year, and will no doubt become one of the most influential spot where China’s youth culture mixes with rock, as the muddy ground has become an unforgettable experience of Midi fans.

The year-round 2011 Midi Festival is run under the theme with “Love the Bears!”. Midi will hold series of live activities in corporation with animal protecting organizations, and together with fans to protest against the abuse of bear bile.

Consumers in China flock to buy Apple’s iPhones and iPads

April 14, 2011

Article taken from mercurynews.com

By John Boudreau

SHANGHAI — While many Western retail giants have failed to import their American success to this booming economy, Apple (AAPL) is winning simply by being Apple.

Not far from the massive glass cylinder and spiral staircase that lead to Apple’s always crowded underground store in the heart of Shanghai’s gleaming financial center of high-rises and high-end stores is a shuttered Best Buy. Home Depot has retreated as well, closing a number of outlets as its successful American strategy sputtered in this emerging economic giant. Mattel recently abandoned its flagship Barbie store in this metropolis of 19 million people.

Apple is bucking that trend.

The Cupertino-based company, which plans to have 25 retail stores open in China in coming months, has imported its retail philosophy to four stores in China so far — two in Beijing, two in Shanghai — and has created an instant following among consumers who can be as fussy and demanding as any in the world.

Its first China store, a split-level space located in a pricey shopping and nightclub area of Beijing called Sanlitun, is packed like a hot nightclub itself most evenings. The new 16,000-square-foot Shanghai outlet — located in the shadow of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower — has the minimalist aura of an art gallery where customers carefully examine iPhones, iPads and MacBooks as if they were Van Goghs.

The Apple experience

As in the United States, Apple in China has a certain corporate celebrity status — though on this side of the Pacific, the affection comes with a particular Chinese intensity. Shoppers pose for pictures in front of Apple’s products and logo. Last fall, the launch of the iPhone 4 created such a frenzy that fighting broke out at the Sanlitun store, which was temporarily shut down before reopening with a squad of security guards posted throughout the outlet.

The iPhone 4 is still in short supply while Apple’s iPad 2, which has yet to officially go on sale in China, is selling for at least $1,000 on the black market, hundreds more than its retail price.

Some Apple products are more expensive in China than in the United States. For instance, the 13-inch MacBook Air with 128GB of flash storage sells for about $1,604 in China, about $180 more than it does in the United States, including tax. But prices of the first version of the iPad, still being sold in Apple’s China retail stores, are about $100 less.

Apple’s stores — and the personal attention employees in T-shirts shower on customers at the Genius Bar and during one-on-one tutorials — are well-known in the United States, but there has never been such a retail experience in China, observed James Roy with the China Market Research Group.

“It’s very awe-inspiring,” said Shi Yong, 30, who visited Apple’s store in Shanghai’s Pudong area two consecutive days last week. “Visually, it’s very stimulating.”

The experience could not be more different from typical electronics malls in China, where products are hawked by barker-like vendors jammed in cubicle retail spaces along narrow aisles.

“Chinese people like to try things before buying them,” said Zi Wang, a 26-year-old postgraduate student in environmental studies who was also visiting the Shanghai outlet. “It’s a very sophisticated way to introduce your products.”

While Apple currently captures only a sliver of China’s consumers, the country’s 300 million-member middle class includes many upwardly mobile consumers with money to burn.

“Apple’s moment is here,” said retail analyst Paul French of the Shanghai-based firm Access Asia. “There is now enough of an urban middle class with enough money to afford Apple products. Five years ago — or even two or three years ago — there weren’t enough of those people.”

Increasingly, Apple is looking to image-conscious Asia for new growth. During the company’s most recently completed quarter, “greater China” — which includes mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan — garnered Apple $2.6 billion in revenue, up four times from the same period a year ago. While it still represented only a slice of the company’s quarterly sales of $26.74 billion, Apple Chief Operating officer Tim Cook called the growth “phenomenal” during a conference call with analysts.

“We, several years ago, identified China as our top priority and we put enormous energy into China,” he said. “The results of that have been absolutely staggering.”

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who regularly visits Asia, believes mainland China alone — excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan — will represent 10 percent of Apple’s revenue within five years, up from about 2 percent now.

China-specific strategy

Munster, though, said Apple will have to devise a China-specific strategy for the country’s economically tiered citizens by rolling out lower-end iPhones, much like it has done with its iPods, to tap into those lacking the buying power of flashy entrepreneurs and newly wealthy professionals. iPhone 4s that don’t come with multiyear carrier contracts and subsidies cost at least $600 each.

“That is prohibitively high for most people,” he said. “The iPhone is going to be huge in China. That’s a given. But if Apple wants it to flow out across China, it has to come up with lower price points.”

For now, Apple has shown it can do what many other American retailers can’t — succeed in China, analysts say.

Best Buy, for instance, tried to compete with two very strong local competitors, Gome and Suning, which offered similar products at lower prices, Roy said, adding, “They could not make money off software or video games like it can in the U.S. because the vast majority of consumers in China buy pirated versions.”

While many Chinese buy cheap knockoffs of Apple products, plenty of others are more than willing to pay top price for originals — and the reliability and status that comes with them.

At the Pudong outlet — a spacious store awash in natural light that French calls “the Temple of Apple” — product adoration crossed a number of age groups one recent afternoon, from teens sipping milk tea to professionals getting assistance on Macintosh software. Young couples cuddled over iPads as music, from hip-hop beats to the Beatles, filled the air.

“They’ve got great products and they are doing this at a time when Chinese consumers are feeling bullish and have some money,” French said.

Baidu announcement misleading?

April 13, 2011

The whole industry was buzzing with the announcement that Baidu will open a legitimate music service in May called Ting. Ad based, the revolutionary sounding of the news was that Baidu finally has relented to the pressure and is going to pay at least songwriters through a deal with MCSC (the Mechanical Copyright Society of China).

Thrilled, good for China, good for us, good for the business!!

One might think.

But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? The whole thing will not make much sense.

First: Baidu relented to the judgement in a lawsuit brought onto them by MCSC. The court ordered Baidu to pay the songwriters/publishers that MCSC is representing. Which is a good portion of the worldwide music publishing market, but not all of them and some major publishers are missing from the deal.

Second: The service will be offered alongside the illegal search activity that makes Baidu the biggest enabler of music piracy in the World. Baidu reckons it will migrate 50% of search around music to the new platform. And that activity will lead to substantial traffic that in turn sponsors a lot of advertisement. The money generated from that will be paid in part to the songwriters.

Those models don’t fare well for the people who create the music. Spotify, Google Music etc are concentrating a lot of listeners, but the pay out to the people that matter, the artists, is abysmally small. Not a good thing in the long run.

And certainly not what is needed in terms of turning China into the lucrative opportunity that it can be.

This is not only clear to most Western businesses, but it begins to dawn on the Chinese Music Industry as well. They initiated the following letter that has been published in the Financial Times in March 2011:

Dear Sirs,

Censorship is not the only issue surrounding China’s internet strategy (Leader article, March 23). The continued widespread abuse of the intellectual property of Chinese and international rights owners is a dark cloud hanging over the country’s e-commerce miracle. Our organizations represent the legitimate music sector in China and internationally, comprising thousands of record labels and music publishers.  Our members want to partner with and invest in China’s digital revolution, but they cannot do so while the music service run by the dominant internet company, Baidu, facilitates infringement of the rights of artists and creators online.
The legitimate Chinese music market is a huge investment opportunity that is waiting to happen.  This is a country with twice as many internet users as the US, but where legitimate music consumption is miniscule, with digital revenues per user at less than 1% of the US equivalent.

Baidu is the biggest source of this problem, with its MP3 music search service estimated to be responsible for over 50% of infringing music distribution in China.  It has the means to bring immediate change by proactively filtering infringing works from this service. As one of China’s most successful companies with a growing profile internationally, Baidu will face increasing pressure on this issue in the coming months. This was demonstrated last month when the US Government highlighted Baidu in its list of “notorious markets”. The protests have been echoed in recent weeks by a coalition of Chinese authors and by Japanese book publishers.
Our members welcome the commitment of the Chinese government to improve enforcement of intellectual property rights.  It is now time for corporate role models like Baidu to lead this initiative from the front.

Yours sincerely

Frances Moore, CEO, IFPI

Bill Zang, Chairman, China Music Industry Committee (CMIC)

Alison Wenham, President, World Independent Network (WIN)

Ger Hatton, Secretary General, International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP)

We support this initiative wholeheartedly. Bill Zang is our friend and business partner. He understands perfectly well that only if copyright can be turned into money, the artist will benefit and the people will benefit from the artist in return!

Facebook to launch in China as it cuts deal with Baidu

April 11, 2011

Facebook is reported to be planning to launch a standalone Chinese service, its second attempt, in a partnership with China’s biggest search engine Baidu.

Read more about it HERE.

Baidu to launch licensed music service in May

April 7, 2011

Baidu Inc, China’s top search engine, will launch a licensed music search service in May, in a move to legitimize its current music search that critics say enables music piracy.

Baidu will launch Baidu Ting sometime in May, said Kaiser Kuo, a Baidu spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday. The service will allow users to stream, download, create libraries of licenced music and will have a social-networking aspect.

Music piracy in China has cost record labels hundreds of millions in profits. Most of the music available through Baidu’s current Mp3 search service is copyright infringing.

“Our members want to partner with and invest in China’s digital revolution, but they cannot do so while the music service run by the dominant Internet company, Baidu, facilitates infringement of the rights of artists and creators online,” said International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a body representing record companies globally, in a letter to the Financial Times last month.

Baidu is the dominant search provider in China with more than 70 percent of the market by revenue.

Last week, Baidu said it reached an agreement with the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) to pay fees to MCSC for every song downloaded using Baidu Ting. The licenced music service will be supported by advertising.

The agreement covers publishing rights and Baidu will compensates lyricists and composers through MCSC. The firm is still working toward a more comprehensive agreement that will cover performance rights as well.

Baidu is also in talks with major international record companies such as Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group for a similar agreement.

Baidu already has an agreement with EMI Group through the current agreement with MCSC, Kuo said.

“We hope for an outcome in the near future,” Kuo said.

Baidu has been involved in court skirmishes with international record labels over its Mp3 search service that allows users to search for and download copyright infringing music.

In January last year, a Beijing court cleared Baidu of copyright suits and said the search engine did not break any laws.

Earlier in the year, the United States Trade Representative office spotlighted Baidu as a notorious market for piracy.

Baidu also recently removed hundreds of thousands of infringing material from its Baidu Library product after a group of Chinese authors accused the search engine of not respecting copyright laws.

Google Inc launched a legitimate music search service in China in 2008 but after a quarrel with Beijing last year over censorship and hacking, Google moved its music search to its Hong Kong website.

 

China’s Baidu to Compensate Songwriters for Music Downloads

April 6, 2011

By Michael KanIDG News Apr 1, 2011 1:30 pm at PCWorld.com

China’s largest search engine Baidu said it will start paying an agency representing songwriters for every music download on the site, after years of being criticized for providing links to pirated music downloads.

On Friday, Baidu announced that it had made an agreement with the Music Copyright Society of China to establish a partnership to protect legal digital music, and will pay copyright holders to use their music. This will encompass any song that is downloaded from Baidu’s music search site, said company spokesman Kaiser Kuo.

The payment will go to the Music Copyright Society of China. However, the money is only meant to compensate the songwriters behind the lyrics to the music, and not any major record labels as that would have to be made under a different agreement, Kuo said.

“We will also provide the [Music Copyright Society of China] playback and download data, so that they will be able to have some idea of what’s actually being downloaded,” Kuo said. Baidu also plans to establish a licensed content page on its music search site.

For years, Baidu has been accused of promoting piracy through its MP3 search service. Music groups have complained and said the service offers users “deep links” to free pirated music on third-party hosted sites. The Chinese search giant has faced lawsuits as a result, and even been named a “notorious market” by recent a U.S. government report.

Some experts say Baidu’s MP3 search was a major factor behind the company’s rise in China, becoming one of its most popular services. Baidu now has a 75.5 percent share of the country’s search market, with Google a distant second, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

The Music Copyright Society of China has spent years trying to push Baidu to protect copyright holders, even taking legal action against the company, said Liu Ping, the vice general secretary for the group. But late last year, Baidu and the society began working an agreement to protect copyright holders.

“The changes Baidu is making could create a really wide-reaching music platform through the Internet that will lead to profits for those in the music industry,” Liu said. “This has never happened before in China.”

Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting, said of the new partnership, “It would certainly be good for the music industry and it would be beneficial for Baidu’s reputation.”

It’s not yet clear how this will affect users, and if all the music downloads on the site will continue to be free. Local Chinese media reports have said Baidu will offer free and paid downloads in the near future.

Baidu could choose to shoulder the costs and make all the downloads free, in order to maintain the traffic volume on its MP3 search site, Natkin said. “The site is a very valuable for Baidu as an entry point. People will come there to search for music, and then use Baidu for Web search,” he said. “It’s an entry point to other Baidu properties that are monetized very well.”

Bright Prospects: Chinas Digital Music Market Increasing

April 5, 2011
Comparing these two articles, one from the end of 2009 and one from last month, it´s obvious how steady the Online Music Market in China is growing:

Post on China Music Radar in November 2009

Report on China Daily in March 2011

Shanghai developing an infrastructure for live music

April 4, 2011

Take a look at this report on how Shanghai slowly adapts to the growing appetite for live entertainment… for Chinese AND foreign artists. They apparently know what´s out there and are hungry to hear and see it!