Monday, December 21, 2009

The China overground

China Music Radar, a blog written by expat Westerners, has an interesting corrective post today. Western journalists (myself included) tend to focus on the “underground” rock scene, ignoring the robust pop world that dominates Chinese life. And I do mean pop: this is candied, light stuff that you hear in cabs, on TV, piped into Beijing’s glitzy shopping centers.

There aren’t a lot of opportunities for China’s punk- and indie-influenced rock bands, for fairly obvious reasons. But as with many industries in China, the pop market there looks like an advanced version of what’s going on in the West. Near-100 percent piracy killed physical sales long ago, which leaves pop stars to make money in other ways:

  • reality TV
  • endorsements
  • gala performances (“the bizarre concept of taking X number of the hottest ‘stars’ at that moment and get all of them to perform/lipsync one song each for glowstick waving fans on national TV”)

Maybe I’m behind the times slightly, but I thought that mobile sale (ring-backs, etc.) are also a big revenue stream. Is that dead already?

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