Mu­si­cian finds new ways to reach fans

No longer moored to tra­di­tional mu­sic la­bels, a new gen­er­a­tion of artists and producers find free­dom

China Daily (Canada) - - PEOPLE - By BO LE­UNG bole­ung@mail.chi­nadai­

In the good old days , say around 1990, as­pir­ing mu­si­cians made it big by find­ing an agent and sign­ing a deal with a record com­pany. To­day, with the in­ter­net open­ing the door to an era of “free mu­sic”, artists are de­vel­op­ing a more hand­son re­la­tion­ship with their fans and us­ing so­cial me­dia to pro­mote their work.

But for Bri­tish- Chi­nese elec­tronic mu­sic artist and mu­sic pro­ducer Andy Le­ung, Face­book, Twit­ter and WeChat are old tech. He has come up with his own solution, which he hopes to share with other as­pir­ing mu­si­cians in China and Bri­tain.

The 30-year-old got his big break in 2010, when one of his elec­tronic com­po­si­tions was used in the London 2012 Olympics and Cul­tural Olympiad. It was per­formed in Trafal­gar Square at the South­bank Cen­tre and fea­tured on Ra­dio 3 — the BBC’s se­ri­ous mu­sic chan­nel. It was also fea­tured on BBC tele­vi­sion.

As his ca­reer pro­gressed, Le­ung found con­ven­tional so­cial me­dia was not ad­e­quate for con­nect­ing with fans and other artists. So he de­cided to take some time to learn pro­gram­ming and coding.

“I wanted some­thing bet­ter to connect me and my mu­sic to my fans, so I de­vel­oped an app on my phone,” he said. The app al­lows him to text his fans di­rectly and they can re­ceive his lat­est down­loads and up­dates.

“I will re­lease a free song on the last Fri­day of ev­ery month for the rest of my ca­reer,” Le­ung said. “I call this my life­time project.”

Al­ready a pro­ducer, mu­si­cian, DJ and event or­ga­nizer,


Le­ung now wants to fo­cus on build­ing his Beat Na­tions com­pany, which he founded in 2013, into a cred­i­ble la­bel to pro­mote artists’ work.

“I think my love for mu­sic came when I was younger and my par­ents made my sis­ter and me learn to play the pi­ano,” said Le­ung, who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Mil­ton Keynes af­ter mov­ing to the UK at age. “While my sis­ter stopped play­ing at Grade 8, I car­ried on and even joined a band at school.”

His fa­ther, an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer, and his mother, a po­di­a­trist, have sup­ported his mu­si­cal ca­reer.

Le­ung stud­ied mu­sic and sound record­ing at the Univer­sity of Sur­rey and worked at a mu­sic tech­nol­ogy com­pany. In 2014, he teamed up with award-win­ning artist Wan Pinchu from Hong Kong to com­pose a new work, a reimag­in­ing of the tra­di­tional Chi­nese vi­olin with Le­ung’s elec­tronic back­ing. That led to a sec­ond col­lab­o­ra­tion in 2016 and an al­bum.

“At first, I just wanted to be a sound en­gi­neer and be be­hind the scenes, but then I got into pro­duc­tion,” said Le­ung. “When I heard mu­sic by Quincy Jones, DJ Shadow and Dr Dre, I was ask­ing my­self, ‘How do they put this mu­sic to­gether?’ I wanted to find out and im­i­tate what they were do­ing.

“Be­cause of changes in tech­nol­ogy, we are in a gen­er­a­tion where ev­ery­one can make mu­sic on their com­puter and smart­phone. To stand out from the crowd, con­sis­tency is as im­por­tant as artis­tic qual­ity now.”

Tullis Ren­nie, a mu­sic lec­turer at London’s City Univer­sity, said the old-style “record la­bel” is al­ready out of date and Le­ung’s ap­proach is a step for­ward in the dig­i­tal age. Now that artists no longer rely on record la­bels, the field is open for in­no­va­tive ideas.


Andy Le­ung per­forms on stage in Trafal­gar Square on Feb 14.

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