An ecosys­tem for dig­i­tal mu­sic sup­ports Chi­nese artists

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - MUSIC - By CHEN NAN

With three stu­dio al­bums to his name, singer-song­writer Li Rong­hao is pre­par­ing for a new al­bum and a na­tion­wide tour this year. How­ever, like many Chi­nese singer­song­writ­ers, Li, who was born in Bengbu, East China’s An­hui prov­ince, was strug­gling to have his mu­sic heard a few years ago.

“I wanted to know what peo­ple thought of my songs but I couldn’t find any lis­ten­ers, ex­cept for peo­ple I knew, such as my class­mates and neigh­bors,’ re­calls Li, aged 32, who started learn­ing gui­tar at the age of 9 and be­gan writ­ing songs in high school.

How­ever, thanks to the in­ter­net, he was able to find his au­di­ence and rise from be­ing an un­known in­die singer-song­writer to a pop star.

The turn­ing point in his for­tunes was in 2014 when his de­but al­bum, Model, re­ceived four nom­i­na­tions and won the best new singer award at the 25th Golden Melody Awards, which are con­sid­ered the Grammy Awards for the Man­darin-speak­ing mu­sic scene.

Li shared his story at a re­cent news con­fer­ence for the Ten­cent In­die Mu­si­cians Project, a pro­gram launched by Ten­cent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group, part of China’s in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent, aimed at sup­port­ing Chi­nese singer-song­writ­ers.

The com­pany has in­tro­duced an on­line plat­form, which of­fers a va­ri­ety of ser­vices for new singer­song­writ­ers, in­clud­ing re­leas­ing songs, ar­rang­ing live shows and copy­right pro­tec­tion of their ma­te­rial.

“We want to help tal­ented singer­song­writ­ers find a mar­ket for their songs while pro­tect­ing their rights,” says He­len Lo, strate­gic de­velop- ment man­ager of Ten­cent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group.

Ten­cent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group was founded in July last year as a lead­ing on­line mu­sic ser­vice com­pany in China, with the merger of three ma­jor on­line mu­sic stream­ing providers, QQ Mu­sic, KuGou and Kuwo.

There are more than 60,000 in­die singer-song­writ­ers reg­is­tered on the six on­line mu­sic sites, and they have re­leased more than 100,000 dig­i­tal al­bums.

Ac­cord­ing to Cus­sion Pang, CEO of Ten­cent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group, the do­mes­tic mu­sic scene is go­ing through a re­vival, with a grow­ing num­ber of singer-song­writ­ers emerg­ing.

“The preva­lence of var­i­ous mu­sic so­cial me­dia plat­forms means it’s now eas­ier than ever for the in­die singer-song­writ­ers to reach lis­ten­ers,” Pang says.

One who has suc­cess­fully done so is singer-song­writer Liu Ruiqi, who streams her live shows and in­ter­acts with her fans via one of the on­line mu­sic sites. Now, the 23-year-old singer-song­writer has more than 1.2 mil­lion fans on­line and is pre­par­ing for her first na­tional tour.

“Dur­ing the process of pre­par­ing (Ten­cent In­die Mu­si­cians Project), the num­bers we found out were re­ally shock­ing for us, which urged us to carry out the pro­gram and ben­e­fit those hard-work­ing in­die mu­si­cians,” says Pang, adding that 60 per­cent of in­die singer-song­writ­ers in China make about 2,000 yuan ($297) a month and 80 per­cent of in­die singer-song­writ­ers couldn’t get their songs heard.

He also adds that the com­pany is ded­i­cated to en­forc­ing IP pro­tec­tion in the mu­sic in­dus­try, a ma­jor is­sue when work­ing with in­die singer­song­writ­ers.

De­spite China’s huge pop­u­la­tion, it has never ranked among the top 10 mu­sic mar­kets, largely due to the ram­pant piracy. How­ever, the rise of stream­ing means the po­ten­tial of the Chi­nese mu­sic mar­ket is be­gin­ning to be tapped.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of the Phono­graphic In­dus­try Global Mu­sic Re­port 2017, recorded mu­sic rev­enue grew 20.3 per­cent in China last year, driven by a 30.6 per­cent rise in stream­ing.

Ma­jor and in­de­pen­dent la­bels from all over the world, are now work­ing with lo­cal part­ners de­ter­mined to cre­ate a le­git­i­mate busi­ness de­liv­er­ing qual­ity ser­vices that re­ward artists and rights hold­ers.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to be proac­tive in build­ing a real eco­nomic ecosys­tem for dig­i­tal mu­sic in China, and con­tribut­ing to a healthy dig­i­tal mu­sic land­scape for in­de­pen­dent mu­si­cians,” Pang says.

We want to help tal­ented singer-song­writ­ers find a mar­ket for their songs while pro­tect­ing their rights.” He­len Lo, strate­gic de­vel­op­ment man­ager of Ten­cent Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Group

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