Chi­nese pop mu­sic aims to be hit in West

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­GUS MCNEICE in Lon­don an­gus@mail.chi­nadai­

From Jay Chou in the 2000s to G.E.M. to­day, China has pro­duced its share of mu­sic megas­tars with le­gions of fans across Asia.

But few Chi­nese stars have man­aged to em­u­late the suc­cess that many South Korean “K-pop” acts have ex­pe­ri­enced in the West.

An ex­am­ple is K-pop’s cur­rent big­gest boy band, BTS, who are about to em­bark on a ma­jor world tour that in­cludes dates at Lon­don’s O2 Arena. Last year, the band was men­tioned on Twit­ter more times than Justin Bieber or US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Bri­tish mu­sic ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Budd, who owns mu­sic man­age­ment com­pany Stephen Budd Mu­sic, said he be­lieves he knows K-pop’s se­cret to suc­cess.

“There’s been a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween West­ern pro­duc­ers and song­writ­ers and Korean song­writ­ers over the last 10 years or so,” Budd said. “And you can see the re­sults — you’ve got K-pop artists sell­ing out con­certs and streaming to mil­lions across the globe.”

This month, Budd joined forces with in­de­pen­dent Chi­nese la­bel Modern Sky Records — and the plan is to take Chi­nese rock and pop mu­sic global.

“China has yet to ex­port many of its artists,” said Budd. “I think that when we get Chi­nese record pro­duc­ers work­ing along­side Bri­tish, Euro­pean and Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers and song­writ­ers, then they are go­ing to be able to cre­ate some­thing that po­ten­tially is re­ally ex­portable from China.”

Founded by Shen Li­hui in 1997, Modern Sky Records is one of China’s big­gest in­de­pen­dent la­bels. It rep­re­sents more than 90 bands and artists, in­clud­ing ac­tress and singer Mag­gie Che­ung and rock mu­si­cian Xie Tianx­iao.

The la­bel has an­nounced the cre­ation of a new mu­sic stu­dio in Bei­jing, where its tal­ent will col­lab­o­rate with the Bri­tish and Euro­pean pro­duc­ers on Budd’s ros­ter who have worked with the

likes of Lana Del Rey, CeeLo Green, and the Arc­tic Mon­keys.

“We re­al­ized Stephen has ac­cu­mu­lated a wealth of out­stand­ing pro­duc­ers and sound en­gi­neers from Europe and the United States,” said Fancy Fan, vice-pres­i­dent of Modern Sky Records. “The core is to achieve a high­erqual­ity mu­sic. Of course, we be­lieve that high-qual­ity mu­sic will get more at­ten­tion in the global mu­sic mar­ket.”

For proof that in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion can lead to in­creased recog­ni­tion and record sales, Budd points to the K-pop in­dus­try, which is val­ued at $5 bil­lion and has pro­duced a num­ber of stars who have bro­ken into the main­stream.

“A lot of the Euro­pean pop writ­ers have had sub­stan­tial suc­cess in Korea,” he said.

A decade ago, ma­jor K-pop la­bel SM En­ter­tain­ment joined forces with Swedish mu­sic mogul Pelle Lidell, who rep­re­sented pro­duc­ers on be­half of the Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Pub­lish­ing Group.

Lidell matched SM En­ter­tain­ment artists with Bri­tish and Scan­di­na­vian pro­duc­ers to cre­ate some of the big­gest hits in K-pop.

Dan­ish pro­duc­ers Lars Halvor Jensen and Martin Michael Lars­son and Bri­tish pro­ducer Alex James co-wrote the mu­sic for the 2010 hit Hoot, by South Korean girl group Girls’ Gen­er­a­tion. The song has racked up more than 41 mil­lion hits on YouTube.

Does Fan hope that Budd’s sta­ble of Euro­pean pro­duc­ers can have a sim­i­lar im­pact on her Chi­nese la­bel?

“Ab­so­lutely,” she said.

Mag­gie Che­ung

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