An interesting little state of the union piece was penned today by the good folks at China Music Radar that you can read here. It’s essentially addressing the big budget shows coming up in both Beijing and Shanghai.
There is a lot to be said about these shows, especially the Metallica sellout at the Mercedez Benz Arena and the Aerosmith’s gamble playing a 24,000 seater. There’s enough industry inside-information to go around about these. One line i’m concerned with comes towards the end:
The real money needs to be spent at the grass roots level, building the stars of the future. Ticket prices need to be in line with the incomes of people that might actually go to shows (students and young professionals) and artists chosen that fit the tastes of these consumers. Yet the big promoters keep going large on artists that they themselves like or have heard of, taking little or no heed of the real needs of the people.
mixed feelings on this one!
On one hand, a level-headed person will argue that this is already done. programs and contests to find the next big superstar since Faye Wang are all over the place. Also, ticket prices are just not out of line much with what’s already happening all over the country! S.H.E’s reunion tour Beijing leg has tickets from 280 to 1680 RMB which is what promoters are charging for Metallica. Suede’s gig at the Worker’s Gym is priced between 380 and 980 rmb
The fact that these gigs sell out is encouraging and shows that there is money to be spent in entertainment here…. sure, not everyone can afford those tickets. But that’s the case everywhere else in the world. My wallet is still hurting from the 1680 rmb i shelled for my Metallica ticket and I’m not even looking at the train/hotel expenses yet.
Now, I love Split Works and what they do but in this case, there is a little bit of “the pot calling the kettle black” when this statement is made: big promoters keep going large on artists that they themselves like or have heard of, taking little or no heed of the real needs of the people. No offense but i haven’t heard of half the bands that they brought over here and i’ve also pretty much missed most of them due to no interest. The Few i did catch were ok but nothing mindblowing.
Jamiroquai might do well, Korn will do well but Aerosmith has no chance in hell to fill half those seats, especially after everyone has already spent their cash on the other bands. Still though, the market is huge and people have disposable income.
What should the promoters do?
i have no clue! I’d say: be less greedy but then again, everyone has to make a living.
On the pop side, they seem to be doing well with acts like Beyonce, Roxette, Bieber and what not.. the rock world is a little different and doesn’t have the mainstream appeal of the popsters. No chance in hell to get on TV unless you are a name.. and the big names in rock are those who have proven themselves over and over. Easier to gamble on them than on newer acts. Man, i’d love to see one of Jack White’s bands come over.. musically amazing… but who’s gonna go? They might know The White Stripes but definitely not the dead weather or the raconteurs.
Part of me thinks Shanghai is doing things right: Bringing Slash to a 1000 seater and having a local band open for him is gonna do more to promote local bands than anything else. It gives them exposure and pressure they are not used to because let’s face it, when they play in China half the time, they can get away with anything (yes i’m generalising).
The other problem is still the lack of a proper pay scale, at least in Beijing: This year, I’ve paid an average ticket price of 60 to 80 rmb regardless of who was on the lineup and that’s wrong. I should NOT be paying the same ticket money for Brain Failure as i pay for Jacky Danny just as an example.
Also, venues routinely don’t take responsibility for gigs: you wanna plan a show, go ahead. we give you the venue and take some cash but you handle everything. I’ve lost count of the number of shows i’ve been to where no one knows who’s on stage, no even the venue owners… gimme a break!
It’s not that it’s all negative! Split Works is doing their part with a couple of indie names. SX Music is also trying hard to bring some sense of professionalism to the field as we see with the Hanggai Festival or the tours they organise for foreign artists like La Pegatina.
Archie’s column has plenty of good points but at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s all about money or grassroots…. it’s about common sense and tastes… or lack-thereof for both.
As far as the money goes, there’s plenty of it around… it’s just not in rock n roll.
Just as i finished writing this, i stumbled upon this little gem:
State of the Union: Houston, maybe it’s time to move forward, really! with the bands coming in this year, it feels like 2007 all over. How can we make sure than in 6 years, those articles are no longer relevant? that we’re not going round and round in circles?
Now that’s a question.