Tunes tracked in Asian markets

Goldsmith chats up Music Matters conference

HONG KONG — While the live music industry is thriving in mature markets, it still has a long way to go in the Asia-Pacific region.

That was the message of Harvey Goldsmith, managing director of Harvey Goldsmith Prods., in his keynote speech Thursday at conference Music Matters.

Asia-Pacific markets here need to be developed and researched, and sponsors sought without being promised what can’t be delivered, Goldsmith added.

It’s also important for promoters to work together as opposed to bidding against each other, only to find the large sum of money that won a contract can’t be recouped.

You have to work toward building a market, not putting up barriers, Goldsmith said.

Not a man who minces words, Goldsmith said the record industry was the only industry to cause its consumers misery and confusion, then wonder why those consumers download for free whenever possible.

Technology in particular has created a rift between consumers and companies, which have been slow to integrate these new options. Streaming and downloading are unstoppable, he said, so why not embrace it?

Companies need to be realistic and allow people to take home part of their concert experience, which may include photos with a mobile phone or recordings of songs, he said.

At a later conference session, Kelvin Wadsworth, head of Asia for Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Asia), emphasized that anything that gives more choice is good for the consumer, artist and industry. He also said each market in Asia has different needs and capabilities, with some regions, such as Southeast Asia, lagging behind in digital.

Part of the recipe for success for the recording industry is to nurture new talent locally and internationally. “Whilst the world is getting smaller, local talents are getting bigger in their markets,” Goldsmith said.

This is clear in Asia, where local or regional acts book larger venues than popular Western bands.

The big Western acts want to play China in particular, but Goldsmith said it will take time before they are widely accepted, adding he didn’t think the Chinese particularly like the sound of Western music.

There’s also the issue of censorship in China. For live music shows, lyrics need to be translated and submitted for advance approval.

“That process has become a lot faster,” said Jonathan Krane, president of EMMA Entertainment (Beijing) Co. For example, the approval process for the Rolling Stones, who played Shanghai recently, took three to four weeks with no hurdles, he added. (A few songs were banned.)

“The (Chinese) government wants to show the world they’re open for business,” Krane added.

Another spot that soon will be open to live-entertainment business is the special administrative region of Macau, which is about a one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong.

The Venetian casino complex will have a 15,000-seat arena and a 1,800-seat Cirque du Soleil theater, as well as gondoliers singing classical music, street entertainers and international and local acts.

“Macau will be the premier entertainment destination,” said Steve Webster, region veep of marketing for Venetian Macau. The complex will be completed this year.

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