British independent labels are looking to increase their presence in China through the launch of a dedicated music services office, <i>ELW</i> has learned. Based in Beijing, the office opened for busi


LONDON -- British independent labels are looking to increase their presence in China through the launch of a dedicated music services office, ELW has learned. Based in Beijing, the office opened for business on May 16.

The project is a joint-effort between British indie trade body the Assn. of Independent Music and the U.K. Trade & Investment, a British government organization set up to help foster international trade. The level of funding pledged by the UKTI has not been revealed.

Helming the new office is Stuart Watson, chairman of SWAT Enterprises, the Singapore-based independent marketing and promotion service for indie labels. "It's all about establishing a strong presence for the U.K. music industry as the Chinese market continues to open up and develop. Opportunities for British artists abound in this market," Watson tells ELW.

The office's role is to provide a support service and "hot desk" on the ground to companies and individuals wishing to meet local promoters and potential licensees. Through its network of contacts in China, Watson will help set up the necessary introductions.

"The infrastructure to facilitate increased live performances is only just developing, with most international acts currently only performing in Beijing and Shanghai. But it is important to bear in mind that there are 100 other cities that have a population of over 100 million," Watson adds.

Until now, China's music market has remained a sleeping giant with a potential audience of more than 1.3 billion consumers. "There are so many openings for writers, producers, engineers and video producers that we have to be there as things develop," Watson notes.

SWAT opened for business in 1994 serving the emerging markets of the Asia-Pacific region. Watson relinquished control of the company when he joined Zomba, now part of Sony BMG, in 1999. SWAT was relaunched in 2003 when Watson exited Zomba, where he was international managing director.

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