Shanghai Leyi Looks to Build on Success of Silk Road Fest, Sponsor More Artists and Improve Chinese Music Rights
At MIDEM, Billboard caught up with Chinese executive Bill Yanbin Zang, president of the Shanghai Leyi company, a venture out of that Chinese mega-city. The company is pushing forward an 18-country platform they call the Silk Road Alliance. Primarily, but not exclusively, based around nations of the Silk Road, Shanghai Leyi has so far used it to put on events like the Ningbo Maritime Silk Road International Music festival in 2016 and the 2017 Silk Road Indie Music Festival in Chengdu.
Bands from the areas along the famous trade route, as well as other territories, have performed and been awarded prizes. The 2017 fest in the central Chinese city of Chengdu saw powerful performances by acts from territories as diverse as Georgia, Armenia, Japan, Italy, South Africa, Lithuania, Poland and India.
Zang explained that the platform is an alliance that is designed to benefit all participants. He noted, "We're working on having a tighter collaboration with all the member countries and companies, especially in regard to music content production and performance." He sees the cross-fertilization as a great opportunity to expose Chinese artists and producers to diverse music and help expand their horizons.
Zang added, "a lot of Chinese artists don't have the opportunity to travel at this point so by bringing this wide range of artists to China they can hear all kinds of music first-hand."
"We are sponsoring Chinese composers and artists to go to member countries, expand their musical education, and work with their international counterparts." Shanghai Leyi plans to represent the artists, participate in master tape creation, and promote more live events based on these activities.
Shanghai Leyi also has designs to challenge the Chinese music rights system as it is currently practiced in regards to television. Zang contends many TV shows, particularly dramas, in China don't pay for the music they use as part of their broadcast and he intends to change that. He sees the music the platform they're engendering as perfect for television exploitation.
Zang stresses the Silk Road Alliance is double-pronged, providing new ways for Chinese artists to create content and perform and offering international acts the same.