No Party for Cao Dong was formed in 2012 by four teenagers who hung out on the eponymous street. They caught fire in 2015 with their self-distributed debut EP, which sold out in one day. In 2016 they snatched three awards, including best band, at the Golden Indie Music Awards in Taiwan. Then earlier this year the were honored by Taiwan’s leading streaming service KK Box with the indie artist of the year prize.
The Golden Melody Awards have long been considered the Grammys for Greater China, and artists from Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore regularly pick up prizes. Billy Koh, founder/CEO of Beijing-based Amusic Rights Management, says, “the Golden Melody Awards are the only credible awards show in the Chinese-speaking world. In mainland China pop music award shows are organized by some kind of media, and there is always a trade off between the media and the major labels.”
Koh goes on to note that while pop and rock from Taiwan dominated mainland China in the 1990s and early 2000s, domestic repertoire has risen to a place of prominence recently with Taiwanese acts still extremely important. “If a mainland act can grab a prize at the GMA it will really help them in their home market,” he adds.
Vivian Lee is a director at Taipei-based Linfair Records, one of the biggest homegrown labels in Taiwan. She stress that the mainland market is massively important for Taiwanese acts. “Popular Taiwanese acts earn about five times as much revenue from mainland market as they do from domestic income.” She adds that royalty collection has improved on the mainland, benefiting Taiwanese bands, and all rights holders doing business in China.
Archie Hamilton, co-founder/managing director at Beijing and Shanghai-based Splitworks, a leading indie promoter of international repertoire in mainland China, sees the Chinese market as growing but facing challenges. “Live music has been the vanguard in China for the last 10 years and there has been lots of investment in that sector.” He stresses the future remains to be seen. “The big four Chinese tech companies have been investing in recorded music…now they have to convert free to paying subscribers…”
The Golden Melody Awards conference also offered insights into Asian music and the industry at large. During a panel on EDM in Greater China, Eric Zho, CEO of A2Live said “localization is so important in the Chinese-speaking world.” He noted that originally it was spinners from the Top 100 DJ list that drew the crowds but now creating top-name Chines DJs is the way forward. Zho also highlighted the phenomenal growth of the genre in China, noting a 28-fold increase in hits for music across all online platforms in China since 2012.
The panel on Southeast Asian music industries also offered insights into that region. Tony Nagamaiah, general manager of Malaysia Major Events, discussed the market impact of the music industry on his country. He related that the licensing of music had grown at 8.9% per year over the last 10 years and the value-added impact of the industry as a whole on the Malaysian economy was a whopping $1.3 billion annually. He outlined initiatives with the government to grab a greater share of the Asian market.