The British government is repeating its support for a trade mission to China by the country's independent labels following last year's successful inaugural initiative.

The British government is repeating its support for a trade mission to China by the country's independent labels following last year's successful inaugural initiative.

The U.K. Trade and Investment (UKTI) organization has joined forces with the association of Independent Music again to embark on the second trade mission, called 'AIM in China,' which takes place Oct. 25-Nov. 3.

This year, the trade mission is taking 17 British music companies to seek opportunities in the world's biggest emerging economy.

The objective is to create business contacts for live performances, tours, licensing, distribution, and new-media initiatives.

The first UKTI-AIM trade mission happened last year in Oct. 10-20. It was followed in May by the opening of a dedicated office in Beijing, which is being operated via Singapore-based music consultancy SWAT Enterprises.

This year, Simon Wheeler, head of new media at independent company The Beggars Group and chair of AIM's new media committee, is to use the mission to set up digital-music initiatives.

According to the country's China Internet Information Center, the country has more than 100 million Internet users, about 50% of whom are broadband subscribers. China's Ministry of Information Industry reported more than 370 million mobile-phone users by August this year.

James Taylor, managing director of Scotland-based indie P3 Music, says last year's mission was significant for his company.

"By the time we left, all our ideas of what we needed to do in China had changed. You really need to treat the country differently from the way you do business in the U.K. or the U.S.," he tells Billboard.biz. "We went back again in January this year and are going back there next January."

Although P3 has a distribution deal with Shanghai Epic Music Entertainment Company, a Sony BMG joint venture based in Shanghai, the trade mission led to 14 meetings immediately for P3 plus several one-off shows and festival performances for the label's acts.

For promoters seeking to send performers to China and its restrictive regulations, Taylor advises them to know there are two types of local promoters to work with.

'A Level' promoters are allowed to bring in foreign companies with acts who will be able to play anywhere in the country. 'B Level' promoters, on the other hand, are restricted to putting foreign acts in only specific provinces.

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