China facts of the day

by on March 3, 2016 at 12:35 am in Data Source, Economics, Music | Permalink

Yet the world’s biggest economy (at least by some measures) is tiny in terms of the size of its music market, which is smaller than that of Austria or Switzerland. It’s a mere sliver of the size of the US music industry.

Piracy is a major factor, but note this too:

While the IFPI calls China a country of “enormous untapped potential,” it also notes that only 10% of the market goes to non-Chinese-language music right now.

For the future there is this:

…all foreign media companies will be blocked from publishing digital content in the country, any online text, audio, or video content produced abroad—starting March 10—will be in violation (link in Chinese) of national law.

Here is the Amy X. Wang piece, via Ted Gioia, who also points out that now China is the largest movie market in the world.

By the way, are you still thinking that China’s service sector is holding the economic line?  Here is the latest:

Still, the services gauge slipped to 52.7 in February, from 53.5 in January. Measures of new orders, selling prices, employment, backlogs and inventories were below the 50 dividing line between improving and worsening conditions.

A separate manufacturing reading from Caixin Media and Markit Economics fell to 48 in February, from 48.4 in January.

That said, the 13th Five-Year Plan will be released soon…

1 Todd K March 3, 2016 at 2:12 am

“That said, the 13th Five-Year Plan will be released soon…”

And also the last Five-Year Plan.

2 Axa March 3, 2016 at 5:12 am

It’s interesting that movies have grown a lot while music don’t, why?

3 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 5:24 am

Music in China is really crap. There’s some cool traditional stuff, but people basically don’t buy or listen to this. There is basically no independent music scene or industry at all, with some very very minor exceptions in the indie scenes in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with the addition of some minor artist colonies that manage to co-exist in some smaller towns in a number of places. The pop stuff has basically no enduring appeal, and does not benefit from the high quality of production that much pop music sees in the West, and most of it amounts to variations of “I love you, you’re awesome, I need you, happy happy happy happy, so so sad when you’re not here, I love you…”, which might be fine for background listening on state operated radio stations, but hardly inspires people to part with their money.

Any talented musicians I’ve met in China, aside from those who play traditional Chinese music, have essentially zero interest in Chinese music and take the bulk of their inspiration from 60s-90s British and American rock and roll, alternative rock and metal.

Short: there is too much social control for commercial music to be very viable, and anything groundbreaking has precisely zero chance at radio play and legal marketing.

4 chuck martel March 3, 2016 at 6:08 am

Musicians will make music. It’s not necessary for there to be a powerful marketing scene for music to exist. People sing and play instruments at every level of cultural development. Perhaps a dearth of atonal cacophony indicates a primitive society but it could also mean that artistic frauds have yet to secure a place among the pseudo-civilized.

5 Nathan W March 3, 2016 at 9:16 am

There is no stage for them to play on. Musicians will make music, yes, but when the political and social cannot be a part of what they do, it becomes something much less.

6 Axa March 3, 2016 at 10:29 am

Well, the movie that raised 485 million USD in 3 weeks in China is a “literal fish-out-of-water rom-com” named The Mermaid. I think it’s impossible to be more pop than that.

I’d bet the cause is Chinese parents & culture that is similar to the rest of the world. Films, TV and singing are visualized as moneymaking activities while playing an instrument is related to poverty. Listen to any child exposed to media and the aspiration is to be a singer…..not the loser who plays the bass.

Piracy is not the answer, movies are also easy to pirate and the market does not seem to be suffering.

7 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 11:20 am

Your conclusion does not agree with your premise, and, moreover, it doesn’t answer to the question.

8 Andao March 3, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Not much of a concert-going culture. But going out to the movies is cheap and accessible.

If you’re going to pirate either it doesn’t matter, but that’s my guess.

9 Art Deco March 3, 2016 at 7:39 am

Piracy is a major factor, but note this too:

The disreputable Mr. Derbyshire offered: “There is an old joke about Heaven being a place with British government, American houses, French high culture, Japanese hygiene, Chinese cooks, and Italian opera, while Hell has Italian government, Japanese houses, American high culture, French hygiene, British cooks, and Chinese opera.”

10 Ann Hee Kyet March 4, 2016 at 11:23 am

I wonder what percentage of the US music market is non-English music? 10% non-Chinese music seems quite low for China, with K-Pop and J-Pop being quite popular.

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