Bridging The Entertainment Gap Between China, The US

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While music streaming is undeniably a global business, a lot of artists are missing out on certain international revenue opportunities owing to cultural and geographic differences, such as those that exist between the US and China. Fortunately, Far East Global thinks they have a solution to this problem.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

Music streaming is a global business, but artists are unknowingly missing out on revenue due to cultural and geographic differences. Fortunately, East Goes Global has a solution.

The Chinese music market is booming, and it’s still growing. For the first time in history, the Chinese market is among the world’s largest–in 2017, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry confirmed China had finally entered the top ten music markets. This is all great news for American artists who want to break into the Chinese market but doing so remains a challenge. Many of the most popular streaming services and social media platforms in North America and Europe—Spotify, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Apple Music, etc.—are banned in China. Plenty of streaming services exist, but it’s a new development in a country with a history of piracy where the laws are constantly evolving. That’s where East Goes Global comes in. Founder Andrew Spalter is an expert in the Chinese market, stemming from his tenure as the manager for internationally-charting pop star Jessie J, who became the first foreign competitor to win Chinese competition and television show Singer 2018. Following Jessie J’s win [on the show] and numerous sold-out stadium and arena tours, Spalter’s name began to gain notoriety in the Chinese mainstream music scene.

Spalter was soon approached by numerous superstars to aid in breaking the artists in the American market. What Spalter immediately discovered is that there is an enormous disconnect between both American and Chinese listeners and both sides were missing out on significant revenue because of it.

“You hear it all the time when speaking to entrepreneurs…my ‘aha!’ moment was…well, in my case, there were a few ‘aha’s!’, and they beat me over the head with a sledgehammer. Things like Directors of International Marketing at major US labels claiming that Spotify was available in China, another label offering a dairy branded deal to a Vegan, Chinese artists who were signed to US labels never seeing a dime of their streaming royalties, and so much more…it became clear that both sides were missing something that no one saw an opportunity in. 

Operating using his knowledge of working with Jessie J in the Chinese market, Spalterlaunched East Goes Global to build a bridge between eastern and western music markets, targeting streaming services like NetEase and QQ Music that have four times the number of users that Spotify and Apple Music do.

In just a year, East Goes Global has begun to reveal new paths into a previously uncharted market, guiding the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, DJ Snake, Yungblud and Clairo to millions of new listeners. Because Spalter has experience in both markets, East Goes Global’s approach is natural, comprehensive and focused on breaking down cultural barriers using social media, playlist pitching, working directly with influencers and consulting, in addition to other methods. East Goes Global is well-equipped to operate in the Chinese market in part because they are aware of copyright laws and the state of the Chinese music industry as a result.

According to IFPL, music streaming services in China are slow to take off because “overall subscriber numbers remain low due largely to a combination of free licensed offerings and online piracy.” Despite this, IFPL insists that there is a strong case for optimism about the industry. In 2018, IFPL regional director for Asia Ang Kwee Tiang said that the value of the music industry grew in 2017 by 35.3% to $292.3m, with streaming revenue growing 26.5% to $204.5m. Though these numbers are still low compared to United States services like Spotify, it’s a significant increase when, less than a decade ago, piracy dominated people’s listening habits. According to Music Ally, “This is why piracy is no longer the main debate in the Chinese music industry. Ang showed a slide claiming that in 2010, 97.5% of online-music traffic in China was going to unlicensed and pirate sites, but that by 2017, 70% of traffic was to licensed audio and video sites.”

Entering the Chinese market as an American artist isn’t the only thing that East Goes Global can help with—Spalter and his team are experts in the American music industry as well and are more than capable of introducing Chinese artists to the American market. In 2017, the United States music industry made over seven billion dollars, according to an RIAA report. The report cites an 11.4 percent growth from the previous year, due in large part to the increase in on-demand streaming services. In the second quarter of 2019, Spotify had over 100 million paid users. With so many paid users and an industry worth more than 20 times what its Chinese counterpart is worth, the American music market contains untold potential for Chinese artists. East Goes Global is designed with artists on both sides of the globe in mind. With anti-piracy laws finally succeeding and legal, paid streaming services exploding, it’s only a matter of time before the demand for American artists grows in China and vice versa.

“There has never been a better time than now to begin focusing on the Chinese entertainment market. In music, China has moved up to the #10 largest music market in the entire world. Today, with the recent success of anti-piracy laws, the growth of revenue from streaming services, and the increased focus and role that social media plays in artists’ global success, the stage is perfectly set for global opportunity. With years of experience within both the Eastern and Western entertainment markets, East Goes Global has positioned itself to be the leader in the field of global development. From managing both Chinese and US social media platforms to assurance and collection of streaming royalties to sourcing branding and marketing opportunities for now more than 40 clients all working the Eastern market, East Goes Global is the premier team in developing your business on a truly global scale.

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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