I’m a fan of Tizzy Bac’s latest album and so I couldn’t resist posting this clip since both the footage and audio are such good quality on KKBOX. (I believe it’s some Taiwanese music show for digital music charts, maybe like ‘Top of the pops’.)
Archive for the 'Asian pop' Category
I’ve read in a couple of sources that the size of the Taiwan music recording industry in terms of revenue is roughly one tenth of its former self of the 90’s. Even in the 90’s priracy was a problem with the illegal distribution of pirated copies but in the internet era illegal downloading is just rampant:
“Citing statistics from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Chang previously noted that, despite Taiwan’s top-notch domestic talents and thriving music scene, total music revenue dropped sharply from NT$13 billion [US$442.3 million] in 1997 to NT$1.5 billion [US$51 million] in 2008 – with piracy and illegal downloads mostly to blame.”
However, in one of my latest blog readings there’s apparently a glimmer of hope with all the top labels and orgs getting behind a website called “omusic.com.tw” with the aim of supplying legal music to the Taiwanese and Chinese consumer. But it’s hard to compete with free…
And here’s a quote from the Omusic Chairman: “Omusic sets the precedent for the cooperation of music labels in Taiwan, as we work together to hopefully revamp the country’s digital music ecosystem and to further influence the market in Mainland China. With full support from the artists, record labels, music copyright industry, music industry groups and telecom operators, Omusic’s comprehensive digital-music platform hopes to help take Taiwanese pop to the forefront of the licensed online music market across Greater China.”
I’m getting into tonnes of Asian bands that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to, such as Cui Jian (‘godfather of Chinese rock’), Carsick Cars (one of the latest indies out of Bejing) and some Taiwanese and Japanese indie bands. I’m also a fan of L’Arc-en-Ciel, but there are so many versions and spellings of their names and they’re not coming up in the itunes search. Surely that can’t be the limit to itunes? L’Arc-en-Ciel has got to be one of the biggest Japanese rock bands since the 90’s -from what I know anyway…
…are basically Asian post-rock and indie bands… Borris, for example, recently came down to Sydney for the Lou Reed curation thingy… I didn’t get to see them, but I heard about them and became a fan. They’re very grungy and feed-backy- like a melodic Sonic Youth.
Another Japanese band I came across just on You.tube is LITE -I’ve downloaded a few songs off iTunes -they’re mainly instrumental but I dig them.
And I’ve become a bit of a fan of the Carsick Cars -they’re kind of uplifting.
I bagged out iTunes a little previously, but it’s become my preferred point of music distribution, simply because I’m bored with Western rock. Maybe I shouldn’t be, I know there are tonnes of cool bands from Aus like Children Collide ( I think they’re Aussie) and others, but I’m a little sentimental for Asia, and the hype of the Western music industry turns me off. It’s like the ‘Myspace generation’ (now the ‘Facebook generation’) is all about showing off…
So when I walk into a record store in Sydney I often come out uninspired, yet iTunes generally lets me get access to the stuff I’m discovering across the blogosphere.
Ironically I won’t start getting into Sydney bands again until I’m working in Asia again. But some of these bands from Beijing, Japan and Taiwan come from a slightly different perspective, and they therefore have something new and refreshing to offer me. They have a healthy, though neglected scene, where it’s still about discovery rather than hype (the hype in Asia centres around pop divas and mainstream music).
http://www.taiwanfun.com/music/0811/0811_1976.htm (Taiwan band 1976)
I’ve written previously about some of my frustrations with the iPod and iTunes, and it’s probably partly because I feel they seem to be dominating etc… But I have been using iTunes and there are some pro’s compared to walking into a CD store… And I mention this because I have been getting into some Chinese and Taiwanese bands -stuff I’d never be able to buy in a record store here, even in Chinatown.
I’m a bit of a fan of the indie and underground scene of Taiwan (thought more last generation) -such bands as Tizzy Bac, 1976, 8mmSky and To A God Unknown.
I’ve also become a fan of Cui Jian, often referred to as the ‘father of Chinese Rock’. I’d actually bought a cheap tape of his in Chinatown (Sydney) -it was in the sales bin, but the quality was poor. I’m guessing it was a ‘daoban’ -pirated copy, unless the record company just did a botch job.
Anyway, the plus side of iTunes is that it’s easy to check out overseas acts, you can listen to a 30sec clip and ‘cherry pick’ -the very thing Record Companies don’t want consumers doing. So, maybe CDs are cheaper, and if you’re lucky, you can find your favourite band for $10, giving you at least $1 per track, you don’t have the option of cherry picking, or avoiding the ‘fillers’.
But there are still drawbacks to iTunes -some bands I still can’t get hold of. One of my favourite bands from Taiwan is ‘The Chairman’ -and I’ve been dying to get their lastest album but can’t find it on itunes. Maybe I need to use their Chinese name, but I think I tried that.
Another draw back is even popular Chinese artists don’t have their back catalogue on iTunes. I’m not a huge fan of Coco Lee, but she has an amazing voice and there some old songs I wanted to track down, but not available on iTunes unfortunately…
Having lived in Asia for several years (China, Taiwan, Korea) sometimes I like to check out the CD stores in Chinatown -there’s one artist recently who I first came across called Joanna Wang…
After decades of ‘Canto-pop’ and ‘Mando-pop’ from Hongkong and Taiwan dominating the Chinese music industry, Joanna Wang is a refreshing change and in my mind virtually the savior of the Chinese pop scene…
Why? Because she’s different, honest and original (She has a great jazzy voice -not unlike Sarah Blasko, with a kind of jazz-cabaret indie style of songwriting). Her style markedly contrasts with the conservative pop blandness of 90% of the pop divas, boy bands and girl bands. It doesn’t surprise me the Asian public seek this kind of refreshing change.
Mind you I listen to a few Asian pop idols -I’m a fan of Jay Chou, just because he’s a great songwriter. And I became a fan of Coco Lee after hearing the “Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger” soundtrack -I’d no idea how well she could sing. However, not all the songs on her albums are of the same songwriting and production caliber as a song accompanied by Yoyo Ma.
Generally speaking the Chinese and Koreans have loved their pop idols. The Chinese have a saying to describe the top pop stars – The Four Great Heavenly Kings of pop. They love their pop songs, their love ballads, their sexy dance tracks etc… Other genres have always suffered -from what I hear the indie rock scene makes virtually no money, has virtually no media support and are pretty much unknown by the mainstream population except a few eager students. But perhaps with online avenues of promotion and distribution things are changing.
My impression is there isn’t enough support in the industry by passionate supporters who are not so focused on making money but rather seeking to support some great indie and alternative bands. The feeling is the desire and knack to make it in the pop world is the prime motivator of labels, where as in the West, boy bands and divas may dominate but there’s still a lively support for indie music and many indie musicians seem to make a good living from their art.
Joanna Wang is fortunate in that her father is a prominent music producer and she grew up in the states with different influences.
But I suppose Asia is more “karaoke dominated” -they’re more inclined to sing a balled rather than pick up a guitar -though that’s a very broad generalization.