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China’s live sector gets centralised ticketing system

China’s ministry of culture and tourism has implemented a new centralised ticketing system for the country’s live performance sector.

All domestic ticketing systems for live performances — including music, dance, comedy, and plays — will be linked to a national ticketing information management platform with unified standards for sales, distribution, and refunds.

The China Association of Performing Arts (CAPA), an industry body under the ministry that led the creation of the standards, says that their implementation will effectively curb scalpers as well as help monitor ticket sales and analyse the performance industry.

“With the support of this standard, future performance ticketing information collection and services are oriented to both the industry and the government,” says the CAPA.

“[Now] future performance ticketing information collection and services are oriented to both the industry and the government”

“Only by using real market data to reflect the real market conditions can we strive for more and more accurate policy support for the performance industry. The unified ticket management platform will enable the industry to more intuitively observe the performance industry and market operation status, and provide a data basis for market analysis.”

The platform was launched following criticism of some local and national vendors and event operators for setting aside tickets for “speculation and scalping”.

In an effort to curb such practices, the ministry of culture and tourism in 2017 introduced a new measure that required event operators to sell at least 70% of tickets for commercial performances directly to the public.

The ministry launched the new Performance Ticketing Service and Technical Specification system yesterday (19 August).

 


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10,000 people attend arena show in Shanghai

Chinese post-punk band Re-Tros made history on Saturday 22 May with the biggest rock show in China since the beginning of 2020.

The sold-out concert, promoted by Live Nation, saw Re-Tros (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues) performing to 10,000 people at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The production centred on a unique triangular stage that reflected the band’s logo, with the two-hour show also divided into three parts or ‘chapters’.

The band, who formed during the Chinese indie-rock renaissance of the mid-2000s, played some of their biggest hits, including ‘Momentarily Out of Mind’, ‘Pigs in the River’, ‘Billy Cannot Stop’ and ‘My Great Location’, closing with ‘Sounds for Celebration’.

“The show tonight was just a beginning for … all of us who are here for the return to live”

Edward Liu, managing director of Live Nation China, says: “Like the closing song itself, the show was a momentous celebration of sound, and there is no greater joy than that of live music and seeing fans connect with their favourite artists.

“It’s been four years since the last time we saw Re-Tros on stage for a headline show and tonight was and unprecedented, ingenious and a spectacular display of Chinese rock music that will go down in history. The show tonight was just a beginning for Re-Tros and all of us who are here for the return to live.”

As of 31 May, China – where Covid-19 originated – had just 14 new cases of the coronavirus.

 


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China to act on fake live stream viewer figures

Authorities in China plan to legislate to prevent organisers of livestream events from falsifying viewer figures, according to local media.

The move, spearheaded by the snappily named Office of Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, is intended to regulate the growing livestreaming ecommerce sector, reports the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN).

CGTN describes livestreaming ecommerce as a “new business model combin[ing] entertainment with consumption” which is becoming increasingly popular in China. Like the teleshopping of old, the sector relies on big retail promotions to shift products en masse, such as the recent Double 11 shopping extravaganza, which generated a mind-boggling US$56 billion in sales.

“On such a shopping spree, popular livestreaming influencers” – young celebrities and models hired to be the faces of the shopping channels – “would normally hit their new record scores in viewers and sales,” the site explains.

“The number of viewers, comment interactions, and even sales can be falsified”

“But to which extent the [final] results are valid” is now in question, “as the industry gets competitive and mature.”

The commission’s proposals are open for public consultation until 28 November.

The drive for regulation comes after a Tencent News article revealed that the practice of buying traffic to inflate viewing figures is widespread among influencers.

“The number of viewers, comment interactions, and even sales can be falsified,” a source told Tencent.

The audience for live streams of all kinds has exploded in China this year, with Chinese consumers, like their counterparts elsewhere, consuming more concerts, video game streams and other events as the coronavirus hit. As of March, 150 million people had viewed a livestreamed concert, and more than half a billion any kind of live stream (a number likely to be even higher nearly eight months later).

 


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Virtual K-pop band inaugurate new Shanghai stadium

K/DA, a virtual girl group composed of four League of Legends characters, performed during the opening ceremony for the League of Legends World Championship grand final at the new Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai on 31 October.

The competition, one of the biggest dates in the esports calendar, was the first event at the 33,765-capacity venue, constructed ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in 2023.

K/DA, created by League of Legends developer Riot Games, performed via augmented reality (AR), appearing on a physical stage in front of a crowd of 6,312 fans, according to tournament operator TJ Sports. The event was watched by an addition 3.8 million people online.

In addition to the virtual performers, the opening ceremony featured a number of real-world artists and dancers, including Chinese pop star Lexie Liu.

K/DA made their debut during a similar AR concert at the 2018 World Championships, which were held in Incheon, South Korea.

 


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Montreux Jazz Festival to launch China edition

Renowned Swiss event Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) is set to launch a new edition in China next year with a programme that’ll explore the theme of ‘when west meets east’.

The schedule will combine Chinese and Asian music as well as jazz, which has been enjoying a new lease of life in the country in recent years.

The new edition is due to take place between 5–8 October 2021 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and will be the Swiss event’s third international partner alongside Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

“The Montreux Jazz Festival is a legendary event, revered by music lovers from all over the world. I played there for the first time in 1982 and today, 40 years later, I have the honour of being the musical director of the festival in China,” says Ted Lo, musical director of the MJF China.

“After Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, we are pursuing our journey of mutual cultural and musical exchange in China”

“We are delighted to welcome Hangzhou and the passionate team of MJF China into the great MJF family,” added CEO of the MFJ Mathieu Jaton. “After Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, we are pursuing our journey of mutual cultural and musical exchange, values which have always been dear to MJF.”

The original festival in Montreux, Switzerland was founded by Claude Nobs in 1967 and has played host to artists including Etta James, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Ms Lauren Hill, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie.

This year, in light of the pandemic, MJF held a 16-day virtual music festival showcasing iconic Montreux performances from festivals past to mark what would have been its 54th edition.

MJF is due to hold four editions of the renowned festival in 2021: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the end of spring; the flagship festival in Montreux, Switzerland (2–17 July); Tokyo, Japan in the autumn; and finally Hangzhou, China.

Read IQ‘s feature on how MJF has softened the impact of Covid-19 by diversifying into digital content and live programming for its partners here.

 


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Electric Jungle promoter Boyi Zhou joins Live Nation

Live Nation Electronic Asia has appointed Boyi Zhou as chief marketing officer.

In the newly created position, Shanghai-based Zhou will lead the company’s marketing and partnerships teams, report to managing director Jim Wong.

Zhou joins Live Nation from Jungle Events, where he also served as CMO. In 2015 he co-founded Electric Jungle, south China’s first-ever electronic music festival, and has worked with international DJs including Martin Garrix, Skrillex, Excision, DJ Snake and Kaskade.

“Live Nation Electronic Asia has made great in-roads into China by introducing Creamfields to multiple cities and building dance music communities across Asia,” comments Wong. “By bringing the extremely talented Zhou on board, we will look to solidify our position in the region and work to diversify our artist touring and festival business to reach a broader audience.”

“By bringing the extremely talented Zhou on board, we will look to solidify our position in the region”

Since launching in 2017, Live Nation Electronic Asia has promoted and booked shows by more than 150 international artists in China, contributing to the growth of the Chinese dance music scene.

Highlights include editions of the UK-born festival Creamfields festival in China (Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai), Hong Kong, Taipei and Rangoon, and a two-night virtual festival with Asian DJs from its management company, Dancing Dragon, which attracted 220,000 fans in May.

“It is my great honour to join Live Nation Electronic Asia and be a part of the world’s leading live entertainment company,” says Zhou.

“With my industry knowledge and the company’s global network, I am confident we will be able to curate a series of unique music events and connect more fans with the world’s top artists, sharing electronic music culture in many more corners of the globe.”

 


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China conflict hits Indian production cos

Indian event businesses under pressure to boycott China are facing increased production costs for non-Chinese-made equipment.

Organisers of entertainment, corporate and other live events currently have a choice between buying event kit (sound, lighting, stages, trussing, etc.) at a higher cost from the US or Europe or continuing to purchase from a country widely regarded as public enemy no 1.

A third option – manufacturing these products in India – would require government support for the industry in the form of subsidies, says Modern Stage Service’s Pratik Wadhwa.

An influential, celebrity backed social-media campaign, launched in May, urges Indians to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the India–China border.

The most vicious fighting, in mid-June, saw an estimated 20 Indian and 43 Chinese soldiers lose their lives in melee combat in disputed areas of Kashmir; both sides, meanwhile, accuse each other of firing shots in a skirmish at the line of actual control (LAC) between the Indian territory of Ladakh and Chinese-occupied Tibet yesterday (7 September).

“Matching price with China will be difficult at present … but it is achievable in the long run”

India blames China for the incursions, and has even gone so far as to ban Chinese-owned mobile apps including TikTok and WeChat and Tencent-published Fortnite rival PUBG. The Chinese state-run Global Times accuses a nationalistic Indian media of inflaming tensions, warning that the press “must be reined in” if India wishes to avoid further conflict with Beijing.

Speaking to EventFAQs, Wadhwa, CEO of the New Delhi-based pro-AV distributor, explains: “95% of lighting and trussing, and all LED walls and LED TVs, are imported from China, [as is] cheaper audio equipment.

“The alternative to this is that either India needs to manufacture equipment or international companies have to start assembly lines in India. The Indian government will have to support this industry by giving subsidies.”

Santana Davis, the managing director of Bangalore’s J Davis Prosound & Lighting, adds: “My assumption is that a certain level of impact will surely be there on import of this equipment or materials from China if the current scenario between India and China doesn’t improve.

Davis notes that equipment imported from Western countries is “top-class”, but compared to a quality Chinese brand is “at least two or three times higher” in price.

Indians are urged to boycott Chinese products and companies in response to the ongoing military stand-off at parts of the border

Both Wadhwa and Shivam Singh of pro-AV company Shivam Videos say they plan to start manufacturing audiovisual equipment domestically.

“We have got back into manufacturing lights in India,” explains Wadhwa. “Matching price with China will be difficult at present, because they produce for the world, but it is achievable in the long run.”

“We have already planned […] to import parts from Taiwan, Japan or Korea and assemble them in India,” adds Singh. “Later, we are also planning to start manufacturing in India.

“We want to support our nation and be self-sufficient. We are ready to support ‘Make in India’. But for that we would need the government’s support as well, as setting up a manufacturing unit is not easy.”

 


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Rapid sell-out for Asia’s first post-Covid arena shows

Tickets for a series of four concerts featuring Taiwanese artist Eric Chou have sold out in a quarter of an hour, indicating demand is high for the region’s first arena shows since coronavirus restrictions began.

Chou is scheduled to perform on 8 and 9 August at the 15,350-capacity Taipei Arena and on 5 and 6 September at the 15,000-capacity Kaohsiung Arena, with tickets for all four Taiwan shows selling out in just 15 minutes after going on sale this weekend.

In Taiwan, the government lifted all limits on the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings, including cultural events, on 7 June, and removed the need for social distancing at concert halls and stadiums.

The concerts are the first to be held at the venues since coronavirus restrictions were put in place early this year.

A named ticket system is in place to facilitate track and trace at the shows, with fans asked to fill in their name and contact number on the ticket upon purchase, or just before entering the venue in the case of ticket transfers.

The restart of arena shows comes following the Taiwan ministry of culture’s issuing of 2.1 million electronic cultural vouchers, worth NT$600 (€18) each, for tickets to concerts, art exhibitions and other cultural events, or to buy items at venues or culture-focused shops.

Tickets for a series of four concerts featuring Taiwanese artist Eric Chou have sold out in a quarter of an hour

The NT$1.2 billion (€35.3m) programme aims to boost the cultural and arts sector and encourage people to attend cultural events as the Covid-19 situation subsides in Taiwan. The programme is expected to generate an estimated NT$5bn (€146.8m) for the sector.

Taiwan has been praised worldwide for its response to the coronavirus crisis. The country, which has a population of 23.78 million, has reported 455 cases of the virus and seven deaths.

Elsewhere in northeast Asia, Japan gave the go-ahead for 5,000-person indoor concerts earlier this month, although plans to remove an upper capacity limit at events altogether from 1 August may be halted due to a recent rise in infections.

Creativeman’s Supersonic festival – a replacement of its usual Summer Sonic event – is still scheduled to go ahead from 19 to 21 September in Tokyo and 19 to 20 September in Osaka, featuring acts including the 1975, Post Malone, Wu-Tang Clan, Liam Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, Black Eyed Peas, Kygo and Steve Aoki.

In South Korea, a recent spike in new cases in Seoul and neighbouring cities is hindering the resumption of large-scale events.

This week, a ban on events of over 5,000 people was put in place in the Sonpa district of Seoul, leading to the postponement of upcoming shows at the 15,000-capacity Olympic Gymnastics Arena, or KSPO Dome. Around 5,200 fans were expect to attend each of the 15 concerts planned for the arena in the next three weeks.

Photo: Gene Wang/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Venues closed as major cities go back into lockdown

Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has become the latest major live entertainment market to be put back into lockdown amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.

The re-imposition of lockdown restrictions for six weeks – which will see Melburnians permitted to leave their houses only for work, education, exercise or to buy essential supplies – follows a spike in Covid-19 infections in the state of Victoria, which as of 13.30 local time today (8 July) had recorded some 147 new cases over the past 24 hours.

The abrupt halt to Melbourne’s gradual reopening will come as a blow to nightlife businesses in the city. Speaking to the ABC, Guy Lawson, who owns Melbourne’s Napier Hotel, says he hopes the hotel survives the second shutdown but fears “a lot” of venues will not.

“The second round of lockdown will put on a huge amount of pressure for the industry. Once we are able to reopen, it will no doubt be under restrictions again for some time,” Adam Betts, co-owner of the city’s Bonny Bar, tells alcohol trade title the Shout.

“Needless to say, revenue will be right down when we reopen for many months,” he adds, “and the economy will be in a recession. With reduced revenue, we will also have an increase in costs as a double blow.”

In Spain, local lockdowns are in place in Catalonia and Galicia

The second lockdown in Melbourne follows similar restrictions aimed at containing a second wave of Covid-19 infections elsewhere in the world.

In Spain, local lockdowns in Catalonia and, more recently, Galicia are proving similarly difficult for venue operators; in Catalonia, in north-eastern Spain, around 400,000 people are subject to stay-at-home orders, while in the north-western region of Galicia gatherings are once more restricted to ten people, in a local lockdown that affects an area of 70,000 people. Capacity at bars and restaurants is also limited to 50%.

Federal Germany has also seen several areas, including the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, locked down after a spike in transmissions, with the English city of Leicester similarly currently subject to a local lockdown.

While music venues have yet to reopen in the UK, English bars, pubs and restaurants were permitted to reopen from Saturday 4 July. This, however, was not the case in Leicester, where residents face fines of up to £3,200 for repeatedly breaching stay-at-home orders.

As in Gütersloh, there is resentment in Leicester – home to around 330,000 people – that the rest of the country is being allowed to open up while their city is left behind. “It shows they have neglected Leicester,” resident Dhansukh Rana tells the Market Correspondent.

According to Leicester’s Curve Theatre, the 902-seat performing arts venue is losing £25,000 a day as a result of lockdown restrictions.

In China, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside any one venue

Several US states, meanwhile, have been reintroducing restrictions as the country heads towards three million confirmed Covid-19 cases. A recent survey by the newly formed National Independent Venue Association found 90% of its members say, in the absence of government support, they will be forced to close permanently if the lockdown lasts six months or longer.

In contrast, China – where the coronavirus outbreak began in late 2019 – has “largely return[ed] to normalcy: restaurants, hotels and bars are open, and domestic travel has been loosened up so business people are able to travel around China now,” according to hospitality expert Ian Ford. The most recent local lockdown in China ended on Saturday (4 July), with residents of areas of Beijing judged “low risk” once again allowed to travel around the country without having to be first tested for Covid-19.

However, according to  the Chinese ministry of culture and tourism’s most recent reopening guidelines for indoor venues (including theatres, clubs and karaoke venues), that return to normality comes with several stipulations, including a two-hour time limit for customers.

According to the consumer protection section of the new guidelines, translated by Caixin, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside any one indoor venue.

Additional restrictions include limiting entertainment venues to 50% of their normal capacity, while theatres are restricted to 30% and must leave at least one seat empty between every two people (ie ‘chequerboard seating’).

According to Caixin, the release of the guidelines on 22 June sparked heated debate among Chinese netizens: Some social media users argued that the two-hour time limit may actually backfire by speeding up the flow of customers, while others questioned how such a time limit could be strictly enforced.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Chinese, Korean entertainment giants unite for benefit show

Chinese entertainment agency Freegos Entertainment and Korean media platform KVLY are organising a livestreamed benefit concert dubbed We Are The World 2020, scheduled to take place on 30 April.

The charity concert takes a similar format to that of Global Citizen’s recent One World: Together at Home show, with artists performing from different locations around the world.

According to the Korea Times, the state-affiliated China Benevolent General Association is inviting Korean record labels to take part in the concert, which could see Korean content appear on online platforms in China for the first time since 2016.

The event will be broadcast live on YouTube and Chinese streaming platforms, featuring acts including Taiwanese musician Jay Chou, Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung and G-Dragon of the K-pop band BigBang.

The charity concert takes a similar format to that of the recent One World show, with artists performing from different locations around the world

The concert takes its name from the 1985 charity single We Are The World, co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and recorded by ‘supergroup’ USA for Africa. The single was performed live at Live Aid that same year.

Viewers will be able to donate in real-time during the concert to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund and Korean welfare institution, the Community Chest of Korea.

The New Straits Times reports that the event has received investment from NetEase Music, one of China’s leading music platforms, and cosmetics and media commerce company VT GMP, known for its work on the BTS perfume.

Other sponsors reportedly include Chinese Association of Performing Arts and the Chinese Charity Foundation.

Photo: Gene Wang/Flickr (CC BY  2.0) (cropped)

 


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