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Modern Sky streams festivals for housebound fans

Modern Sky, China’s biggest festival promoter, streamed past editions of its Strawberry Music Festival to fans forced to stay indoors by the coronavirus outbreak.

At the time of writing, more than 900 people have died in mainland China from the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which emerged in the city of Wuhan in December 2019. Fears over the virus have led to the cancellation of a number of concerts in China and east/south-east Asia, with other public events also affected.

The video streams kicked off last Tuesday (4 February) and feature past performances from Strawberry festivals in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Changchun. The streams began at 4pm local time and ran until 10pm, broadcast on Bilibili, one of China’s most-visited anime, comics and games (ACG) sites.

“We hope it can bring an element of fun, happiness and peace of mind to those affected”

In addition to the Strawberry Music Festival replays, the Bilibili streams included famous artists live-streaming their lives while staying at home during the outbreak.

Ryan Zhang, general manager of international business at Modern Sky and founder/producer of Sound of the Xity, told IQ last week: “This is a difficult time for many and so we’re streaming content from previous Strawberry Music Festivals, and some of our artists are broadcasting from their own homes with the message of, ‘Hi, I am at home, too.’

“The content is spread over five days, since Tuesday, six hours a day. It is, of course, not a profit-making endeavour – rather we hope it can bring an element of fun, happiness and peace of mind to those affected.”

 


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Beijing’s music industry to be worth $17bn by 2025

The Beijing municipal government has unveiled plans to position the city as an “international music capital”, aiming for revenue from the Chinese capital’s music and related industries to reach ¥120 billion (US$17.2bn) by 2025.

The city, which generated ¥60bn, or $8.6bn, from its music industry in 2017 according to government officials, is to become the “global centre of Chinese music”.

The proposal calls for Beijing to build more small-sized live music venues, offer artists better copyright protections and increase development of its digital music industry.

The government guidelines also encourages innovation in music technology, including AI composition and “musical emotional recognition”. Separate plans will now be drawn up for the implementation of the policy.

According to a recent report by the China Music Industry Forum, the country’s music industry was worth more than ¥370bn ($53bn) in 2019, up 8% year-on-year.

“Interest in the local market has skyrocketed in recent years”

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, has also been designated an “international music capital” by the government.

Kyle Bagley, owner of Chinese music industry marketing agency Groove Dynasty, told the South China Morning Post that government support could greatly benefit local musicians.

“Interest in the local market has skyrocketed in recent years, and with the success of the country’s home-grown music streaming platforms and growth in the live music sector, an initiative like this could help bring more money and stability to the budding industry, and increase interest from overseas in a major way,” says Bagley.

Dave Pichilingi, CEO of the UK and US division of Chinese entertainment company Modern Sky, is another to note the international potential for the Chinese music market. Speaking to IQ in July, Pichilingi said the level of opportunity is “especially huge” in China, although it currently remains “a relatively untapped marketplace” internationally.

Tencent, a leader in the Chinese entertainment and tech space, last week led a consortium in the acquisition of a 10% in Universal Music Group, in a deal which valued UMG at €30bn.

 


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Sound City boss Pichilingi heads up Modern Sky USA

Dave Pichilingi, who launched Modern Sky UK in 2016, is expanding his role to take over operations at the company’s US division.

In his new role as chief executive UK and North America, Pichilingi will divide his time between Modern Sky’s Liverpool and London-based UK office, and the company’s Los Angeles home.

Founded by LiHui Shen in 1997, Modern Sky Entertainment is a multi-faceted entertainment company, operating across live, recording, publishing and video. Modern Sky is the largest independent record label in China and promotes music festivals in the country, under the banner of Strawberry Festivals and MDSK.

Pichilingi launched Modern Sky UK along with LiHui Shen as part of a partnership with Sound City, of which Pichilingi is founder and chief executive. Sound City is the company behind music conferences and showcase festivals in Liverpool, Manchester, New York and Seoul.

In his new role, Pichilingi will look to generate opportunities for Modern Sky’s Chinese repertoire for sync and publishing.

The Sound City boss will also work with US brands in conjunction with Modern Sky’s festival portfolio and video and streaming platform MNOW, which has over 42 million subscribers and an in-built ticketing service.

“We [Modern Sky] believe we’ve got the best pipeline for western businesses looking to make headway in the Asian market”

“Modern Sky is in a fairly unique position as the custodian of a large, excellent Chinese music catalogue, particularly in hip hop, contemporary folk, electronic and guitar genres,” says Pichilingi. “We’re seeing a big increase in the demand for Chinese repertoire and want to generate new opportunities for our artists.

“As far as working with brands in the US is concerned, we believe we’ve got the best pipeline for western businesses looking to make headway in the Asian market and communicate with a large, engaged and targeted young audience with plenty of disposable income and a keen interest not just in western music but in lifestyles and wider pop culture as well.”

Talking to IQ ahead of his promotion, Pichilingi discussed the potential of the Chinese music market, stating that approximately 550 million people consume popular music in the country.

“The level of opportunity in Asia in general is huge,” Pichilingi told IQ, “and it is still a relatively untapped marketplace.”

 


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Becky Ayres promoted to Sound City MD

After six years as chief operating officer, Becky Ayres has been appointed managing director of Sound City.

Ayres, who has been involved with the festival since 2008, succeeds outgoing MD Dave Pichilingi, who will now focus his energies fully on Modern Sky, the Chinese entertainment powerhouse which bought into Sound City in April 2016.

She moves into her new job earlier this summer, and is tasked with leading and growing the Sound City brand, which incorporates the annual Liverpool Sound City festival and Sound City+ conference and several international projects, including Sound City Korea.

“I’m excited to become the MD of Sound City, having been fortunate to work on it since it started and to be part of the creation of many exciting projects along the way,” says Ayres, who became COO in 2012. “Dave has always been very supportive of me and I’m grateful to him and his vision that has led us to where we are now and taken us from Liverpool and out into the whole world.

“I’m humbled that he has put this faith in me, and I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team who will be part of the next stage of the journey.”

“I am absolutely confident that she will guide the company though the next ten years”

Pichilingi adds: “Since we signed our global equity and strategy deal with Modern Sky, I am now more focused on the records, publishing and wider entertainment side of the business. With this in mind I decided it was time to allow someone else to take the lead on Sound City.

“Becky has been with Sound City since the very start of the journey. She knows our brand and core philosophy better than anyone. Sound City has never been scared to take on new challenges and formats, [and] in the safe hands of Becky and our absolutely dedicated team I am absolutely confident that she will guide the company though the next ten years.

“We are a tight-knit family and we will continue to work together across both Sound City and Modern Sky to deliver the best outcomes for artists and business talent from the north [of England], the UK and globally.”

Liverpool Sound City, whose sold-out 10th anniversary in May attracted 7,000 festivalgoers and 2,000 industry delegates, returns to the city’s Baltic Triangle on 3–5 May 2019.

Ayres spoke to IQ last month about Sound City Korea, which she says capitalises on a “voracious” appetite for British music in east Asia.

 


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Liverpool Sound City attracts Chinese backers

Liverpool Sound City today announced a new partnership with Modern Sky Entertainment, after the Chinese indie music firm acquired Ingenious Media’s equity stake in the festival.

However, it appears the partnership was brokered more than four months ago, with news outlet China Music Radar reporting the investment as far back as 22 December, 2015. The fact that both Liverpool Sound City and Modern Sky’s Sound Of The Xity in Beijing happen within a matter of weeks might be the reason behind the latest press release.

As China’s largest independent record label, Modern Sky also runs the Strawberry Music Festival, which took place in more than 12 cities around China during 2015. With divisions in nearly every part of the music business chain, Modern Sky also opened the first of its own venues last year, Modernsky Lab in Beijing.

“The city of Liverpool is the birthplace of the music that influenced our growing years.”

Shen Li Hui, founder, Modern Sky Entertainment

Modern Sky founder Shen Li Hui says: “The city of Liverpool is the birthplace of the music that influenced our growing years. Liverpool Sound City is a hugely interesting and very diverse music festival. Coming in partnership with Sound City is a great first step for Modern Sky venturing overseas.”

He adds, “The founder of Sound City, David Pichilingi, has a great deal of experience and we can learn a lot from him and his team. We also believe that Sound City will be a new platform to open the European market up for Chinese music talents.”

For his part, Pichilingi states, “This partnership is an exciting new step for Sound City. Shen Li Hui is a truly inspirational individual. He has built Modern Sky into a huge and credible name. More importantly he has done this by working with artists in an ethical and moral way that recognises the ownership and commercial importance of their intellectual property.”