For any musicians, to write a meaningless song is like talking to a soulless body. Everything becomes dull and flat at the end. Therefore, in order to make a music video go viral, creativity is the core of a music video, especially right now when we are all living in a society surrounded by social media. The music need from the young generation is what drives the writers and different platforms to create new contents. For instance, NetEase Music upgraded their music video part to the front page in its new App, and Xiami Music has done the similar optimization to its music video function.
It is important for any platform to improve their level of creativity to attract more users and make the users stay. Having a stable foundation of users can also help in optimizing their business model. For musicians, music videos is great way for their fans to get to know a different side of them. And for the fans and users, music videos make them enjoy the music via a different sense and understand how songs are made.
How can a music video attract those young generations who are immune to all kinds of crazy new things? What do these millenniums like? To answer these questions, we invited 3 experienced practitioners from the music industry to this year’s Small Antler Music Business Expo. They are Beibei Guo, the lead vocal of indie band Luxiansen and founder of School Through Music, Linhai Deng, the senior chief of Tencent Music Video Center, and Minshu Jia, an experienced producer and the president of StreetVoice. They are here to discover what the young generations truly like about music video.
Beibei Guo is the lead vocal of indie band Luxiansen and the founder of School Through Music. He has organized hundreds of school performances, published 9 albums for different school bands and musicians, and helped many great musicians graduate from a school band to a real professional in the industry. In August 2015, Guo founded indie band Luxiansen with its wildly spread signature song “Chun Feng Shi Li”. In 2017, Guo toured with his band around China and every concert he held was sold out.
Linhai Deng is the current senior chief of Tencent Music Video Center and an experienced media practitioner. He worked for multiple radios such as MusicRadio, Beijing People’s Radio, etc. He was also the editor of Audiovisual World Magazine and Music Space Magazine. When working as an editor, he wrote a lot of interview reports and comments about different genres of music. He also was part of many album productions, shows and music events. Deng was also the judge of many TV programs such as Chinese Music Media Awards, MIDI Music Awards, Top Chinese Music, etc.
Minshu Jia is an experienced music producer, indie music promoter, and Simple Life festival producer. As one of the most well-known music producers in the industry, he has produced for many well-known Chinese artists such as Sandy Lam, Karen Mok, Mayday, Wu Bai, Zhao Chuan, Wakin Chau, etc. The president of Simple Life Festival Zongsheng Li, founder Peiren Zhang and Minshu Jia brought a unique and authentic festival to their fans with original booths and simple music. As the president of StreetVoice, Jia is also involved in Yinchuan Harvest Carnival and Hangzhou West Lake Music Festival. StreetVoice provides artists easy-set-up web pages and apps for publishing original tunes, sponsors tours, manages publishing brand “Pai Ge”, and produces The Next Big Thing with Tencent Video since 2016.
CMBN: What’s the keyword of your 2017? Why?
Guo: I would say my 2017 is all about enriched and fulfilled. My team finished everything on our agenda for 2017 which is very fulfilling. To me, 2016 was a year of pioneer and 2017 is the year to expand and develop. I kept performing, touring, improving my brand and my new music. As for the word “enriched”, all of the departments on our team have gotten a lot more mature and I’m very satisfied.
Jia: I’d use the word “fit” to describe my 2017. I have always been doing music related works. Sometimes things go too fast but other times it’s difficult to have complicated jobs finished which make the process very slow. But I think everything fits. I feel very comfortable working in this field. As long as every part of the big picture is growing in some way, it’s good.
Deng: To me I would say it’s “overthrown”. Here’s an example. There has already been some live streaming business going on since a couple years ago. However, by the end of 2015, some of them could not hold up the business anymore and some companies went out of business completely. So when I got back to this business in 2017, I started to think about whether we made the right decisions on some of the things we did before. We had data for support but everything seems to fall apart overnight as if they were never there. No one was paying attention to the things that used to attract so many people. It was scary.
CMBN: What do you think of the changes in the music video industry for the past two years?
Guo: The audience nowadays is much younger, therefore they would need more creativity in the music content. I mean, young generation people tend to want more of the pop entertainment culture. But the music videos we have now are not reaching the quality. Those videos that are very funny lack of real content while the ones that have quality content don’t have enough humor. There’s a great potential for these videos to grow one way or the other and get better. On top of that, those videos that are unique will attract even more audience.
CMBN: As a platform, how did you discover the focal point of a new content from your users and how did you keep their interests?
Deng: First of all we have to stick to our judgment on how to pick the contents. The reason that we did The Next Big Thing with Jia was based on our judgment. We found some young people who could represent the most current pop culture and are willing to speak up. They either have a strong will to speak up or have a spirit to create. These people will always be the pioneers no matter where they go. Also, we will filter the content and save only the thing that is lively and aspiring. Although new things come up in the industry all the time, we as a platform focus on how to use these new content to serve our users and how can the audiences have the most fun from these content. This kind of thinking helps us when we make a decision about what to bring.
Jia: I always think about where the future holds when I think about the young people nowadays and their creativity. Musicians in today’s era need to have the ability to create while being able to connect to the pop culture and living style. When we were organizing all the offline events, we noticed that the bar has been raised high for young people’s taste and standard on music, which makes this entire industry more alive. If you can provide a young musician a high standard environment for him to create music freely, he would really catch the essence of his music and give you the best product after taking all the necessary small steps.
CMBN: Do you all have any demand for working with artists?
Jia: I don’t usually have any quantified demand or requirement before I work with another artist because I think everyone has their own private experience. Although this industry is facing a new time when a lot of the things are being separated and categorized, I wouldn’t want to mimic the western method to quantify these things. To me personally, I would like to know whether this artist incorporates a specific music writing time into his or her daily schedule, or how creative he or she can be with writing music. I also hope the artist I’m working with can really put himself into the work of music writing and puts out his best attitude. We need to know how to feed into the current music trend when we work with different artists. The artists would want to collaborate if we are the ones who control the quality and creativity of the music to a high standard.
Guo: For us, we really value someone who has a foundation of self-aesthetic. I think it’s the same for young musicians. Some of them write songs based on their lives. They explore their career possibilities and build their products through this down-to-earth music. There are others who’d get out of their comfort zone to observe life and write about what they see. Same for music videos. There are various ways to portrait these contents. We would most likely discover those music videos that fit the purpose or the theme of the music. We also watch a lot of these unique videos to learn from the feedbacks and get better.
CMBN: My next question is for Mr. Deng. You have been doing media and video for many years. I remember you saying that the demassification in the music industry is getting more obvious, and then you talked about trendy music. Why are you so confident about trendy music and how do you define trendy?
Deng: To me, the word trendy is a paradox. What you believe is trendy is what’s trendy. Before we had Internet, people have to break many barriers to get in touch with whatever is outside of their comfort zone. They had limited access to so many cool things out there. Now all these young people have all kinds of ways to be in touch with the pop culture anywhere in the world. So it doesn’t matter if it’s called trendy music or pop music, the essence of it is the kind of music that the young generation loves. These people are so sensitive to the trend, I mean how can they not be when they live in such a media-heavy society. Therefore if I were building a platform, I would definitely focus on these trendy music or pop music for the young generation.
CMBN: What kind of music video do you think most of the young people are consuming currently?
Deng: I think there are two things we need to think about. The first one is the media carrier of the music videos and the capacity of this carrier. The second would be the creativity and uniqueness of the videos themselves, like whether it’s special enough to be spread widely. If you ask me which specific content will attract more people, I can’t say I know the answer. But what I can tell you for sure is that as long as your video is unique, or has a special delivery with independent content, your video will be very popular for a long time. How you deliver your ideas across the platforms is also very important. It should be based on your music content.
△ Minshu Jia
Jia: I think it depends on how you express yourself. All good music has its own character. It might be very easygoing, or very harsh. All these characters are what make a piece of music special. Self-expression is one of the biggest features of what young people do right now, therefore I believe musicians must know how to express themselves in a special way to attract audiences. If you are able to lead the trend and affect others with your music, then your impact will grow much bigger. To me, this is the core of music writing. A good musician creates music that makes himself distinct from others, and this is an ability we look forward to the most from a musician.
Guo: I can’t agree more. I think to be able to express oneself is very important especially for the young artists today. Everybody has their own perspective to the world. Although we all have learned many different types of knowledge, we weren’t taught about how to think critically and form our own opinions. Therefore many people are stuck in one set of perspective and value, not knowing how to express their own unique ideas. The reason why some of the music contents can be so popular is that they insist on following their own unique ideas. This is an ability that can’t get stolen from other.
Translated by Paris Wu
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