There’s almost little news can be found on the internet about Huang Qingyuan. Finally, we found something about him via an activity promoting video. In the video, he was sitting by a table with his hands politely putting on his knees, talking in an appropriate speed. Before, I thought he was a very serious person, because he was one of the producers of the most famous pop singer—Zhang Xueyou. However, my impression had been totally changed when we first met each other face to face. “Have you had your meal yet?” He greeted warmly. From the next interview session, he also reacted very active and talkative.
This is the tenth year that he chose to settle in Beijing. He’s the true witness of Taiwan pop music’s prosperity and descending in the 90s. Plus, he’s also the producer of Cai Qin, Tong Ange, Liu Dehua, Cao Meng and other A-lists in Taiwan. The top albums, such as <Blessing>, <Love and Sadness>, <Lost Love Alliance> were all produced by him.
When Taiwan music industry was on the wane, he came to Beijing to go on his music career as his other fellows.
“At first, I came here because of a friend of mine. He’s a singer and at that time he asked me to help him for his new album. After that, I thought I might stay here for a little longer, half a year more. But now, ten years has been passed.” he recalled the memories when he first came to Beijing. Initially, before he came to Beijing he was worked for a record company in Shanghai for two years. In his point of view, Shanghai is quite similar as Taiwan, and he was looking for something new and fresh. At last, he chose Beijing to go on his music career.
Rock music had great influence on his music. In the 90s, rock music reached Taiwan. Rock stars, e.g. Cui Jian, Tang Dynasty, Panther, Magic Stone Three, was lit up a big fire in Taiwanese’s hearts. Huang was one of them. He was strongly moved by the feelings that rock music brought to him. ROUGH, REAL and VITAL made him fall in love with this music style.
At that time, there were also a large number of rock bands in Taiwan. Some signed with companies, some not. Huang was a producer in a record company under the traditional music system. He said, “The market of music industry was quite small in Taiwan. Band members hardly make living by performance or writing songs. Thus, a lot of bands choose to come to inner China for more opportunities and better development in career.”
Even though Huang has already settled in Beijing for many years, he’s still quite caring about Taiwan rock bands. When mentioned the most promising band in Taiwan nowadays–Grass East No Party, he was extremely excited, “when I first listened to their songs, I was quite proud. Watching their performance, you can easily tell that they almost have no pressures, and perform freely and naturally on stage. Unlike some other pop stars, they are not self-dramatizing or posing at all.”
Also, he cares about the young people in music industry and their future. He also expressed one of his worries, that the eagerness for quick success and instant benefits that young people shown nowadays is not good for their long-term development in their music career. He also indicated his strong willing to have an educational job related to music and he said, “Musicians like us would all like to provide platforms to help these young on this way, and encourage them to communicate with each other, learn from each other or cooperate with each other to improve their music abilities.”
COOPERATION was been mentioned many times in our talks. From his point of view, he believes a masterpiece is generated due to the endeavor of the whole team, from singers to producers and the other roles. He also stated, “Smart artists know this, and they know their success should be attributed to the whole team not him/her self. Youngers should bear this strongly in mind! ”
When the interview nearly ended, I gave the blessing words as usual, however his response moved me so much. He said, “I will not get retired until I can’t do this job any longer!”
CMBN: Taiwan pop music had great influence on music in mainland China. However Taiwan music market is facing its wane now. Why is that happened?
Huang: As the matter of fact, it can’t be easily understood that Taiwan pop music is facing its wane now, since time has changed. Due to the large usage of internet, resources can be easily obtained from it. The income of the entity records has been largely declined. Hence, the capital of an album increases. However, nowadays the record company doesn’t want to afford this expense. Lots of the artists are reluctant to pay by themselves to make an album. Companies only take responsibility for the publishing part, which explains the enormous influence on the qualities of albums in the market now.
Before in Taiwan, the record companies are only responsible for the music part of an artist. They produce, publish and sell CDs or tapes. They share the copyright fee with the artist. Of course, the artists have their own talent agencies to help them with the commercial performance or advertisement stuff.
Since the record companies prior to invest singers whom have the potential to earn lots of money and no need to put in, people like us are not their type. They think we’re too expensive. Actually, charge for hiring us has never changed. So a lot of musicians or producers left Taiwan for better development and treatments.
I think one of the reasons of Taiwan pop music market descending is the market is not able to catch the most outstanding resources. The talent producers or singers leave here for better development. Fewer and fewer young men want to join this career. Besides, people who just graduated from colleges are lack of gifts or concentration on music nowadays. Taiwan pop music is truly in recession now,another significant reason is musicians or artists can find more opportunities in mainland China, and the incomes are quite attractive there.
CMBN: In recent years, some Taiwan indie bands are quite popular around mainland China, e.g. Grass East No Party, why is that you think?
Huang: Initially, indie bands exist all the time. Due to their unique music style, they are not well known by most of the eople. At present, internet helps them a lot. Some bands upload their music on internet and win a lot of fans online. Since music lovers in mainland China are much more than that in Taiwan, the bands can win more fans there, which quite surprised me at the beginning.
When I first listened to Grass East, their strong vitality in the songs impressed me a lot. Frankly speaking, I think their success is attributed to their extraordinary music itself. Another reason is, just like I mentioned before, the widely-used internet helps them a lot. It helped their music to be heard all over the world, not just in Taiwan. The taste of music of listeners in mainland China is quite high to some extent.
I think one of the remarkable features of Taiwan indie music is NATURAL. The singers on the stage would not pose to sing or act too intimate with the audience. Their performing style is quite same as the rock style. Perhaps, Grass East’s song can’t be regarded as the most melodic song, but it makes people feel quite comfortable and free when listening to their music.
Before Grass East has been well known, they hardly have performing opportunities, since the sponsors prefer A-lists more than indie bands. Hence I’m quite afraid that, a few indie bands would choose to sign with record companies for more performing opportunities, and change their unique music style to cater the taste of the market.
CMBN: Can you give any points of view about the future of original music in mainland China?
Huang: We almost have no choice at our time. Without internet the only way to spread our music is to cooperate with record companies as a producer. Fortunately, I was chosen to be a producer inPolygram, which is the largest scaled and most well-known record company in the 90s (Polygramwas taken over byUniversal Music Groupin 1999). Tong An-ge and Zhang Haozhe are all signed singers ofPolygram. In the record company, you have to work very hard, or might be fired if no effort is generated.
The competition was quite fierce at that time. If you want your music published, the only way is to cooperate with the singers your company matched for you. Or you would be sifted out soon. How harsh you can imagine under that atmosphere. However, great music pieces are generatedunder that.
In all, internet helps the young musicians to spread their works to potential listeners. It brings disadvantages too. According to the convenience internet has brought to the artists, a few of them is losing their serious attitude on music day by day. Low-qualified albums and singles can be found everywhere. For listeners, they can’t find the albums they fond of with proper quality, which makes them quite disappoint to the music industry now.
Currently, young musicians eager to quick fame and money, and they don’t like to spend times on their songs. Plus, they’re lack of awareness of cooperation. The attraction of fame and money are too luxury that they don’t want to share with anybody else.
CMBN: For now, more and more musicians come to mainland China for better career development from Taiwan. Do you think it could help with the improvisation of music industry in mainland China?
Huang: I think it is a kind of cultural communication. Twenty years ago, when I first came to Beijing, the working style in recording studio was quite different from that in Taiwan. We used to go to America, Japan or Hong Kong for recording, since the working pace was almost the same as that in Japan or Hong Kong. It was a bit slower compared with that in U.S.
When you just began your work in this area, you would work as an apprentice instead of a producer for many years. Even with extraordinary talent, you would not allow to do the recording things at the beginning. You buy snacks and drinks for your colleagues instead, and which would last at least a year. Sometimes, some junior singers would like to try you for one or two songs. At this phase, A-lists are still impossible to show up in your studio. If you are failed in the first trail, your company has to pay the subsidy for you, which would largely influence your future career as a producer. In Taiwan, becoming a formal producer is quicker than that in Japan. In Japan, you would be trained to view or emulate of the recording work by a formal producer and after three years you might have the chance to practice by yourself.
Of course, it improves the music quality and the working efficiency in music industry of mainland China to some extent. Before a few musicians or producers came to Taiwan for studying the cutting-edge music production techniques. When they came back, they brought the latest techniques and freshest ideas, and applied into their works. Other musicians had noticed the changes of their work and would like to simulate them too. In this way, level of music production has gradually improved in every aspect.
The only thing we offered for the colleagues in mainland China is the method of doing music not the content. To be honest, music production techniques in mainland China are exceedingly good at present.
CMBN: Any points of view about the copyright in mainland China?
Huang: Last year, music copyrights had been adjusted by the government. The whole environment is getting better and better, which has largely encouraged young people to devote more. In our time, we have almost no income from the copyrights of our own songs.
Nevertheless, one of the inferiors is copyright of a song is monopolized by one music stream media now, which means you only can find your favorite ones in a specific website, e.g. Baidu, QQ Music. As a matter of fact, it is totally unfair. I think it should be accessed to all the channels.
Another phenomenon can’t be ignored is a lot of songs are pirated by KTV. Several versions of a song can be found in a KTV, and most of them are even not paid by the manager. The worst is, this seems to be acquiesced by the government. In some KTVs, little money was paid for permanent usage, which is a sort of piracy as well.
In my other working experience, I was working as a staff to deal with the charging fee of the team copyrights before. If the copyright of a song is not able to find, charges should be paid to a specific organization which is established for dealing with music copyrights for using that song, which is quite similar as that in mainland China. If a song’s copyright belongs to a specific company, you need to pay the copyright fee according to the national standard proclaimed for usage.
Well, little money is paid for copyright in mainland China. The standardization needs to be complemented. The common situation is, one song has been used even without being paid or authorized for usage, or the music copyright organization charged the copyright fee without splitting with the copyright owners. These are all the problems of copyright in mainland China.
CMBN: Why do you think resource monopolization is unreasonable in music industry?
Huang: The aim of resource monopolization is to win more concerns in market, and it only works on the A-lists. For now, there are many songs generated every day, which means it is impossible to obtain all the resources. Even though spending large amount of money to win these resources, the outcome is quite limit. Different stream medium have different resources. However, for the listeners, the only thing they need to do is to download all the stream media apps for the music they want to listen to. Thus, resource monopolization is not a wise choice in music industry in general.
The core competitiveness of these music stream medium is the quality of contents, services and relevant music news they can offer to listeners. Another suggestion for them is to focus on one music style and make it better than any others, which would help a lot I think. To be honest, the monopolized behavior in music industry does nothing good on the future development to my point of view.
For the songwriters, it also do harm on them. For singers and record companies, they win benefits from the monopolized platform a lot, but for the songwriter they hardly get any benefits from the platform at all, which is quite unreasonable.
Another problem I’d like to discuss here is the performaning right of a song. Some artists don’t like other artists to do the covers of their songs, e.g. Wang Feng. However, I think if the covering singers would bring more benefits both for the original singers and the original songs, why not?
Plus, I think the original singer actually has no right to prohibit others to sing his/her songs. On the contrary, he/she should thank to the coving singers the popularity they bring to their original songs.
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