In recent years, indie music has walked towards the public along with a series of indie musician promoting and supporting projects. They are implemented simultaneously online and offline. Online projects include Light-searching (by Xiami Music) and Golden Wool (by Douban). Converse’s Love Noise and RedBull’s New Energy Music Project are offline projects. Do those plans really help indie musicians walk towards the public? What are the effects? What are the final trend and result?
Light-searching by Xiami Music
On July 11th, 2013, Xiami musician platform officially launched. It recruited musicians all over the nation. Those who passed audits acquired the identity of Xiami Musicians which guarantees the right to upload Demo and release album at any time. A year later, Xiami recruited 5,000 musicians and 100,000 music works in totally, followed by a musician developmental project called Light-searching.
This project collected music works from all musicians who registered on Xiami. It offered a window for musicians to submit their works. From 2014-2015, Xiami selected the best musicians from all the works that were received and helped them release their own albums.
On July 21st, 2014, Xiamu published the first album with Light-searching Project. It was named Light-searching Collection, which rated 9.2 score on Xiami. Meanwhile, it was the first internet album in China, which contained songs from 19 Xiami musicians. The album contianed two parts. The first part included songs from 9 experienced musicians — Escape Plan, Miserable Faith, Li Ronghao, Moxizishi, The LifeJourney, Haomeimei, Sound Toy and Carrchy. The second part collected music works from 10 new musicians – Tang Xu, Zhan Pan, Qiu Bi, Joe & CC, Buqishu, Du Kun, Spice, fifirong, Mr. Graceless, and Jin Wenqi.
Then, Light-searching Project started to release 15 individual albums, including You’re Always There by Joe & CC, I Want to Spend Time With You by Chen Bi, The Song of Yan by Yan Chi, as well as Sound Toy’s Love is Expensive which was awarded the Midi prize. Doubtlessly, Light-searching Project contributed a lot to indie musicians. Fifteen albums in one year could be compared with the output of labels.
In general, indie musicians have two basic pursues in their music career. One is to do their favorite music, and the other is hoping that their music can earn money. These are also the standards to judge whether the project is successful or not.
First of all, we know that the difference between indie musicians and traditional artists who sign with labels is that the former enjoy more freedom. They don’t have business pressure from labels.
Today, young people have started to avoid business. They want to see characteristics of musicians. In this view, the time provides certain premises for Light-searching Project, which allows it offering the largest freedom for musicians while supporting them.
After producing their favorite music, another problem is money. Musicians can set the price for their works on Xiami. However, with the rapid development of the Internet, physical sale is largely effected. Domestic copyright awareness just bud and paid digital music is still in the process of forming. Therefore, all albums that are born in Light-searching Project could not bring musicians enough revenues.
However, we cannot judge whether it is totally useless or not. When considered in assorted aspects, albums that were born in Light-searching Project are of the most personalized and excellent in Chinese indie music circle. Since its launch, Xiami has attracted tens of millions of registered users. With Light-searching Project going on, huge amount of users saw the title every day, which advised for musicians. It not only helps them to return back but also form the first group of fans. Meanwhile, it optimize what the available effect of advertisements.
After the promotion, Light-searching Project started to sponsor tours for musicians. The advantage of promotion in the early period is possibe to contribute to the results. Musicians can earn money during the tour. The problem is how much they could earn. However, one thing for sure is that Xiami offered valuable help to Light-searching Project. At least, the name of Yan Chi is written in Baidu Baike with many views.
But we also know that either Light-searching Project on Xiami or Chinese copyright awareness has reached to a visible effect. The principle of Light-searching Project is to offer financial support to indie musicians and to help them produce music. However, if their efforts are not paid back, Light-searching Project would lose money. Whether it will continue to help indie musicians is unknown.
Golden Wool by Douban
In 2015, Douban entered music industry and founded its own digital music brand – “D Force Music”. It aims to provide musicians with more effective copyright service. Douban initiated a Golden Wool Project through D Force Music. Any musician registered on Douban could apply to join this project. Douban would reply with a statement – something similar to contract. Musicians have to authorize to Douban in a non-exclusive way. When they successfully join in, their works can launch on hundreds of music platforms in 239 countries, including Apple Music, iTunes, Goolge Play, Amazon Music and Spotify. Now, there are more than 3,000 musicians in this project.
The most important point is that it crates revenues when their music is played by users. One thousand plays equals to one RMB. Douban music will pay musicians regularly through PayPal or bank accounts. In the perspective of profits, the mode is doubtlessly attractive to musicians. Douban not only focuses on domestic but also oversea market.
The relationship between Douban and musicians is similar to that between a work owner and a publisher. They are independent but connected through the Internet. Qualified works could gain royalties. The process is direct and transparent.
In fact, Golden Wool Project and Light-searching Project are complementary, because Xiami helps indie musicians to produce and release albums in China while Golden Wool Project assists musicians to put their music online globally.
In this way, we could assume that a supporting project with “light-searching + golden wool”. Xiami Music makes up the inefficiency on music producing while Douban contributes to profits. Of course, this is only an assumption. Chinese indie music is still developing. It needs the cooperation between musicians and audiences.
Now, Xiami and Douban are two platforms with the largest supports for original indie musicians. Except for them, Netease, Weibo, Baidu and QQ Music also launched its original musician platforms. They have different advantages and characteristics, and offers musicians certain assistance through various ways.
From this point, a “nationwide musician” activity is on-going throughout the Internet. However, musician-supporting projects are not limited online, but there are assorted offline events. Of course, it means supporting non-mainstream music, and emphasizing offline musician promotion activity before business.
Love Noise by Converse
Early in 2008, Converse sponsored and initiated a rock touring event named Love Noise, which was made into a documentary film of the same name. It invited Queen Sea Big Shark and PK14 as the spokesmen to tour 5,768 km across five cities. If someone ask whether those two bands acquired financial rewards in this event, the answer is no after watching the documentary of Love Noise.
In 2008, the famous album with the same name of Wan Qing was not published. Queen Sea Big Shark just released their first album, and PK14’s music still confused a lot of audiences though being fresh to the majority. For the two bands, the true meaning is that they got exposed during the touring. While the documentary was played in Converse’s retail shops in the nation, everyone walked into the shop knew Queen Sea Big Shark and PK14.
In this view, two bands received certain benefits, though they didn’t gain revenue. As a sponsor, Converse only needed to contact with Livehouses in five cities for bands, and to rent a bus as well as to pay for accommodations (We recalled that bands seemed to live in the bus, so Converse didn’t need to pay for accommodation fees). Then it hired a photography team. All these were only a fraction of costs to Converse. Meanwhile, the company also consolidated its brand.
All factors combined, Love Noise is a pleasant cooperation between business brand and indie music. Though there were only two bands and five cites, it was quite brave at that time. In some aspects, it’s one of the most directive support from business brand to indie musicians.
New Energy Music Project by RedBull
The idea of focusing on original indie musicians is proved to be useful today. More and more business brands start to connect with music, and support original indie musicians in various methods. For example, RedBull initated New Energy Music Project to provide a window for indie musicians in the country. All musicians could submit their songs and the organizer would selected some to start tourings. Later, RedBull would organize a Phenomenon Festival and end with a concert called The Night of Peak.
Of course, this event couldn’t provide instant profits to indie musicians. But visibility is the most important foundation. Most people don’t know that RedBull is a Thai brand. Its “long line fishing” method is a certainty on the potential of Chinese indie music. Last year, new names such as Suffocate and Twisted Machine emerged in New Energy Music Project. Those were famous within the circle but hardly known by outsiders. Today, numerous business brands support indie musicians. Levis initiates an indie musician project called Nao Music, while Vans begins to sponsor Midi Music Festival.
With comprehensive factors combined, both online and offline, audiences and business brands gradually give up mainstream music and pay attention to indie music. The operation mode in music industry is changing. Indie musicians have far more opportunities. Therefore, we know that China does not lack musicians. The problem is that we usually limit our eyesight to a certain area. Now, most musician support projects are going to break bud. It’s hard to estimate whether all plants will success immediately. However, they at least make up some loopholes for Chinese indie music. Their potential would enter an outbreak in future.
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