5 days, 35,000 square meters, Beijing Bird’s Nest Stadium, National Convention Centre, Olympic Park. Robots, intelligent hardware, VR / AR, music, design, mobile gaming, big data, mobile education, mobile healthcare, internet finance, intelligent cars, movie…
These are all the contents of the 2016 Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing. Unlike previous high-end Internet technology summits, GMIC includes not only high-end industrial summits, but also, according to the Internet big data, the GMIC X annual awards ceremony, as well as the highly anticipated “Temple Fair of Science and Technology”.
Yi said: “In the past, our summit was for the B-end side, which was splendid and classy. This time, we involved the ordinary people to make it really down-to-earth by integrating Internet big data, film, music and entertainment.”
On January 27, 2016, the GWC (Great Wall Club, which is a leading mobile internet business platform) held a grand press conference in Beijing. Their 5-day project surprised the entire audience. GWC also announced that they would establish a joint-venture company with Modern Sky.
Additionally, China Music Business News learned from them that this joint-venture company has a total investment of almost tens of millions of yuan, and that Modern Sky will account for 40% of shares while GWC will account for 60%. The company decided to hold the Temple Fair of Science and Technology on this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, and in the future, the company will finance and develop independently.
At the beginning, Yi just wanted to invite Lihui to guide his CXO band and didn’t expect to establish a joint venture with them.
Rock singer in the Science and Technology Circle Yi looks like a typical “tech nerd”, with a crew cut, T-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a simple and honest look. But he walks as fast as the wind, has a great sense of humor, and his shallow dimples appear when he laughs. In his spare time, Yi built a band called CXO in the technological entrepreneurs’ circle. Yi is the main vocalist and they will play on the opening show of this GMIC.
“Ah, we just started the rehearsals two days ago!” Yi, a screaming vocalist, sighs, a little bit embarrassed to mention the band’s rehearsal repertoire. His partner Lihui is ‘laughing at’ him: “What a band it is! They have a Wechat group to talk about eating and drinking, but never about rehearsal!”
Hao Yi waved his hand and replied, “We have all the resources a band needs except for the time. It’s not easy to gather everyone and even if do finally we get together, we really only want to eat and drink! We don’t have time to rehearse.”
According to his CV, Yi is currently a partner and the co-chairman of GWC. He got his Bachelor’s degree at York University in Toronto, Canada and his EMBA in Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business Administration. He has extensive international management experience and a good grasp of cross-border integration and operation. In 2004, Yi joined TCL as a vice president of TCL Group and the CEO of TCL Multimedia.
Yi always calls himself a rock singer no matter where he goes. During his work at TCL, people often joked, “Yi, you don’t look like a person that does TV; you look like someone who does MTV!”
Yi recalls, “Originally, I just started the band for fun. I played with both domestic and foreign heavy metal bands. But later I realized it’s impossible to make a living like that and gave up my dream of playing music.”
In 2009, Yi (then the CEO of TCL Multimedia) proposed the idea of “TV + Family entertainment television services”. “+” here meant adding entertainment, music, games, and lifestyle content into the original television industry. His strategy to transform television into entertainment was, ack then, ahead of its time.
After he joined GWC in October 2015, Yi began to think of ways to inject entertainment content into the high-end summits of science and technology. “The company has existed for seven years already. This year it should jump out and bring the charm of technology to ordinary people!”
Joint venture to build “China’s own South by Southwest”
This joint venture, fusing technology and music, has a precedent: the world’s largest creative festival of science and technology, “South by Southwest (SXSW)”.
SXSW was founded in 1987 and is located in Austin, Texas. It gradually expanded from music to movies, multimedia, and technology. Each year in March, start-ups and established brands around the world will flock to Austin, eager to show themselves. According to foreign reports, in 2015, SXSW contributed 317.2 million dollars in total to Austin’s economy. The audience expenditures alone from “SXSW Week” reached 60 million dollars.
With more than 2,200 music performances at SXSW, both superstars and potential talents have the opportunity to shine on stage. In the past, the hottest Internet start-ups, such as Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and Foursquare, have attracted VCs, medias and users through SXSW.
Yi attended SXSW this year to conduct research. “As we all know, the entertainment industry is growing quickly and we just need to see who looks fabulous and does well. It’s great to have different voices and lifestyles from the industry.”
“South by Southwest does a fantastic job mobilizing the entire economic output of Austin. Our cooperation with Modern Sky also intends to light up every corner of Beijing and every other city we go to. This is a great thing! Of course, by that time, the revenue will be of a larger magnitude,” said Yi.
In addition to Lihui and Yi, a lot of other people also want to copy the SXSW model in China. However, there are two obstacles in the market. First, in China, not only does the science and technology circle lack previous cooperation with the music industry, but China hasn’t even developed a strong music industry. Austin itself is a world-famous music city and live music culture has been deeply implanted into the American science and technology circle. Second, China also lacks cutting-edge technological
Yi said that it’s quite easy to put the music festival and technology together if we only want to copy the form from America. However, it’s difficult to have real integration. Lihui also told us that, in fact, it would be incredibly difficult to completely replicate the SXSW in China’s model. The music industry is still weak in China, but the technology industry is stronger, and that’s why we need local Chinese innovation.
So how do you “fuse the bloods” of technology and music? Lihui believes that GWC cannot accomplish it alone, but together with Yi’s musicality, the fusion is possible.
“He is always very excited, and he’s also a technology geek. He comes from a rocker background, so he has a hard-working, pioneer spirit.” laughed Lihui, “We are kindred spirits, except for his band. “
(Yi Hao,Co-founder of GWC)
Yi said: Let’s do it first! We’ll exchange DNA!
The following comes from the interview between China Music Business News and Hao Yi, the co-chairman of GWC.
I began to create the plan to restructure and redevelop GWC after I joined. At that time we talked about whether we should do something for the C-end. In the past, GWC aimed to build healthy environments for the science and technology circles from a technological perspective. There were many high-end summits for the B-end but not many for culture. So how could we bring culture into the fold?
I used to worship SXSW, but had never actually been. Usually I went to CES, MWC and other traditional electronic conferences. When Lihui spoke with me, I thought about whether could we could make an SXSW in the technology circle. After talking several times, sparks naturally emerged.
I’m still really a musician at heart, so I was quite strange in the TV industry at first. When I worked at TCL in 2009, people often joked, “Yi, you don’t look like you do TV; you look like you do MTV!” But I said, “the future of the TV industry will be doing TV the MTV way.’ When I said this, it was ahead of its time.
Sure enough in 2013, MI and LeTV started doing this. Now, we buy a TV not to watch the TV itself, but for the entertainment content inside. The most direct entertainment content is music, movies, games, and sports.
In China, music is music, geeks are geeks, and programmers are programmers. But they are all the same in foreign countries. My kid is three and a half. The second he hears music, he starts rocking out, and he gets excited whenever he sees a robot. These things are the same; they stimulate the same feelings in people.
I think science and technology isn’t fun by itself, and it needs to be integrated elsewhere to work. Music is a very important carrier that can excite everyone. We just want to disassemble both and rebuild something unique. This is probably the most difficult part, but I think we both have the same idea, and that can resolve the differences.
Music is an important part of GMIC, operating as a chemical reaction that links science and technology to its audience. Unlike the Strawberry Music Festival which targets young adults, the Technological Temple Fair is largely aiming for mothers and their children, so we have to define it as a ‘Temple Fair’. If the “Temple Fair of Science and Technology” can help children as young as five enjoy the great atmosphere of technology and music, then the children’s development paths will change. What a great thing!
Of course, it is easy to put technology and music side by side but it’s difficult to truly integrate them. What we do is not technology + background music, but the collision of the two genes. This requires us, regardless of the difficulty, to fuse the bloods of the two and exchange their DNA. It needs time, mutual understanding, and trial and error.
I believe that combining our strengths alone can produce important and meaningful things. TCL was the first one in the traditional TV industry to cooperate with Aiqiyi for “TV +”. The R&D teams of both sides worked together for five or six months, which demonstrates real, deep integration.
I particularly admire Mr. Shen because he has insisted for over a decade that this expansion for music is possible; he also has an international perspective, which is not particularly easy to understand, so I admire him. People are generally passionate about music, but Shen is definitely a business expert, which is a good thing. If Shen says something I fully trust him and can rest assured, since I don’t doubt his immense expertise.
We are professionals at creating large-scale conferences, and Modern Sky are professionals at creating big music festivals. We can make breakthroughs if we stick together.
We have produced a lot of innovation at this conference! In the past, we just searched for sponsors and relied on ticket sales. This time, we have sponsorships, booths, turnover, and network flow.
I’ll give an example of the network flow. A lot of companies hope theirs apps can get more downloads through the conference, so we designed a game. Anyone who is able to make four consecutive half-court shots in basketball will receive an electric bicycle. However if you want to participate, you must download the app first. Time and time again, we were the first to utilize these kinds of new models.
(Lihui Shen: Founder of Modern Sky)
Lihui said: Breaking up all kinds of barriers, we have to innovate by our own way!
The following comes from the interview between China Music Business News and Lihui Shen,the founder of Modern Sky.
SXSW began as a pure music festival and then built from there. Although many people say that the wind of music industry has come, but I think that wind is not strong enough yet; it’s only blowing a little right now.
However, the mobile Internet is different. It has huge volume and is the most popular industry. The young generation in China has more passion for science and technology than its peers across the globe, even those in the United States. We’re not saying want to do China’s South by Southwest, but we need to learn from its experience so we innovate in our own way.
As we often say, the biggest difference between the people from foreign technological industries and those from China is that many “geeks” or technological innovators in other countries grow up with rock music and are heavily influenced by music. But in China we see fashion as fashion, art as art and music as music. The barriers between them are invariable, inflexible.
Allow science and technology to merge with the music industry, and the audience in the music industry will also care about the mobile Internet. Overall, this is a lifestyle. The influence may be not significant in the first year after combining the industries. But in the third year, the chemical reaction will manifest. What are our plans in the future? To destroy these industry barriers! Thus, we found Yi and GMIC. There’s huge potential for music and technology to innovate and evolve.
(Will the Internet revolutionize all traditional industries?) I think “revolutionize” is a very stupid word. In my opinion, at first, the Internet will subvert the album-selling industry. But the word “destruction” is more appropriate, because the Internet has not built up anything; rather it has destroyed things and made them free. However, the chain of the music industry is incredibly long, with numerous parts, including performance, songwriting, sound recording copyright, tickets technology, producing and so on. Nothing is easy.
Chinese Internet companies have a problem of over-confidence. They are too eager to say, “Let me
revolutionize this, let me revolutionize that. I have more money than you.” However, many things need to be built up brick by brick. If the bricks are decaying, then I think it’s time to change the way of thinking. It’s not a revolution, but rather, reform: adding, adjusting, and changing. It is inappropriate to revolutionize without construction. This is particularly evident in the music industry because sometimes things must be done very slowly. The spirit of building brick by brick is extremely valuable.
Four years ago I attended a forum where we represented the traditional music companies and sat together with the Internet companies. They believed they could revolutionize us, but I believed they might not exist in five years. Indeed, most of those companies disappeared after five years. The word “revolutionize” is not very appropriate; I think “fuse and integrate” is more accurate because some industry barriers need to be torn down.
Most recently, it’s become popular for people from the Internet and investors to create bands. We did not expect that the originally “superior” people would be willing to do this. Once Modern Sky released magazines and records, many people would, upon meeting us for the first time, tell us “I bought your record”. I didn’t think that we’d have such a big influence. Indeed, it shows us that rock music influenced them from a very young age.
A lot of things happen by fate, not because we are very special. In fact, the development of music owes itself to the surrounding environment and the change in consumers of the pop culture. These people will gradually become the backbone of society and become influential and faithful to their own ideas. To some extent, that will promote the changes in the music industry.
Time is quite interesting. Before I never thought that I would do this, yet here I am.
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