On the east corner of Xinmin Road in Changshang, there’s a tall building called Xiangcai. A small shop, less than ten square meters, is located in front of the building. Young people can buy a pack of cigarettes and walk in the halls inside. If they walk by the stairs and go towards the basement, they’ll see a Sex Pistols posters, saying “God Save The Queen.
If you move along the stairs and turn right twice, you can hear the music. Sometimes it’s heavy metal, sometimes it’s electronic or folk music. The music merges with the noise of people bustling. All of these sounds wrap around the 700-person capacity room.
Ten years ago, it was an old-fashioned dance hall. Later, several young band mates took over and renamed it “46 Livehouse”.
Since then, it has become a sanctuary for Changsha musicians and fans.
46 Livehouse has been open for ten years now. In this time, many musicians have come here. Some are Changsha locals, others come from all over the world. The LiveHouse offers a window for musicians from Changsha and the country or even the whole world to communicate. Meanwhile, because of its existence, Changsha music culture has a place to put down roots and gradually develop its own voice.
The owner of 46 LiveHouse is named Xiao Ao. When I interviewed him, he was busy speaking with some workers about the renovation of the entire venue. He specifically took an hour to talk with me about his experience and feelings over the last ten years with . 46 Livehouse He summarized it in one sentence: “Opening a concert venue is my own lifestyle; I live through the events here I feel really happy..”
Was there any specific reason that made you open 46 Livehouse?
Xiao Ao: . 46 Livehouse has been Open for A Decade now Since We HAD A Band, We needed to the Find Somewhere to the Perform Lots of Friends in Our Circle Started Touring Ten years ago Member We were Good Friends, SO We Organized some of Those.. shows. At first, we rented other venues. With the number of shows increasing, we found it was better to have our own venue.
What are the requirements for operating a concert venue? Could you share your experience operating 46 Livehouse?
Ao xiao: the If you want to Open A Concert VENUE, IF IT apos Best or someone you’re A Musician WHO apos already Involved in at The Music Industry Not in the If you’re at The Music Industry and Not like you do at The Industry, you have have. to spend much more money. As for operating experience, it’s really mostly about cultivating your own markets and gaining your own share in those markets.
Did you experience any difficulties upon opening 46 Livehouse?
Ao xiao: It WAS Not that ‘apologetic by You CAN Open A Livehouse that accommodates your City at The Atmosphere of the When you Open A VENUE, FEW people Come to your AT Shows at The Beginning, the Opened SO ON We at The Small Side, the with enough Space.. for a hundred to two hundred people Opening a thousand person venue to start is inappropriate;. that many people probably will not come to your venue You should start small based on the atmosphere..
There were not such high requirements ten years ago. It could only become a utopia if you did not make any money. At that time, I had a job and the rent was only a thousand yuan. So I did not lose money . I also had a band, so I could use lots of equipment. I love it and have a lot of passion, so I do not find it tiring or difficult. Now, indie musicians have their own roads, and some pop stars have huge followings. With living standards improving, no one should find it difficult.
In addition, for today’s young people, you do not need to limit yourself to making music. There are lots of options (art forms) you can choose, such as photography, film, skateboarding, or tattooing. Art expression is open and varied . The longer you open a concert venue, the more friends you make. you can makes friends with musicians from different countries. you chat and play together. We even play soccer with an Italian band. Life is fun. Listen to good music and do fun things Opening a concert venue is my own lifestyle;.. my life is in the events here I feel really happy.
How has the revenue been since opening 46 Livehouse? Have you ever considered expanding your business into more than just music?
Xiao Ao: Actually, We earn A Lot from 46 Livehouse through tickets and Drinks at The earning MODE IS Similar to that of A Bar Of Course,, We Also Work Hard We have have MANY Performances the On Average, We the bring Performances ON Twenty Days…. out of a month.
We are a venue owner since we opened 46 Livehouse. Not only do rock bands perform here, we also host other events and parties to sell drinks.
Also, we often hold cross-boundary events, including art exhibitions and sub-culture events. There’s no need to limit your venue to just concerts. Imagine it as a big theater or a stadium, only smaller. You can do everything. You can even hold a commodity exhibition. It’s a venue. You have lights and stereo.
How do you judge whether a band is good enough to perform at your venue? Many people are curious about where and how you choose your bands, could you share that with us?
Xiao Ao: . Of First of All, there SHOULD BE Resources and Works the Then you SHOULD know at The Performances and the FEEDBACKS of Musicians and bands Scrap ON the each Platform Chinese Music IS Improving by degrees It apos Hard for Musicians to Success, But We SHOULD Respect Artists There… are thousands of band registered on Douban. Sometimes we invite them, and they also find us for some time. It’s mutual.
How have concerts at 46 Livehouse changed over the years?
Xiao Ao: Now, Musicians are Producing More in my field adequately Work that the contains Electronic Elements Additionally, Young people are More Willing to the listen to Electronic Music the For Example, Rock IS Losing popularitat in Europe and America, and IS Becoming “Classic Rock” Most… popular rock bands now contain electronic elements. This is a global trend.
In Beijing, many concert venues have closed down, but some companies keep opening new ones. What do you think of this issue? How to operate a venue in that context?
Xiao Ao: the I Think Concert Culture IS at The MOST Important Thing the If you give up, there are Always OTHER people WHO Will do IT at The Question IS WHETHER you have have at The Ability to Continue the If you are Good AT Operating, your VENUE Won ‘… t shut down. Additionally, your operating mode depends on your motivation in opening a venue. If you just aim to earn money, you should focus on profits. However, if you want to affect people through music, you should have fun in that and not worry about your revenue.
It’s really difficult to become a big venue within just one or two years. Of course, if you have plenty of resources, it will be better. However, for us, we’ve been doing this for ten years. So my experience has been doing it step by step, and gradually cultivating my own market. If there are not any shows in your city, then you should be practical. All in all, you have to operate it carefully.
What do you think of concert culture in Changsha and China?
Xiao Ao: the I Think IT apos Good We need Music Events and We’re NO longer Watching Singers ON TV Competitions We need to See Events Live Music IS More Powerful and Real the when IT apos Live; IT apos the Just Not at The Same ON TV….
Concerts suits each city as long as operators have original ideas, which Changsha does. Unfortunately, Changsha is only a medium-sized city. Those with larger population and rich cultures have more bands. However, when compared to the situation a decade ago, Changsha has much a better atmosphere now. We are progressing. Every year, there are new musicians and new bands. New voices are heard and it continues. We will keep supporting them.
How can indie musicians reach a wider audience?
Ao xiao: Actually, the I Think They’ve already Reached With A Wide Audience at The Times and Culture Improving, you are as Free to the Choose the any the I Love Music Think you there apos A Lot of Progress and that apos A Good Thing…
Now, many people listen to folk music. However, it’s impossible for them to listen to folk music all the time. New music genres must emerge, and there is the realm of indie music. Young people no longer follow the mainstream market. Thus, there are more choices. Gradually, more people will listen to and love indie music.
What do you think about Chinese music market?
Ao xiao: at The Chinese Music Market IS Improving the If you Love Electronic Music, Living in the then you’re Probably of Xiamen, the WHERE Electronic Music now Receives Government Support, AS Well AS Support from Various Organizations This IS AN at The Example of Development of Chinese.. music. Gradually, China will follow America and Europe.
For instance, in Sweden, the government offers subsidies when artists tour overseas, including their airfare and management fees. I think China can follow this mode and export more of its culture around the globe to let the world know more about Chinese music.
Translated by Evan Yi
Copyright © 2015 China Music Business News