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Eyeing global appeal of local music

By Gao Yuan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-23 09:03

Eyeing global appeal of local music

An audio-video shop in Weifang, Shandong province. China had a 400 million online music audience in 2012, according to the China Audio-Video Association. [Photo / China Daily]

Sony/ATV to explore new frontiers in the industry, including China market

It was a privilege to work with international music legends such as The Beatles and Michael Jackson, but what kind of privilege will it be being able to continue to "work" with these great names in music history after they die?

Guy Henderson is one of a few people who consider themselves honored to have such a job.

As an executive vice-president of the world's largest music publishing company, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, his job is to make sure the most-valued relics in music continue to shine.

In the meantime, he also finds exploring new frontiers in the music industry exciting.

"The Beatles catalog is a jewel for Sony/ATV, despite most of the songs being written in the 1960s. It is exciting to see the titles are as popular - if not more popular - as they ever were," said the 52-year-old.

Henderson is responsible for the company's businesses in Europe, Asia, Australasia and South Africa, the most valued markets after the United States.

Yet what excites the music publishing veteran more than the 40-year license earnings of Yellow Submarine is the rapid growth of emerging markets, including China.

Expectations for the China market are "enormous" because of the size of the country, said Henderson. "We plan to give it our full shot."

Songs written in the local language tend to take 90 percent of the market share in their country. The same applies to China.

Born and raised in South Africa where African-style music plays a dominating role, Henderson said Chinese language songs were in the same situation. "It will not be easy for Chinese-originated songs to position themselves on the global stage. Chinese language music suffers the same way as African or Indian language music does because local musicians mainly focus on domestic audiences," he said.

China's music import and export ratio was 50 to one, meaning for every 50 songs the country imports, only one Chinese song is exported, Nanjing Morning Post reported last year, citing Wang Jianyuan, dean of the music college at the Nanjing University of the Arts.

The mainland market is dependent on songwriters from Taiwan and Hong Kong, but the market is ready for more writers from the mainland, according to Henderson. Sony/ATV plans to sign more talented local writers and help them explore the global market when the time is right.


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