Exposing Chinese Bands

Two weeks ago, a series of musical events and film screenings called Sound of the Xity took place in Beijing to expose Chinese popular artists to Western promoters and distributors.

Part of the series was the International Urban Music Culture Summit, where a dozen or so Chinese bands performed for foreign bookers and promoters.

Few of the Westerners were impressed by what they saw, according to China Daily. Most told the news service that they were looking for something unique but mostly saw Chinese bands mimicking Western styles.

Very few Chinese rock artists, even those who are very popular within China, have attracted any sort of notoriety abroad, even when they’ve toured.

Cui Jian, China’s biggest rock star, once commented that he was disappointed to realize that whenever he played in the West he was still playing to Chinese audiences. He even said he saw more Western faces at his concerts in China.

Several bookers said they have tried to get festival slots overseas for some well-known Chinese acts but the festivals usually turned them down. Some said the main problem is exposure. Recordings of Chinese artists are almost impossible to find in the West, and very few media expose them in any way.

Still, the market for rock music in China has never been better, which means more groups have the chance to improve their skills and find their own styles. That’s why events like the Urban Music Culture Summit are important.

Even though no band that appeared got any foreign gigs out of it, the foreign music industry people said they learned a lot and would surely return.