Asia: Zayn, SMG, Napster

Zayn Cancels Japan

Zayn Malik
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
– Zayn Malik
Accepting the award for new artist of the year at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Zayn‘s two concerts in Japan, June 18 in Yokohama and June 19 in Osaka, were canceled June 6, with promoter Creativeman Productions citing a “delay in the production process” for an album the former One Direction star is recording.

Zayn was supposed to play one concert in Japan last January but that show was postponed until June. Rather than postpone the concert for a second time – the announcement states the singer plans to come to Japan “after the album is announced” – Creativeman decided to cancel the shows and refund all tickets.

SMG For Shenzhen

American facilities management firm

SMG says the venue will be “one of the largest convention centers” when the first phase of the venue is opened in 2019.

Construction will begin in September. According to SMG, the design includes 4.3 million square feet of exhibition space, about twice the size of McCormick Place in Chicago, the largest meeting and exhibition space in North America.

SMG provides management services to more than 230 facilities comprising 15 million square feet of exhibition space.

Ayumi Hamasaki Confirms Hearing Loss

Ayumi Hamasaki, one of Japan’s all-time biggest-selling pop singers, recently confirmed that she is going deaf. Hamasaki revealed the news on her blog Team Ayu. She is 38 years old. 

She said she plans to continue with her career. “The stage is where I belong,” she wrote. “It’s the only place I really, truly exist. I don’t know anything else.”

Doctors ran a series of tests on the singer and told her she was losing her hearing.

“I was told after various tests that my right ear – which has been working overtime to compensate for the deafness in my left ear – is quickly weakening,” she wrote.

Apparently, she had been experiencing severe dizzy spells lately that made it difficult for her to walk straight and also caused her to vomit.

Hamasaki has been deaf in her left ear since 2008, a condition that was traced to a cold-related ear infection that happened in 2000.

Kpop’s Return Signals Eased Tensions

The South Korean show business press is saying that there seems to be a thaw in the chilly relations between South Korea and China. For months now, Seoul’s decision to install an anti-missile defense system has angered the Chinese government, which retaliated by limiting Korean popular culture and entertainment on the mainland. The main evidence of the thaw is that K-pop is back on China’s music charts.

The latest album by top K-pop boy band  was in fourth place on the digital album chart of QQ Music, a popular Chinese streaming service, according to Yonhap News.

Global star Psy‘s new single, “I Luv IT,” came in sixth on QQ’s singles charts. Previously, all Korean music had to be removed from the chart, regardless of how many times the songs were listened to, according to Yonhap.

In addition, the K-pop girl group AOA will perform at a meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on Jeju Island this month.

AIIA is China’s answer to the World Bank, and the South Korean government hopes that AOA’s popularity in Asia could “mend strained ties” between China and Korea, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

An article in Quartz online magazine says that part of the thaw could be credited to the election of the new South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who is taking a proactive stance on mending ties with Beijing by sending delegates to discuss the missile defense system.

Napster Back?

Japan’s premiere e-commerce company, Rakuten, is reportedly planning a tie-up with an infamous name from the past, Napster, to start a new music streaming service in Japan.

Though Japan is the world’s second-largest music market, music streaming has yet to catch on in the country in as big a way as it has in the U.S. and other places.

Spotify Japan finally opened for business last year, and Apple Music and other streaming services are available in Japan, but none are setting the music business on fire. CDs are still the main event, even if sales are dwindling.

Barron’s reported that China’s own top e-commerce company, Tencent, as the natural inspiration for Rakuten’s move. Last month, Tencent made a deal with Universal Music Group to stream millions of Western songs to Chinese consumers, and Rakuten thinks it can do the same with Napster, which reportedly will provide the company with 20 million songs to start with.