Ten Things We Learned at IMS China


5 October 2015

IMS China opened the doors to the market for both local and international leaders.
Where do we go from here?

International Music Summit expanded its reach into the mysterious and massive market of China for the first time this year. Landing in Shanghai on October 2nd, 250 delegates from all around the world and locally from China congregated for a one-day summit of panels and keynote interviews to learn and exchange ideas about this rapidly growing market.

17 different countries were represented at IMS China and the discussions covered important topics to properly grow the market like brand presence, the nightlife culture and the exclusive marketing and Internet strategies that must be taken in order to penetrate China’s market.

Through quotes and guiding notions from our esteemed speakers, we’ve compiled a list of 10 major takeaways from IMS China.

1. UNDERSTAND THE MARKET AND ITS POTENTIAL

With 1.6 billion people in China alone, the inaugural Business Report tailored specifically for China illuminated that even with a 3% penetration increase, the potential target market could be 6.6 million people. Event capacity and ticket sales continue to grow as well, reflecting the positive and explosive reaction people in China are beginning to show towards electronic music.

“There is huge potential to grow the market. Penetration is currently 1/90th of that in the USA. […] If the Chinese market were even a quarter of where the US is, there would be 40 new music festivals a year as big as STORM.” – Kevin Watson

2. FAMILIARIZE WITH THE DIVERSE POPULATION

“When China’s middle class grows, so does everything else. 18.2% of the population are middle class, and by 2020, this will be nearly 40%.” – Eric Zho, founder of A2Live and STORM Festival

China’s population is extremely diverse, making it all the more important to truly understand the differentiation between each demographic when considering these enormous statistics.

3. DIANYINTAI AIMS TO SOLVE THE INTERNET DIVIDE

Eric Zho of STORM Festival announced his plans to launch DIANYINTAI, China’s new hub for electronic music that will channel music from local China to the rest of the world. China lacks access to basic social media and music tools often used in the Western world like Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud and Spotify.

“DIANYINTAI’s goals will be discovery of music and chart-topping tracks, new genres, and buying tickets. It will be the one stop solution for EDM fans in China.”

4. ARTISTS MUST TAKE AN EXTRA STEP TO LOCALIZE IN CHINA

“Artists just aren’t making the effort to break through in China. You need a localized approach if you want to break through. Localize. Collaborate. Adapt.” – James Grant, Manager of Above & Beyond.

In order for artists to truly build a fan base in China, extra steps and localized efforts will have to be made both online and internally to understand the region in order to succeed.

5.  ENCOURAGE A LOVE FOR THE MUSIC

“You want to make sure that the music element is not neglected. At the end of the day, that’s what drives everything else.” Kurosh Nasseri, Attorney and Artist Manager of Paul Van Dyk

The next goal for China and its local leaders are to encourage and support a uniquely local market. Local leaders should look inwards rather than outwards.

6.  GROW FROM THE INSIDE OUT

An entire panel was dedicated to The Great Firewall of China, the government-mandated ban on the Internet networks of the country that disable access to popular and widely used social media and music tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud and Spotify.

Quickly, the conversation shifted less from understanding the blockage to looking at the issue in a different perspective. Focus less on infiltration from outside in, and examine how to work from the inside first.

“The fact that you can’t access YouTube doesn’t mean that you can’t bring it to a local partner here in China. We can mimic what we’ve done on the outside.” – Greg Consiglio, CEO of Beatport

7.  CHINA’S INDUSTRY STILL NEEDS RULES

“In China, it’s still brand new. There’s no copyright protection, no legal streaming rules. That’s another Firewall. […] The Firewall is figuring out how we get something back. We must invest to figure out how to get paid.” – Eelko van Kooten, CEO of Spinnin Records

China’s industry has yet to set the same rules and standards that exist in Western counterparts. Specifically, copyright protection and properly compensating artists for their work will be an issue in the future.

8.  THE GOVERNMENT IS BEHIND THE MOVEMENT

“It’s rather practical for the government to have a festival rather than build an amusement park. The government is welcome to it. It will bring tourism for them. […] We need to influence the government and show them the other options.” – Irene Yang of MIDI Festival

Local leader Irene Yang of MIDI Festival based in Beijing stated that the government sees the benefit of providing festivals as a form of entertainment. Additionally, she shared that China is currently desperate to encourage their own culture to grow.

9.  DO NOT RELY ON BRAND MARKETING

“Problems in China come when people rely entirely on brand marketing. You must understand the motivations of the local audience.” – Andrew Bull, Director of Shine Communications in China

Because China’s electronic industry grew out of a heavily money and brand-infused nightlife culture, worldwide brands like Budweiser have invested heavily into the market. However, Andrew explains that this cannot be used as a crutch for internationals interested in entering into the region.

10.  ELECTRONIC MUSIC HAS ARRIVED IN CHINA (AND EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD TOO)

A final note and takeaway from IMS China came from Noel Lee, the Founder of Monster Products, which created Monster which would eventually become Monster Beats, then Beats by Dre, which was sold to Apple for $3 billion.

“Electronic music is one of the most worldwide, influential music products. The energy of EDM is without language.”

One of the major reasons for electronic music’s explosive growth in China is due to its ability to defy language and cultural barriers. Supporting this idea, Noel applied this notion to the topic of Brands in China and also to the entire genre and industry of electronic music.