Understanding the Asian Music Market

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Whilst at Sound City over the Summer, I was asked to take part in the Touring the Asian Music Market Panel, which was brilliantly moderated by Graham Perkins. I also recently spoke at Wild Paths conference in Norwich about how Horus Music is different and one of the reasons for this is because we’ve focused on Asia. The Asian market is a land of opportunity as there’s plenty of desire for Western content but as it’s much less saturated than the UK or US. As there are fewer western artists and companies competing in the Asian markets (as many are Western focused) smaller independent artists have more of a chance to compete.

The focus of the entering the music market panel was on touring, however, just playing some shows is not enough you need to make sure the new fans you make on tour remain loyal to you.

All aspects of the industry need to work harmoniously for artists to achieve the most success. No one part can work in isolation, any artist entering a new market needs to build a stable fanbase. I would argue that the most important thing for an artist to worry about, is to connect with their audience and then everything else will follow. This means engaging with the audience when performing at the show, engaging with your fans on social media and in the case of China it means engaging through comments on DSPs as their most popular streaming services are a form of social media too.

Distribution and marketing (which are my areas of expertise) are intrinsically linked, for example, if you’re off on tour in Asia and your music isn’t on the local platforms then you’re going to struggle to retain a fanbase there. Asian DSPs that I speak with always say to me to please let them know if any of our artists are performing in their country so they can increase the marketing activations for them, get them into the office to perform, playlist their music, do interviews with them etc.

What’s different about Asia is the fact that many of the services we’re used to like Spotify and Deezer for example; are either not available in the market or just aren’t the most popular services. If you look at China, for example, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter are not available in the country. Instead, Ten Cent’s QQ music is one of the most popular streaming services and WeChat and Weibo are what’s utilised in the social media/chat space. If you’re going to Japan then you need to get yourself onto Line Music a streaming music and chat/social media platform. If you go to South Korea, then I’d recommend downloading Kakao Talk as this is how most people connect there and Kakao you guessed it also has their own streaming service. You need to know about the different platforms in each country and start using them, it’s a great way to stay connected with your audience and fans. Don’t forget about the traditional models as well though, people seem to love Facebook in India and bands have told me after playing a show at one festival they got an additional 1000 likes after the show as the audience loved it! You also need to speak to your distributor and make sure that they deliver to Asia. Actively working artists and labels music in Asia is something that Horus has placed great importance on and is a USP of ours.

Here are a few of the main platforms in each main country:

China

  • TenCent which operates – QQ Music, Kuguo and Kuwo
  • Albibaba Music – Xiami Music
  • NetEase – Netease Cloud Music (also known as Wangyi in China)
  • Baidu
  • Migu Music

India:

  • JioSaavn
  • Hungama
  • Gaana
  • Wynk Music

South Korea:

  • Mel0n
  • Bugs Music
  • Naver Music, which also operates, Vibe

Japan

  • Line Music
  • AWA
  • Reco-Choku

Other Platforms

  • Anghami – Asia and the Middle East
  • Fungjai – Thailand
  • KK Box – Taiwan and across Asia.

If you’ve managed to get a tour in an Asian territory you should speak to your distribution company because they can inform their DSP partners in the region about your show and help you to reach a wider audience. It’s expensive going to another country so you need to make the most out of your trip and remember many DSPs also have ticketing info on their platforms (like Spotify) so it could help you sell more tickets as well as get more streams and new fans. We work with a few artists and labels only in Asia to get their tracks added to relevant playlists, posted on the platforms social media’s and we’ve even given our artists the opportunity to perform at the streaming services offices. So please feel free to reach out if you’re interested in this and I’d be happy to speak with you.

I learnt a few things about the VISA process for artists and the difficulties surrounding touring in Asia. So, I would definitely recommend any artists looking to tour Asia to use a music-specific agency to avoid these problems. Andy Corrigan from Viva la visa is very experienced in this, so I’d speak to them to give you a hand. 

 Ross from the very cool Hip-Hop group Too Many T’s had just come back from a tour of Asia and said that even he had picked up a few tips about what the band will do differently when they tour in Asia again. We’re actually now working with Too Many T’s and have helped them distribute, promote and market their album across Asia, they received lots of DSP support and have had a very successful tour.

In summary, the main things to think about when entering Asia is to get your VISA in good time and use an agency to help you. Don’t just focus on the show and think about how else you can market your music in Asia, talk to your distributor before you go and utilise the native social media/streaming apps to speak with your audience.