Make Some Noise, Hong Kong... The Monacle Can't Hear You!
Hong Kong is in danger of being left in the dust, a position it is not very accustomed too
I picked up my issue of the Monacle to find a survey on Hong Kong, "the bustling world city of Asia." Considering I'm flying there next month for the Music Matters conference (aren't you?), I tore straight for the section, hoping to find some cool underground clubs or read about someone redefining the rules of Hong Kong's music scene. Perhaps they would mention the "Make Some Noise, Hong Kong" campaign to petition the government to change its Noise Control Ordinance in recognition to the value that outdoor events offer the city. Or Chris B., co-founder of the Underground HK, which has been supporting the live music scene and developing independent bands for the past 6 years.
No... actually, there was nothing. I mean NOTHING, not one word, let alone a blurb about music in the entire survey! There was something about the film industry, art market, even performing arts, but not a peep on music.
Was this a grave omission on the part of the Monacle? Or is there something amiss with Hong Kong? Macau right next door has significantly raised its entertainment profile thanks to glitzy new casinos and money pouring in from the mainland. Since the liberalization of the gaming industry in 2002, it's earned the nickname "Las Vegas of the East" and become one of the world's richest cities. The boom in tourism and entertainment has led to an exponential increase in performances and uses of creative works in hotels, clubs and casinos. And all that money brought CISAC to the Chinese territory to help establish Macau's own authors' society MACA (Macau Association of Composers, Authors & Publishers) last year to manage licensing and royalty revenues.
As a consequence, Macau is also starting to displace Hong Kong as the destination for international big-name artist to perform. It also helps that the bureaucratic process and costs to secure permits and licenses for an event in Macau is a fraction of what one would face in Hong Kong - remember the little dig I made earlier about burdensome noise control regulations. Add to this the growing cultural importance of cities like Beijing and Shanghai as well as the brain/talent-drain they are causing - can you hear that sucking sound? - and Hong Kong is in danger of being left in the dust, a position it is not very accustomed too.
But it doesn't stop at China. Hans Ebert, Chairman and CEO of music-based entertainment company We-Enhance, warns in a bruising article called 'The Problem With HKTVB And The Hong Kong Music Industry' that "Singapore has a more creative and thriving entertainment industry, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Also, venues like the Power Station, the efforts of the Singapore Government to turn the city into a global media hub, the powerhouse that is Mediacorp, the creativity of its bars and restaurants and clubs are all contributing to the well-being of its music industry."
Hans Ebert thinks the Hong Kong entertainment world needs a facelift... and a miracle. Maybe the Monacle was just being a little too bourgeois. Stay tune for my report from Asia's capital in late May...
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