China's Audio Industry: A Perspective from AES' Peter Cook
The audio industry is experiencing explosive growth, so much so that it's perhaps become almost unmanageable
Pictured at a meeting of the China Audio & Video Association, bottom row center Peter Cook with Shusen Wang to his right
We had reported earlier on the Audio Engineering Society establishing a Beijing Section, their first in mainland China. I took the opportunity to discuss the Society's entry into China with AES Governor of Regions & Sections Chair, Peter Cook as well as the state of China's professional audio industry.
What were the motivation to form a section in China?
The motivation came from some members in Beijing who were eager to get AES activities started in China. Specifically, we were contacted by Shusen Wang. Shusen had studied and worked in Germany as well as in China. He knew what AES had to offer and understood how an AES presence could strengthen the audio industry in China.
From the AES's point of view, obviously this is an opportunity to expand our membership and our international reach. We have members all over the world, but given the population of China and the incredible expansion of the industry, we are currently underrepresented there.
Of course, this was not the first attempt to start a section. There has long been interest from both China and from the AES. In fact, there's an amazing/wonderful coincidence in this story which we only realized when I was in Beijing looking at photos of earlier AES-related events in China. Several years ago, my former teacher Wieslaw Woszczyk had tried to get AES activities started in China and the man he was working with in China was Yizhong Cheng who, it turns out, was Shusen's teacher!
What role do you feel AES can bring in the development of China's professional audio industry? What are some priorities that AES plans to address?
Priorities will be set by the members in China. Shusen and other members have very ambitious plans. There are many areas where the AES can help. It largely boils down to providing a platform to educate the industry: studios need to be built to industry standards, equipment needs to be manufactured to proper specifications, people need to be trained. The entertainment industry is exploding in terms of music and film production. There are huge audio archives at record companies and broadcasters which need to be transferred. The list goes on.
My impression is that there is a great deal of very high quality expertise and technology in China. But the country is so big and is growing and changing so quickly that it is difficult to keep up with demand for expertise. The AES provides a platform for the gathering and dissemination of information about our industry and we've been doing it for over 60 years.
What does the formation of a section in Beijing say about the evolution of China's professional audio industry?
The industry is experiencing explosive growth, so much so that it's perhaps become almost unmanageable. I think that there is a recognition in China that the AES have not just a great deal of knowledge and expertise, but also a long history of helping the industry advance. We hold conventions, we put on conferences, we develop standards, we have technical committees, we do workshops, tutorials, publications, local section meetings, on and on.
On the other side of the coin, there is technology and expertise in China which those of us outside do not know about. So the information and opportunities for trade can flow both ways.
What are some of the main challenges to US-based AES members entering and growing in the Chinese market?
I don't think I can answer that. I'm a Canadian :-]
Seriously though, I am not an expert on this topic. I only spent four days in Beijing! But I think it's safe to say that for any AES member anywhere in the world, but particularly in the west, there are the practical challenges of language and understanding each other's cultural differences. We need to educate ourselves and each other. We need to take the time to get to know each other and to establish relationships.
And the AES can do so much with exactly this. I always say that the AES founders were very wise in choosing the name of our organization. We are the experts in "Audio". Our work is "Engineering" whether it be in application, design, manufacturing, or research. And we definitely are a "Society". We get together to gather and then share ideas, research, and information. In the process we advance the art and science of all things audio. And we get to know each other.
I think the AES will prove to be a valuable conduit for AES members inside and outside of China. We have a lot to offer each other.
Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» Audio Engineering Society Expands To China - New Beijing Section Exemplifies International Growth (2012-07-10)