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France to Support its Music Industry Through Smartphone Tax

August 8th, 2013

Indie artists like poker player Vanessa Rousso will benefit from this plan

music downloads

Music piracy is one of the biggest reasons why the recording industry is losing billions of dollars in profit. Instead of buying compact discs, people just download songs online, thus depriving artists the chance to earn from solely from CD sales. In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported that around 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded between 2004 and 2009, leading to the industry’s $12.5 billion economic loss with most people using their smartphones and tablets to download songs illicitly from file sharing portals, although many argue the validity of these numbers…

While a lot of international agencies are powerless in terms of regulating illegal downloads, a French government official has found a way to address music piracy. With France among the world’s biggest smartphone markets, French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti urged the government that it is high time to put a taxation system on such devices in order to help the music industry. Under the proposed law, smartphones and tablets—which are used by people to download songs, e-books, and other forms of digital media—should be subjected to one percent tax. The smartphone tax scheme came in the wake of the Virgin Megastores decision to shut down 26 of its stores across France. The music and DVD retailer went bankrupt on June 12 and is now subjected to liquidation.

“It could lead to a fund that would finance record stores in difficulty, help the music industry or photographers. This fee will be paid at the time of purchase. It will be painless for the consumer. In the end, it would have a very profound impact on the entire cultural sector,” the culture official added.

Currently, France is the second among the EU5 countries when it comes to mobile device ownership. Global research firm comScore reported that there are at least 7.1 million smartphone owners in France, with the numbers expected to double in the next five years.

If these mobile users will shoulder the one percent tax imposed on smartphone sales, then small-time artists will get a stable support not just from the government but from the general public as well.

One musician who will gladly welcome this news is pro poker player turned indie electronic artist Vanessa Rousso. Lately, the World Poker Tour veteran has been tiptoeing from poker tables to turntables as an electronic musician. In fact, she studied songwriting, music theory and composition, sound design, and digital production for four years before her very first gig at the Marquee Club in Las Vegas. To pursue her new endeavor, she spent a lot of time, energy, and money to perfect her newfound love for music. Even if she always ends up at seventh place in Partypoker Premier League tournaments just like in 2010, it wouldn’t really hurt her wallet much now because the French government is willing to fund the dreams of people like her through the smartphone tax scheme. If this plan pushes through, the financially-embattled musicians will no longer beg for support. What’s left for them to do is make good music that people will keep on playing using their gadgets.

Recent News

August 6th, 2013

I have done a terrible job of updating my blog lately, but not for lack of things to post about…

In fact the problem is that it’s been too busy and there have been too many exciting things going on for me to be able to update my blog about them…

I’ve been producing a lot more singles, not so many albums which is not surprising given the direction of the industry, but here is one of my more recent releases:
Edge of Forever by Elika Mahony

Here are some though that we’ve posted at Pro Soul Alliance:

At Music Matters Asia conference in Singapore this week

China’s Pop Icon Cheng Lin is back in concert this week

BTV China features Pro Soul Studio and my work in China

I’ll post more about what I’ve been producing soon, some of the artists can be found here

 

 

Music company Pro Soul officially launches in Beijing, China

July 31st, 2012

Chinese flag

I have some big news. I have merged my music production work with my music marketing and promotion company, Pro Soul Alliance.
And I’m excited to officially announce something we’ve been working on for over 2 years now, launching Pro Soul Alliance in China.

China is a huge, emerging market for the music industry, but currently in it’s infancy, and immature. Professional assistance is desperately needed due to crippling discouragement for artists attributed to the pervasive downloading of music. There is also a huge lack of ‘official’ presence for foreign artists who are becoming very popular in China. That means huge opportunity for those willing to support, develop and nurture this challenging market.

At the end of 2011, Pro Soul announced a new world class recording and production studio in Beijing as our first step. Now we are offering promotion, marketing, sales and distribution both within China and outside to our existing artists and Chinese artists through our local office in Beijing. Unlike other companies offering music services in China, we are based within China, and our local office is staffed with bilingual locals who know the market and culture, and have experience working with Chinese and international artists here.
Pro Soul has been legally registered as a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise in China under the name ‘敬真堂(北京)文化咨询有限公司’ Which translates to ‘Respect Truth (Beijing) Culture Consultancy Co. Ltd.’ (This was as close as we could get to our english name given the language and cultural differences. We kind of like how depending on the translation of our Chinese name, it can mean ‘Church of Truth’)

Because China is a complex and daunting market for a foreign company, we are starting out with the following basic range of services:

For Chinese artists:

 

  • Focusing on getting Chinese artists who are ready exposure internationally
  • Getting international distribution and sales for Chinese music (iTunes, Spotify, Nokia)
  • Promotion and marketing for Chinese artists overseas by connecting with interested markets and fans

 

For International Artists:

  • Digital distribution for international artists in China (including essential mobile stores China Mobile, Unicom, Telecom)
  • Promotion and marketing in China focusing on key social networking sites like Weibo, Douban, Youku
  • Collaboration with Chinese artists and recording traditional Chinese instruments with local professionals

As Pro Soul continues researching the industry and experimenting with new techniques for promotion and marketing music in China, we will also be offering licensing for Chinese music internationally in Film, TV, and online, expanding their revenue sources. We will also assist Chinese artists who are ready create their own business and develop music career in China to maximize their profit and control. Of course we will also be able to assist international artists book shows and organize tours in China in future.

Pro Soul has already begun assisting international artists Elika Mahony, and Hart as well as Chinese artist Abominati get exposure in China.

You can sign up right now for promotion, marketing and  distribution in China with the ‘Professional Artist Management and Consulting Asia’ option on our Get Started page.
For artists within China, we have a new website entirely in Chinese with a helpful blog focused on the local market.

For more information, please contact our China artist services manager BeiBei Lei

This means you will see less posts on my blog about music business, promotion and marketing, and music production as more of those posts will be featured on the Pro Soul Alliance blog so please check it out and subscribe for some great information like how to earn money licensing music on youtube, and my latest news and projects!

My meeting with Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter

July 30th, 2012

Last may I was at a music conference in Singapore called Music Matters, focused on the future of the music industry, particularly in Asia.
(Thanks to the talented Michael aka Mobidextrous & Miss Melody for helping making this happen!)

Although I didn’t hear too much that I hadn’t heard before, it was great to gain some insights into the music scene in Asia, where Korean Pop is becoming like Beatlemania, and Mainland China is still no where to be seen…
Amongst many industry leaders and respected professionals, I had the pleasure of spending some time briefly with the busy Troy Carter, manager for Lady GaGa.

Troy Carter with Jarome Matthew of Pro Soul Alliance
Troy Carter. Lady Gaga’s manager and I

We discussed the importance of Asia for Lady GaGa despite difficulties in places like Indonesia with pressure from Islamic groups causing cancellation of her show there this week.

Troy confirmed that China is an important place for the future of Lady GaGa, but given the undeveloped state of the music industry there and various other challenges for foreign artists, they will take some time to plan and prepare for an official presence in Mainland China.
Ga Ga however sold out 4 shows in Hong Kong recently, with many mainland Chinese attending.

I was happy to hear Troy confirm that building a relationship with fans is the most important thing an artist can do, even for a major success like Gaga. he also talked about the importance of being comfortable with using social media and other technology to connect with fans, as important as touring was 20 years ago.

I look forward to helping out when China is ready for Lady GaGa’s appearance in the near future!

Troy Carter, manager, Lady Gaga

Trent Reznors new approach to creating music

March 17th, 2012

“You know, I spent years of my life listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall when I was however old I was, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, whatever. I didn’t have access to that much music. Music was an investment. If I spent eight, ten dollars on an album I was gonna listen to it even if it sucked. I was going to listen it until I liked it, you know? I read the liner notes, I read the etching on the vinyl, on the inside ring. I lived with that material, it became part of me. And I don’t mean just that, but the consumption of music was different.

Today, where you’ve got an iPod that’s filled with music you didn’t pay for, and everybody’s… it’s just a different consumption model, between youtube and the internet and people sharing files. Competition for your attention; people spend less time with music. And hence, as an artist that spent years on records, it’s somewhat defeating when you spend a year and a half on an album to get it just right, and it either leaks or comes out, and gets judged and dismissed in the first half a day, forgotten a week later.

That was a long setup for me saying – I thought it would be interesting to look at an album more like a magazine. Let’s do it, not carelessly, but let’s NOT look at it as the next thing that’s my big statement for the next four years of my life. Here was a very intensive and creative six-to-eight weeks of my life I had, as an album. Here it is. It’s free. That’s what The Slip was. It’s fun to do, it was interesting to see if it could be done. I’m proud of that record, it was fun to make. The self-imposed pressure was also matched with [the fact that] if it sucked I didn’t have to put it out.”

– Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails. Read more from the source of this quote here.

The future of education is here! Khan Academy online

March 14th, 2012

Since I posted about the insightful Ken Robinson talk about how defective the education of our children is, I’ve been thinking, how do I avoid putting my son into this mess? When will a functioning solution exist to address Ken’s excellent suggestions to reform education, given that government institutions are lazy, disinterested and short of funding?

Well as a parent, I was practically jumping up and down with excitement to learn of the non-profit Khan Academy.
Do you think founder Sal Khan is an education major? Of course not. Watch the amazing story about how this developed and how it mushroomed into a serious force in eduction with Bill Gates and Google supporting it:

Recording for Cheng Lin’s new Chinese release “Greater Than Gold”

February 3rd, 2012

Over the last year since I set up a studio in Beijing, I’ve had the privilege of working with one of China’s most respected and well loved artists, Cheng Lin on songs for her new album, ‘Greater Than Gold’. Although not all the songs we worked on have been included in this release, I am happy to have been able to help with the project in some way.
I blogged about a song that we worked on which I also produced and arranged, Only One Earth which won a Green China award.
One track in particular, Ray of Light, was the final vocal recording for the album before Cheng Lin decided it was time to get this album out.

Cheng Lin 'Greater Than Gold' Album cover

Having sold more than 25 million albums through her career Cheng Lin is no stranger to album releases. What’s unique with this launch is that it’s her first album release in 15 years and it marks both and ending and a new starting point of her career.

The album covers remixes of some of her biggest hits throughout her career as well as brand new material inspired by western and multicultural rhythms and melodies. The result is a unique music style, produced by three time Grammy Award winner KC Porter.

It was a pleasure to collaborate on Cheng Lin’s album with a producer who’s catalog of music and productions includes artists such as Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Carlo Santana, and Beyonce.

It was very cool to see Lin performing songs from the new album to a full house  in one of Beijing’s largest theatres, and hear a live band performing my arrangement of one of her songs, and hear the audience singing along with her hits!
You can listen to some of Cheng Lin’s new album ‘Greater Than Gold’ and purchase it here in North America.

Cheng Lin Green T House, Beijing

Happy New Year, Xinnian Kuaile! All about China in 10 minutes

January 22nd, 2012

Chinese Year of Dragon

On the eve of Chinese New Year, Year of the Dragon, the legendary spring festival, fireworks are already going off all day.
To celebrate this rich and highly complex culture, I am sharing everything you need to know but probably don’t about China in 10 minutes:

Since childhood, the fireworks were always a big deal to me, I remember paying $10 for a pack of 100…
Yesterday I went to the seasonal fireworks shop in the land of origin, and they come in cakes of 5000 for $40!
But that’s not the biggest, see below:

10,000 Firecracker cake, China

10,000 Firecracker cake, China

The fireworks here are some of the loudest you will ever hear. It’s like a war zone here for 2 weeks!
The Chinese believe that if you make enough noise, any bad things will be frightened off and your new year will start out with only greatness.

 

Fireworks shop, Beijing China

Fireworks shop, Beijing

祝願你們也有個好年!吃得好,睡得好,身體好,過年好!
– Wish you have a good year! Eat well, sleep well, good health, Happy New Year!

New Song Released: Cool & Careless

January 15th, 2012

For some years now, I’ve been working on Heather Dore‘s first original song (partly due to the fact that it started in the middle of my move to China)
I’m excited to share that it’s now been released!

This upbeat “sassy plea to unfaithful lovers” was written by Darryl Kromm of Canadian hit 80′s synth pop band Strange Advance.
Guitar was performed by my long time friend and amazing guitarist, Erol Sora.
Take a listen:

With the aim of creating the perfect 80′s inspired pop song, I looked to colleague and friend Darryl Kromm who already wrote some of Canada’s best loved and known 80′s pop songs.

Reworking Darryl’s upbeat yet dramatic account of the abandoned lover, I created a modern ‘future disco’ musical arrangement to the 80′s inspired lyrics to create a cool fusion of two musical worlds.

Written and recorded in Vancouver, Cool & Careless was produced in Vancouver and Beijing, and mixed in the new Beijing studio.

I look forward to hearing what you think!

 

Quality of Life

January 4th, 2012

“Everything you have in life can be taken from you except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
THIS is what determines the quality of the life we’ve lived, not whether we’ve been rich or poor, famous or unknown, healthy or suffering,
what determines our quality of life is how we relate to these realities, what kind of meaning we assign them, what kind of attitude we cling to about them, what state of mind we allow them to trigger.”

– Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor

It’s never too late to reflect on our experiences and rebuild the negative neural pathways in our brain!