【ICSF PhD Workshop】"Fight or Flight - How the Music Industry Coopted Chaos"

Press time:2021-05-15Number of views:52

On the 13th of May, the Phd students of the Institute of a Community with a Shared Future (ICSF) at Communication University of China were able to take part in an engaging online lecture hosted by Professor Tong Xuena of Department of Music, School of Music and Recording Arts of CUC, which was given by Eric de Fontenay, founder of a American music management and media firm MusicDish.  This was the lecture three of  "International Culture Market & Cultural Soft Power of China" Workshop by ICSF, the topic of which was "International Music Marketing and Music Copyright Law". The thought-provoking lecture introduced the students to a broad array of issues regarding the overall developments and recent trends of the international music markets.

MusicDish*China (独⽴⼩炒) was launched by Eric in 2010 in Beijing. This creative music agency focuses on producing and promoting live music events across China. Eric is a regular speaker at  major music conferences in North America, Europe and Asia.

During his lecture, Eric highlighted the music industry's response to the chaotic times that faced the industry in the late 1990s. It was a decision between fight or flight; doubling down on what has always worked or coopting chaos and anarchy and emerge stronger.

The music industry decided to fight and the dynamics changed completely ever since. Companies  such as MP3.com completely revolutionised the industry in the 1990s, as did CDBaby or Diamond Rio, who created the first MP3 players, and were immediately sued over it and subsequently won the very first major copyright lawsuit by then in history. Eric highlighted this as a major breakthrough for the industry’s following changes of dynamics. As a particularly important development, Eric explained the introduction of the peer-2-peer code, a technology used by Napster, which completely upended the market and uncorked the distribution bottle, ultimately reducing the sales of music by some 50%.

It was not until Steve Jobs put an end to this near mortal strike to the music industry, by Apple making use of people's willingness to pay for quality, thus showing that piracy is a mere distortion of the music industry. Though Eric noted, this move by Apple was also met with concerns in the industry.

Eric furthermore ostensively explained the hits and opportunities that various parts of the international music industry were faced with recently by the Covid-19 pandemic. And his detailed break down of the Chinese music market additionally helped students to detect national trends and developments. His engaging debate on the latest developments of "music catalogue grabbing", big music names going IPO was crucial to help the students understanding of the vast changes that the music industry is and will still be going through in the close future. How will relationships downstream in the industry be affected?, Will the music industry look like the DotCom market in the years to come?“; are just some questions that open up a big array of  opportunities for academic research in this field.

Eric sees huge potential for the Chinese music industry to flourish, being aware that there still is a long way to go with respect to the copyright industry. He visually compared this matter to the issue of renting vs owning a home; it is about the accumulation of personal wealth or not.

Compellingly Eric concluded, that the music industry has still a vast potential to grow, it should be the most powerful cultural good there is. Music is in every part of the cultural industry, it is the background to our lives, it literally is everywhere.

You can read more about Eric and MusicDish*China 独⽴⼩炒 online www.musicdish-yaogun.com

Many Thanks to Eric, for this thought-provoking and passionate lecture on the developments and challenges of the international and Chinese music market.

Eric de Fontenay

After several years working as an economic consultant in the telecommunications industry, Eric de Fontenay founded digital media firm MusicDish, subsequently launching the largest music newswire Mi2N. In 2010, he launched MusicDish*China 独立小炒 to bridge Greater China's music sector with the world. He has arranged international performances in North America, Europe and Asia for Chinese rock acts such as Second Hand Rose and ByeByeFish as well as award-winning artists Jolin Tsai, Mayday, Joanna Wong and Matzuka. He also manages and tours a growing roster of overseas acts in China such as Grammy blues legend Sugar Blue. Eric is one of the co-founders of TGIS that organizes regular gatherings for Beijing's cultural community as well as party event promotions. He has organized talks and exhibition for NYCxDesign, China Institute and SXSW 2018, been featured in a variety of media such as China Daily, CCTV America and China Today, and was selected for Mandarin Leader's 2016 Honoree List. He is a regularly speaker at music conferences worldwide, most recently Music Biz (US), What's Next in Music? (LT), APaMM (KR) and Colisium Music Forum (KZ).


Report: FRANZISKA MAJA SCHOLZ (PhD of ICSF)