homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

The Internet and the Chinese rave scene

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 05, 2003

Network Effects: Use of the Internet in the Chinese Rave Scene describes how Chinese music promoters and DJs are using the Internet to download & share music, read foreign music-related media, plan events, and generally share knowledge about their interests & craft, despite the Great Firewall of China:

I began to see a number of distinct effects of the rapid increase in Net usage on the nascent Chinese club scene: local DJs and producers were using the Internet to obtain new tools for producing and distributing their own music; websites were springing up to inform users about new developments in the Chinese scene and provide new opportunities for participants to communicate with one another; and music makers and clubbers alike were using the Net to learn about and obtain new music from both domestic and international artists.

and

Some Chinese DJs even use music downloaded from the Net in their live sets, making their own compilations of MP3 files of music from China and abroad and recording them on CDRs; I have observed DJs at some of the largest clubs in Shanghai and Guangzhou using these CDRs in the DJ booth. Among some in the Chinese underground hiphop scene, only tracks which have been downloaded are considered truly “underground” and thus valuable, while any music which is available for purchase in physical form is seen as being tainted by commerciality to some degree.

When I was in Beijing in 1996, I observed several people handing out club flyers around hotels and in the more hip/affluent parts of the city. They were particularly keen about giving flyers to anyone who looked like a tourist.

Reader comments

RossJun 05, 2003 at 4:42PM

Among some in the Chinese underground hiphop scene, only tracks which have been downloaded are considered truly “underground” and thus valuable, while any music which is available for purchase in physical form is seen as being tainted by commerciality to some degree.

How do we spread that kind of meme here in the US?

Erich IanJun 05, 2003 at 10:08PM

How do you know it’s not already here? :)

chrisJun 06, 2003 at 2:40AM

maybe i’m missing something because it’s far too early in the morning, but what has the use of the internet in the chinese club scene got to do with your last remark about targetting fliers to tourists?

ajmicekJun 06, 2003 at 1:17PM

This is truly another example of the internet as a tool for communication, one that oversteps the ridiculous political boundaries some countries impose on themselves.

Its quite interesting to see a reversal in the social norms - that downloaded music is considered “better” and not “tainted” there rather than the other way around here.

Justin WongJun 06, 2003 at 4:33PM

CDR culture, if you will, is a global phenomon. In China, the average household earns the equivalant of about $1200 USD a year. So bootlegging is a norm. There is plenty of electronic music that is not available on vinyl, so to mix or play live you have to have on CD, mp3, or CDR. It’s not a reversal of social norms per se, it is THEIR norm. This is both out of culture and utility.

Just think of it this way. If you made $1200 a year. How many records would you buy?

Adam WoodJun 06, 2003 at 8:06PM

Let’s see… If I made $1200 a year, I suppose I’d buy about 90 records.

dowingbaJun 06, 2003 at 10:00PM

Hope you like records for dinner.

JohnJun 07, 2003 at 4:01PM

People always seem to forget that, in many areas of China (and around the globe), piracy is the only way to get a lot of American and European music. The distribution system outside of perhaps three or four major cities doesn’t exist.

I spent four months in Changchun, a large industrial city in northeast China, and I didn’t run across one place to buy legitimate music. Not that I would have bought from such a place were it to exist, but it’s a point worth making.

If music companies want to stem piracy in the developing world, maybe they should make more of an effort to make legal copies of the music available.

Jonas!Jun 08, 2003 at 4:15AM

It is not so much an economic question so much as a cultural one. The record labels do price their CDs cheaper. Paying a premium for intellectual properties is much more embedded into western society.

The “underground” thing is also true in the states regarding hip-hop culture and punk culture, where commericiality is poison. (see the terms such as “sold out” and people such as “ja rule” or “weezer”.) i don’t find it really remarkable.

afraelJun 09, 2003 at 10:01AM

I’m actually quite glad tha China is finally opening up. In Venezuela you also see the “download underground thing”, the local record industry or their reps, just push the music they consider good, you know all that pop stuff, so if you want any other kind of music, for instance elctronic, you must go to special stores and pay a premium price or download them. It’s an easy choice if you’ve got the bandwidth.

pereJun 10, 2003 at 4:20AM

How do you know this?

beenhexedJun 18, 2003 at 12:42PM

Pardon me, but did you coin the phrase “Great Firewall of China?” If you did you deserve a very prolonged and enjoyable blowjob, it is excitingly clever.

Restaurantes de ValladolidJun 25, 2003 at 4:32AM

Yes, CDR culture is a global fhenomenom

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.