China's growing live electronic music movement

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Beijing has been hotting up this month with a string of live music festivals, bringing acts from all around the globe to audiences in Beijing.

Rock and electronic music festivals were pretty much unheard of a decade ago but both their scale and audience outreach have enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years.

The fifth annual Intro Music Festival came to town over the weekend, taking over the industrial jungle of the disused Capital Steel Factory in Beijing's Shijingshan.

The event boasted 80 acts from a myriad of genres from Techno-House to Breakbeat, and everything in between.

The market for live music festivals has been expanding rapidly in recent years, reflecting a diversification of cultural taste of audiences in China's major cities.

DJ Ouyang is a techno-house artist with a two decade long career in the Beijing live music industry.

"I think people who come to music festivals are becoming increasingly diverse. Initially it was only people who were already exposed to electronic music, now there are people who bring their children and come here to enjoy the atmosphere and the surroundings. I think this is such a successful transition - it is bringing music to a wider audience. To bring new music to an old setting is a successful integration of the two."

As a market in its infant stages of development, the music festival movement is spearheaded by a tough bunch of organizers and artists who are refusing to shy away from doing something different.

Michael Ohlsson is the founder of the Antidote collective and an organizer of MIDI festival, one of Beijing's largest and oldest. Ohlsson sees a wealth of opportunities for today's generation of Chinese artists.

"There are a lot of musicians and DJs and electronic artists in China and I think a lot of them are discouraged by the opportunities that they have. But actually there are fantastic opportunities out there if they're dedicated. you can tour the world, I think a lot of the young people think that they don't have the opportunities that they have in the Europe or the States but actually its better. It's exciting. When there's an exciting new band/producer, people get really excited about it and they really put a lot of respect and energy behind it."

DJ Mickey Zhang is one of the home-grown acts who have carved out a stellar career from his passion for music. Since debuting in 1999, Zhang's innovative work has alerted the ears of international audiences, taking him across Europe and Japan.

"For a music festival like this to happen in China is really special. From a certain perspective, the government may not be totally supportive but for them to allow it to happen is a good sign. Perhaps the Chinese government is slowly realizing that for people to pursue their individual ways of living is very important. The government should create more opportunities to allow each individual to choose. I think the government is starting to do that, to give a way to allow people to more freely choose their mode of living. Before the thought was unfathomable, but this happened."

Late last year, Beijing announced a ?1.4 billion investment into a ten-year project to expand "China Music Valley" in the Pingu area of the city. The future blazes bright for China's musical community.


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