Stage set for growth as music business finds rhythm in China

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Zong Xiaojun (front, center) and his students at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in late 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When Zong Xiaojun went to the United States to study as one of the first Chinese students in Miami University with a major in music business and entertainment industries in 1995, he met his professor, Maurice Oberstein, who was also a record company executive then.

Oberstein told Zong, who back then was his only student from China, that the future of music market lies in China.

Surprised, Zong asked Oberstein why he thought that. His professor responded that in his experience of working as the managing director of PolyGram Music, which at the time was home to Canto-pop stars such as Alan Tam and Hacken Lee, he was impressed by the vibrant music scene and the artists' popularity across Asia.

During his two-year stint in the US, Zong-who learned to play the cello at age 5 with his musician parents and graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1991-learned about music business management, a subject not widely understood in China in the late 90s, and he participated in music conferences to learn the inner workings of the industry.

"I've been thinking of what professor Oberstein told me and I believe he was right," Zong says, recounting the story at the Music Industry Forum 2018, which took place in Beijing on Wednesday.

Upon his return to China in 1997, he had three wishes: to write a book about the management of music industry, to launch his own music company and to establish a university major for music business management in China, teaching Chinese students just like professor Oberstein had taught him.

About two decades later, Zong, now 50, has realized all three wishes. He published a book, entitled The Secret of the Music Industry, in 1998. He is the owner of a music company, named Music Generation, focused on artist management and musical copyright issues. In 2001, he launched his university major in music business and art management at the Central Conservatory of Music, which has trained about 120 graduates so far.

"The prediction of professor Oberstein has become real now. The music scene in China is booming and the industry is getting better and better," says Zong.

Statistics prove that China's music industry has developed drastically with the changing ways of how people now listen to and consume music, according to a report released at the forum, which was jointly organized by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the Communication University of China and the Music Industry Promotion Committee.

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