Universal launches a soundtrack label in China

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 14, 2020
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(From left) Singer Chen Chusheng, singer Sa Dingding, managing director of Universal Music China Garand Wu, Magic Muses CEO Kelvin Hou and pianist Luo Ning pose for a photo on the set of "Hi! Movie Music" in Beijing, Aug. 13, 2020. [Photo courtesy of Universal Music China]

Music industry giant Universal Music Group launched the Magic Muses label in Beijing on Thursday. It is the first label in China dedicated solely to film soundtracks and scores, and it was created to support China's global film and TV industry.

Universal Music China, a division of Universal Music Group (UMG), announced that the Beijing-based Magic Muses will work closely with local artists and composers to create bespoke musical works for high-profile film and TV projects in China, which is the world's second-largest movie market.

"The launch of Magic Muses shows UMG's strategic commitment to helping further raise awareness of Chinese music culture and creativity on a global stage," said Sunny Chang, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Greater China. "In the future, the label will play an important role in helping music from Chinese movies and TV to reach new audiences around the world."

The label will be run by veteran film marketing executive Kelvin Hou, who has been appointed as CEO. Hou was previously the founder and former CEO of China's top online movie database and community, Mtime. He promised that Magic Muses will be devoted to "bringing together local talent from the music and the film and TV industries to produce quality work that engages new and wider audiences globally." He also hopes to promote the industrialization of China's film and television music industry by aligning it with international standards.

Garand Wu, managing director of Universal Music China, added, "As the fastest growing movie market in the world, there is a great opportunity for our industries to collaborate across this previously neglected genre and reimagine the commercial and promotional opportunities that music can add to film projects. It is our vision to help redefine film and TV music production and to make Magic Muses the most respected and recognizable home for film and TV music in China."

A movie poster of "My People, My Homeland" [Image courtesy of Beijing Culture]

Wu continued by explaining that the new label is not a traditional one: "Our vision is to create an open, sustainable and platform-based innovative business model that is based on big data insights, an opening up of the internet media matrix, providing a platform for creative sharing and creating a resource exchange and cooperation platform for the best musicians and film and television producers at home and abroad. We will also provide high-quality music creativity projects and production for local film and television projects, and through a professional, global promotion and dissemination of film and television music pieces, we can create an everlasting vitality that will produce timeless classics."

UMG has previously produced and distributed many Oscar and Grammy-winning music soundtracks, such as "A Star is Born," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Shape of Water," "La La Land" and the Oscar-winning song "Let It Go" from the Disney animated film "Frozen." UMG has also had a long term collaborative relationship with such internationally distinguished top composers as John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Joe Hisaishi and Alexandra Desplat.

The company unveiled its first collaborative film project, which will see Magic Muses producing and releasing an original film soundtrack as well as providing musical promotion and marketing for the forthcoming film "My People, My Homeland." This highly-anticipated anthology has legendary filmmaker Zhang Yimou serving as the chief executive producer, and he is working with top Chinese directors Ning Hao, Xu Zheng, Chen Sicheng, Yan Fei, Peng Damo, Deng Chao and Yu Baimei. The movie featuring an all-star cast will be released on China's National Day holiday on Oct. 1.

"Universal Music is the first-choice music partner of world-renowned movie production companies. We look forward to the establishment of the Magic Muses label and the new atmosphere and vibe it will bring to China's film and television music, including changes to creative production standards, business model innovation and promotion of the industrialization and internationalization of Chinese film and television music," said Joe Zhang, executive of Beijing Culture and a producer of "My People, My Homeland."

He pointed out that music will play a very important role in "My People, My Homeland." It will not only enrich the film itself, but it will extend beyond that, communicating directly with people.

Discussing the project, Garand Wu said, "We are so happy to see Magic Muses provide such a great starting point for the debut of the soundtrack for 'My People, My Homeland.' Some of the world's most successful musical works are rooted from local culture and history." He hopes that the new soundtrack will embody trends in international music while also delivering an original Chinese sound with local characteristics, creating a new model for interaction between film and musical creativity.

This is just the latest big move by UMG in China. On Aug. 10, UMG and Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the leading online music entertainment platform in China, announced a multi-year extension of their licensing agreement. The two also plan to build a new joint venture music label that is dedicated to reaching audiences across China by cultivating, developing, producing and showcasing highly talented domestic artists and their original music.

On the same day, UMG and NetEase Cloud Music, a leading interactive music streaming service provider in China, also announced a multi-year licensing agreement. Under the agreement, NetEase Cloud Music will directly distribute UMG's music, including domestic and international recording artists, on its streaming NetEase Cloud Music platform and via associated digital services in China.

Universal Music China also announced the launch of "Hi! Movie Music," China's first original online series dedicated to the promotion of Chinese movie and TV music. The first episode, which debuted online on Aug. 12, featured Lang Lang, the globally celebrated piano virtuoso signed to UMG's Deutsche Grammophon, pop singer Chen Chusheng, who won the 2007 hit show Super Boy and Sa Dingding.

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