And The Next Batch of Mandopop Stars Are?

Updated: Sep 22

Afterthoughts from this year's Golden Melody Awards and what makes Mandopop's millennial fans tick?

I’d recently attended the 27th Golden Melody Awards held in Taipei late June. The night was a long yet eventful and entertaining one. For anyone who’d grew up with Chinese pop or Mandopop, it was a treat to see stellar performances by veterans such as A-Mei and Karen Mok.

The magnificent opening act by Sodagreen was also one that shouldn’t be missed.

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After the event, I’d thought about who’s next after these batch of artists and how will they impressed the millennials? Sure, there’s the current Prince of MandoPop, JJLin, but looking at the industry overall, there are fewer outstanding artists than ten, possibly even twenty years ago. What has changed? Here's some food for thought.

  1. Artists used to be more “untouchable”: Flashback to our parents’ and grandparents’ era where their favorite rock stars were only seen on stage or TV. It was difficult to catch a glimpse of your favorite artist on the street, especially if you were an overseas fan. Today, it is almost a requirement for an artist to engage with their fans from all over the world. Social media has that power to make or break an artist.

  2. Music is now affordable: The industry has been through tumultuous times from music piracy with Napster and bitTorrent to a growing number of paying customers year on year. $0.99 a song on Apple Music or $9.90 per month for ad-free “all you can eat” music buffet with the option of creating playlists to suit your moods on Spotify, not mentioning other Asian players such as Melon Music, KKBOX and Moov. However, compared to the glorious days of music, a vinyl, CD, cassette or MD (if any of you remember) was an extravagant treat for high school students. Has that resulted in a greater mindset to create hits that "sell" vs music truly representative of the artist?

  3. Most artists aren’t focused only on singing: Hugely impacted by music piracy, artists not only have to stand out but have to diversify their portfolios to create sustainable income. Hence, they're now a common sight in dramas, movies and commercials. It’s a lot of hard work.

  4. Availability of music creation tools and courses: With technology and a sophisticated range of music making tools and courses in the market, more people are trained and could try their hand at music production. However, supply is possibly more than demand and listeners are spoiled for choice.

  5. Similar music reality shows and training programs: From the Idol series, The Voice and the like, these reality TV show formats sold the dream to anyone who believed that they could be the next big star. Contestants are moulded into a certain type of artist with similar training programs.

The list could go on, but I’m almost sure there’ll be interesting findings if we did a deep dive with data and case studies on the points above. Perhaps with greater technology advancements, we’ll see more perspectives in time. Stay tuned.

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