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Celebration of musical talent

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-10 11:04

Click#15's performance during the CMIC Music Awards. 

The recent China Music Industy Committee Music Awards honored performers from a diverse range of genres including pop, rock and hip-hop, and the technical experts who work behind the scenes, Chen Nan reports.

If you are expecting some of the biggest pop stars to appear on the red carpet, or a flamboyant fashion parade with cameras flashing, then the China Music Industry Committee Music Awards may not be for you.

But hundreds of music industry insiders, leaders of record companies, critics, and other notables from the music business gathered for a banquet to celebrate the third CMIC Music Awards on July 31 where they handed out 35 trophies for outstanding achievement over 2018-19.

The awards honored performers from a diverse range of genres including pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz and classical music. They also recognized technicians, engineers and designers behind each album and song.

The biggest winner of the night was Hong Kong diva Sandy Lam, who released her latest album, entitled 0, on Dec 21, her first album in six years. She won four awards, including Female Singer of the Year and Album of the Year.

The singer didn't show up for the ceremony and Garand Wu, the managing director of Universal Music China, accepted the awards on her behalf.

Singer-songwriter Xue Zhiqian won the award for Male Singer of the Year, while rapper Liu Boxin won the award for New Artist of the Year.

Speaking about her award, Liu, 21, who is better known by her stage name, Lexie, says: "I came here with no expectation. I just wanted to show my respect to this event."

Liu rose to fame after winning fourth place at the Chinese reality show, The Rap of China, in 2018 and the same year, she released her debut album, entitled 2029, which received a nomination for Best New Artist of the Year at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards.

Showcasing the rise of China's indie rock bands, thanks to The Big Band, a reality show hosted by the iQiyi video platform, which propelled the once underground culture into the limelight, four outstanding indie bands performed in the ceremony, including Jiulian Zhenren, an indie band from Guangdong province, opened the ceremony with a song in the Hakka dialect, entitled Mo Qi Shao Nian Qiong, which literally translated means "Don't underestimate the youth around".

Hedgehog, a Beijing-based rock band, not only performed onstage but also received the award for Band of the Year.

Launching its performance, the band's lead singer and guitarist Zhao Zijian said to cheers from the audience: "This summer is full of rock 'n' roll."

Commenting on awards show, Chinese conductor Yu Long, who gave out the award of Original Classical Album of the Year to Kunming Nie Er Symphony Orchestra's album, Symphonic Suite Ashima, composed by Zou Ye, says: "There is a new generation of artists and a diversity of music genres, which deserve to be seen by a larger audience. The CMIC Music Awards offers them a platform and sets standards."

Also commenting on the ceremony, Song Ke, the chairman of the China Music Industry Committee, says: "It's the people of the Chinese music business celebrating themselves, whether you are a pop star, sound engineer or album cover designer. We want to honor the arts or the artists for what they created during the past, whether they are commercially successful or not."

In 2017, Song led the committee, a nonprofit organization which has more than 100 members belonging to record labels and distributors, to launch the CMIC Music Awards, hoping to restore the dignity of China's music industry.

A central figure in the development of China's music industry for more than two decades, Song, the former head of Warner Music China and now the CEO of Live Nation China, says that there are many music awards in China, which "have celebrities, screaming fans and generous sponsors, but it's more about entertainment. They have nothing to do with music.

"It's been my dream to launch such a music award ceremony like the CMIC Music Awards, which can be called 'fair' and 'authoritative', rather than just a visual showcase."

Song's idea was supported by Xu Yi, the former CEO of Sony Music Entertainment China and now the CEO of Taihe Music, who was unanimously voted president of the CMIC Music Awards Committee in March 2017.

The 36 award-winners were chosen from over 6,000 candidates. And the number of members of China Music Industry Committee increased from 33 to 174 from 2017 to 2019, and range from international record companies to indie record labels.

The jury of the CMIC Music Awards comprises 101 members of the China Music Industry Committee, all from record labels and distributors. Taiwan veteran songwriter and producer Jonathan Lee was the chief consultant.

The event has progressed over the years. Xu says: "We know that people of the industry are watching and waiting. They have questions and doubts. CMIC Music Awards is still very young. We went to the Grammy Awards and Brit Awards to learn how those awards were run. We really need a music award in China, which represents the music scene."

In the early 2000s, due to rampant online piracy, record companies didn't consider it worthwhile to release albums and turned instead to managing artists' performances and advertising for their main source of revenue. And Song left the industry to open a roast duck restaurant.

It took years for the industry to recover from decline. In 2015, the National Copyright Administration notice was issued, stipulating that online music delivery platforms must remove all unauthorized songs. That was a major move in the fight against rampant piracy in the industry.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, China, a new entrant in the global top 10 the previous year, rose to seventh position in 2018.

As for the future, Xu says: "Audiences can now access a much wider range of musical genres and works. They're searching for diversity and new blood. The market is becoming more demanding, and we are seeing many new faces appearing. How the CMIC Music Awards will change the country's music scene, we have to wait and see."

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