Doing Business with China

Friday, September 13, 2013

When you ask people in performing arts organization about China and their feelings about doing business with them, the response generally ranges from nothing at all to something in between skepticism and weary. However, there is definite interest and many want to figure out a way to pursue what they see as the next undeveloped market. 

My very first visit to China was in summer of 2000. At the time, I was working in the recording industry for BMG Entertainment International. BMG at that time had 56 offices around the world. The one last market they were eager to tap into was China. That summer, I assisted in facilitating the first Pan-Asian A&R conference, which brought together a group of colleagues from the BMG’s Pan-Asian territories to discuss and strategize on ways to successfully break an artist in China. 

The next visit later came in 2004 when I was working with CAMI. I went to present projects CAMI would like to tour in China. Vice versa, they were also just as eager to bring their projects outside of China for touring. 

Both trips presented similar challenges. From cultural differences, lack of transparency, different artistic standards, audience developments, to legal infrastructure that was borderline non-existent. With each visit, the country showed off more opulent stadiums and state of the art performing arts facilities. Yet, they did not have the well-trained staff to operate these facilities or the knowledgeable administrative staff to figure out what programs are needed to fill in these stunning spaces. 

In the Spring 2012 issue of Western Ways, Alison M. Friedman, Founder / Director of Ping Pong Productions, in Beijing, China gave us a brief glimpse of the performing arts market climate in China. She wrote about several challenges facing the market, but also gave us hope that fruitful opportunities and partnerships is there if carefully navigated. 

Fast forward to 2013, many of those hurdles that she mentioned and what I had experienced still exist, and so does the great opportunity China affords. WAA will be offering a closer look at these issues during the 2013 conference with a workshop on Doing Business with China. This session will introduce the essentials of touring in China and presenting Chinese artists: understanding the promoter model, how promoters plan, program, market, and operate, ticketing, legal issues, major markets, regional differences, and finding and vetting Chinese artists. 

To help navigate through some of the complexities and challenging issues will be President, John Geng and Director, Vincent Mar of A.C. Orange. We are also privileged to have Alison M. Friedman to join the panel as well. 

This is an incredible opportunity not just for WAA’s delegation to learn more about the marketplace in China, but WAA has also formed a professional cultural exchange partnership with A.C. Orange. They will be bringing along a group of Chinese delegations ranging from venue managers, ticketing outlets, presenters, promoters and media companies to attend the 2013 Conference. This is the first time in any of the regional conferences a group of Chinese delegation has expressed serious interest in learning from our marketplace. 

As part of the exchange, WAA will provide a two-hour special orientation/seminar for the delegation. The session will cover the mission and purpose of the conference; how agents, artists, and presenters do business at WAA; conference protocols; and key events and activities. 

Based on the programming and business interests of the delegation, WAA will facilitate meetings with appropriate U.S. artists, agents, or presenters attending the conference. Lastly, WAA will help arrange site visits and meetings with key personnel at venues in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. 

Established in 2007, A.C. Orange is a private non state-owned entertainment company. Its mission is to search and present outstanding Chinese and international performing arts programs to meet the Chinese entertainment market's need, and to promote emerging talented young artists internationally. 
Based in Beijing, Ping Pong Productions produces cultural exchange and collaboration projects between Chinese and international performing artists and arts organizations. 


Cindy Hwang