Nevin Domer has worked in the Chinese music industry since 2005 and believes it remains a hugely untapped market for New Zealand bands.
As well helping found the indie labels Maybe Mars and Genjing Records, he has also booked and managed tours in China for a number of New Zealand bands, including Die! Die! Die!, Wax Chattels, Shocking Pinks, Orchestra of Spheres, God Bows To Math, and Carb on Carb.
“There was a good reception for all these acts,” says Domer, who is one of the international speakers at this year’s Going Global Music Summit.
“More New Zealand bands should consider touring China and I would encourage them to reach out to the bands who have come before. Whatever style you play you can find an audience for it in China.”
However, Domer adds that artists thinking about touring need to be aware that China is very different from other established international market.
“It’s really important to connected with someone on the ground in China who can help you navigate the scene,” he advises. “There are a wide range of promoters here though who can help. Some of them only work with bigger bands, booking larger venues or festivals, but there are others who focus on smaller clubs or DIY tours.
“Take the time, do some research, and then reach out to the people who most closely align with the type of tour you hope to do.”
But while the Chinese indie sector is booming, Domer admits there is still disconnect between the underground scene there and what is happening in other markets around the world. Cultural and linguistic differences remain barriers, but the biggest issue is that ‘Great Chinese Firewall’ keeps the Chinese internet separated from the rest of the world.
“Facebook is blocked, Twitter is blocked, so is Soundcloud, Instagram, Snapchat and others. For this reason, it’s not easy for local Chinese to access information on, or communicate with, international DIY and underground bands. This doesn’t mean they aren’t looking though and they are able to get information about global stars or legendary acts but true DIY connections are limited.”
One possible way around this for NZ acts would be to engage more with the large Chinese expat community here.
“Local Chinese in Auckland can help to pierce the Chinese internet,” says Domer. “If they are sharing information about New Zealand bands on Chinese social media and streaming platforms, this will go a long way towards raising awareness inside China. Also, asking them what Chinese bands they listen to can help to gauge current tastes inside China. The kids living abroad tend to be tapped into the cutting edge of Chinese youth culture and they will often know which promoters, venues, labels, or bands are popular at the moment.
“Reaching out to the local Chinese community is a good first step, but don’t pander: get to know them and their tastes. and they’ll help you understand and connect with fans in China.”