West’s woes a boon to Asia’s concert scene

West’s woes a boon to Asia’s concert scene

SINGAPORE - Agence France-Presse
West’s woes a boon to Asia’s concert scene

This photo shows a patron being tag to watch US pop diva Lady Gaga in Singapore. Western artists use festivals as a platform to introduce their music to a new audience. AFP photo

Faced with stubbornly feeble economies back home, more Western music acts are being lured to play in Asia to boost their profiles in a region where disposable incomes are growing, say experts.

Festival organizers say a rising number of North American and European acts are accepting cuts in their performance fees for the chance to build a fan base in Asia, a comparatively economically vibrant region hosting most of the world’s seven billion population.

“Some artists do take lower fees... They see the big opportunity in developing a market for themselves in markets like China and India,” said Alan Ridgeway, president of international and emerging markets for Live Nation Entertainment, one of the world’s leading concert promoters.

 “They could use festivals as a platform to introduce their music to a new audience, they can then come back and do multi-city tours and start building a following,” Ridgeway said at the Music Matters conference in Singapore in late May.

Japan, by various measures the world’s second largest music market after the United States, has traditionally always been able to attract high profile western acts and its Fuji Rock festival is considered to be Asia’s biggest. But Western indie acts are making pit stops elsewhere in Asia’s growing festival scene, even though these events lack the profile of the likes of the famed Glastonbury festival in the United Kingdom or Coachella in the US. Glastonbury performer Yuck played at Singapore’s St. Jerome’s Laneway festival in May this year, while UK bands The Cribs and Bombay Bicycle Club appeared at Hong Kong’s harborfront Clockenflap festival in 2011.

The world’s 50 biggest concert tours, most of them held in European and North American cities, sold a combined total of 35.5 million tickets in 2011, an 8.7 percent drop from the year earlier, according to trade magazine Pollstar.

As audiences dwindle in Europe, the pull of Asia’s upwardly mobile middle class is attracting Western acts to the region, said Mindy Coppin, vice-president and managing director at talent management company IMG Artists.

“Western artists have identified that the Asia market is growing when the Western markets are suffering due to economic difficulties,” she told AFP.