Is Hong Kong Rock dead? Legends unite in show of support!

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Do the names Beyond, Grasshopper and The Wynners mean anything to you? If you were a fan of Hong Kong Rock music in the 1970’s, 80’s or 90’s, you’d be familiar with the three super-groups. Having them together in the same room is akin to Nirvana, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles hanging out.

Wednesday night, several of the city’s top contemporary acts joined Hong Kong’s Rock royalty for a night of live music at PP Club in Tsim Sha Tsui. The exclusive event was organized by Puma and Orange Melody, a new music site. Alan Tam, Paul Wong, Kenny Bee and many others were in attendance. The theme seemed to be promoting live music, particularly Rock in Hong Kong. But is it already too late for the city’s Rock scene?

Speaking with my music industry friends over the years they’ve pointed out several factors that have contributed to the decline of Rock bands and live music in general in the city.

The foremost factor is the economics of the modern music industry. In Hong Kong, the primary income of record labels is derived not from selling albums or concert tickets, but from product endorsements. Singers are now used to sell everything from cosmetics to vacuum cleaners. This fact has lead to recording “artists” who don’t know how to sing or play an instrument. Despite a lack of musical abilities, with a cute face and an image tailored to a particular market, endorsement opportunities abound.

The other factors contributing to the death of Rock bands are numerous. Some are international trends, while others are specific to Hong Kong. The overall change in popular tastes, like the rise of genres such as Hip Hop and R&B, is one example. A lack of local radio stations that promote new music is another. (Though arguably the Internet seems to have trumped this deficiency.) Hong Kong’s small apartments and cramped quarters make Rock difficult to practice. The city also has a traditional view of the entertainment industry as an undesirable vocation. A lack of paying gigs and venues willing to showcase bands (a club would rather pay a d.j. than have to cough up money for an entire group,) is another major obstacle.

Yet like a flower growing through a cracked cement sidewalk, despite all these factors, Hong Kong still has a number of talented bands emerging. A newcomer that seems to be helping independent bands is the Asia-centric entertainment / social networking site Alive Not Dead. Bands such as Hard Pack, Audio Traffic and 24 Herbs have benefited from their inclusion on the site. In addition to garnering a greater audience and additional fans, the site is exploring new revenue opportunities outside of the industry norm. By tapping the inherent dynamics of a community site with its built in user base, the company is able to provide tailored solutions to artists. What does that mean? Here’s an example.

Alive Not Dead recently assisted the band Audio Traffic hold an interesting hybrid event. Part mini-concert and part cd-launch, guests paid an entry fee and received not only a live show with special musical guests, but also a copy of the new Audio Traffic cd.

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This type of model reflects one way in which bands can circumvent standard industry practices altogether in favor of a grass roots, or perhaps Internet-driven promotion. How successful was the event? It was packed with fans and celebrities. This is just one way the site has helped the band to monetize their music. It’s a fascinating start with multiple avenues of potential.

Despite the malaise of the local music industry, new methods of reaching an audience and distributing music beyond traditional practices are shining a beacon of hope on the city’s scene. Perhaps Rock music will rise again, even more free than before!

[photopress:PP_Club_Beyond_band_Hong.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Hong_Kong_rock_music_bands.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Grasshopper_Hong_Kong_band.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Hardpack_Hong_Kong_band_1.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Hong_Kong_band_scene.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Rock_bands_Hong_Kong_HK.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Paul_Wong_Hong_Kong_Beyond.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Paul_Wong_Beyond_Hong_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Hong_Kong_music_scene_HK.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Hardpack_Rock_HK_bands.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Anthony_Wong_Beyond_Rock_HK.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:Hong_Kong_music_bands_Indie.jpg,full,pp_image]

10 Comments

  • Interesting article – I can’t help but feel you’ve been missing out on all the other rock music that happens in Hong Kong – The Underground, Pier Pressure, bands at the Fringe, the Aberdeen Teenage Warehouse Shows, etc etc.

  • Hi Adrian,

    You missed the point. I’m talking about Rock as a popular, mainstream music form. Yes, there are still band events, but who goes? Mostly other bands! That’s a huge contrast to the popular success of the bands I mentioned as legends. I’m familiar with the above, and occasionally I post about band events. https://www.hongkonghustle.com/music/274/hong-kong-hardcore-band-show/

    If there are any upcoming shows that promoters want listed, please feel free to use the Contact form and I’ll add them.

  • Frankly speaking, hong kong people are not in to western music and also not musical in a sense of groove. Unlike, japanese and filipinos they know what groove is, and can distinguish good music from crap.

  • Exactly , Hong Kong is never into good music but just controlled music business
    it is not an issue of rock or any kind of music Hong Kong canton pop produce crap most of all these years it’s sad as there are many great Hong Kong talents but only the same stupid talent you see for over 20 years in Hong Kong pathetic!

  • Hello Everybody:

    The article is very interesting and the comments are insightful. I do not agree that rock in HK is dead; it just needs people to promote the concept of rock music. I am into the ’60 music and I still remember groups like the Lotus, Mystics, Fabulous Echoes and Teddy Robin were doing extremely well. Any idea how we can revive the music scene?

  • Since when we’re Alan Tam, Kenny B , Anthony Wong, ever ROCK STARS?? the only one here seems to be Paul Wong who is a Rocker from the start! and what happend to Peter Ng and Donald Ashley of Chyna? don’t they exists? what the hell are you people promoting? more Lies? Propaganda so you could control and brainwash the new and next generation? wake up call People! get your facts right and your history correct if you have any Intergity at all.

  • Hans, you need to calm down and re-read the post. It lists the people you mention above as attending, not as Rock stars. If you’d like to add some info about the Hong Kong Rock scene in the past, please be our guest.

  • hey guys…. looking up for some events of rock music?…. kinda boring here in hong kong …. everything is pop…

  • Actually, the music around town is getting better than it was! For Rock, look for special Thursday night parties at FLY, and also certain nights at XXX.

  • Well, I’m trying to start a heavy metal band and it’s almost impossible, everyone just wants to play pop and jazz, I appreciate different genres, but in general it’s pretty weak here and I agree with the article, even the tv shows are much lamer, I used to love the old jacky chan era stuff, very witty, but now it is tame, plastic and repetitive. Btw if anyone wants to help me start a band, please contact me..!

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