Sunday, July 12, 2009
the truth about the taiwan music industry
They didn’t want me to be in the white guys’ way… I felt I was pushed into a rhythm and blues corner to keep out of rocker’s way, because that’s where the money is. When ‘Tutti Frutti’ came out… They needed a rock star to block me out of white homes because I was a hero to white kids. The white kids would have Pat Boone upon the dresser and me in the drawer ‘cause they liked my version better, but the families didn’t want me because of the image that I was projecting."
Little Richard, on why he got sidelined by white singer Pat Boone
the taiwan "music" industry is one big propaganda machine. but propaganda to what end? to answer this one must understand a little about the concept of taiwan status.
after taiwan was kicked out of the UN in the 70s in favor of diplomatic relations with mainland china, it has been in a sort of limbo- a country that is not a country. an entity that has to beg and scrounge for recognition and allies. many of it's diplomatic allies consist of 3rd world island nations and despot countries who have been bought off with the abundant reserves of the ROC, thanks to their semi-socialist control of industries such as tobacco, steel, rail (all of which they pillaged from the Japanese after WWII).
everytime taiwan tries to assert itself either in opinon or joining organizations suc as the WHO etc, they get threatend by china. then the US also tells Taiwan when and where to open it's mouth.
this kind of manhandling frustrates the taiwanese people and their politicians and has been a source of inferiority complex for them. so they try everything they can to assert a feeling of "superiority", hence and emphasis on localization in the music industry, whether the music sucks or not.
also westernization of taiwan (in the surface sense not the philosophical) has been quite rapid. as taiwan is closest to the US both in military need and as a trading partner, this was natural.
however, chiang kai shek was not a fool. the ROC observed that music was a threat. elvis, the beatles, the hippie movement, were things he couldn't allow in his fascist island paradise. music was tightly controlled. yes elvis got in, but not the threating elvis that we know.
taiwan basicaly went thru the 50s and 60s in a vaccum. few people in taiwan are on the same page as the rest of the world in discussing modern music. it's as if they had been asleep for 50 years and have to have everything explained to them. even japan is not like this. taiwan people do not feel they are with the world. it's an us/them mentality. they never look at themselves as being a part of the world culture.
whats worse, the music industry in taiwan wants it that way, because foriegn artists outsell local records in actual sales. people know that local pop stars are manufactured, and thus don't buy their records. that's a good sign. the bad is, what taiwan people know about foriegn music is as FORIEGN MUSIC, again the us/them mentality.
the taiwan record industry exists as a form of control, mostly to child down the population, but also as a morale building agent, to show taiwanese what taiwanese can do. that is admirable. but this form of localzation has created a "special ed class" for the musically untalented, and a highly subjective double standard for musical performance (ie, taiwanese don't have to play that well) as well as cronyism and an elitist only participation in entertainment.
Posted by lin at 2:17 AM