Especially at a time when Hong Kong is trying to claw itself back to some form of relevance, music, especially ‘live’ music being part of a vibrant holistic entertainment product where customers are welcomed for financially supporting what might even be a smidgen of a “scene”, is vital.
Like, Hope springs eternal, it’s from this point where many other things can grow.
It’s another form of teamwork.
Let’s also face facts that this isn’t the Hong Kong that once was a huge buffet of everything.
It’s now more like a box lunch of some things that work and others that do not and is something fed to those customers who still bother going out because this is how things are.
Those lockdown years messed up many things including heads and we’re all trying to make up for lost time.
For myself, we’re hardly Nat Hentoff, Ralph Gleason, Greil Marcus, or Dave Marsh, those great writers who knew the greatest musicians, producers, engineers and visionaries who all came together to make the best possible music heard through publications like Downbeat, Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone.
It was always about mutual respect- and this respect is what created an entire new industry that the world needed.
This is not to say that one expects some band from Hong Kong to produce the next “Bitches Brew” or “Dark Side Of The Moon”.
Right now, if there is to be what can be a Hong Kong music scene that is more than Canto Pop, it’s about looking beyond the obvious.
Sure, it’s about thinking where that next pay check is going to come from, but it’s also about looking at what building blocks might help create a super highway into the future.
If any business has no future, there are no bananas.
‘Live’ music in Hong Kong has always been a hit or miss affair and about appealing to a “populist” audience.
Nothing wrong with this as there’s a need to lighten things up.
If this means performing current and well-known hits instead of trying to get one’s head around the works of Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, that’s cool.
One size doesn’t fit all.
What concerns me is the “delivery system” and “process” of presenting this music- the importance of how everything must work together to maximum levels of quality control.
This is everything from the quality of the snacks and the sincerity of the smiles to those cute phrases on social media known as “interactivity” and “engagement”.
Add to this, things like “customer loyalty” and respecting those who never ever asked for anything for free, but who gave much by supporting the entertainment business and helping it grow.
From my days working with Norman Cheng at Polygram, Universal and EMI Music plus those fourteen years running the Happy Wednesday brand, it’s always been about paying our own way.
It’s also been about paying for everything needed to move things along and help talent in the city- like paying for producing music videos, paying for studio time, paying everyone on time, never quibbling about money for any work produced etc.
One hopes that those we have supported and continue to support remember those days and don’t take us for granted or see us as some kinda squiggly piggy bank.
We’ve helped many in very different ways over the decades and are still dedicated to creating new quality products,and in the process, hopefully coming up with new business models.
Especially after those lockdown years, everything has changed because the world has changed.
Today’s consumer is trying to understand what’s truly meaningful to them while constantly looking for that thing called happiness.
After all, Happy is no longer that old song by Pharrell Williams.
Something like music, and especially ‘live’ music is something very important me because it’s important to the image and vibe of a city that’s been my home for a very long time.
This music and the venues that house it need financial support in order to survive.
There are no fairy godmothers.
As Suzie Wong put it, No money, no honey.
Unfortunately, and it’s not only in Hong Kong, standards of pretty much everything have been allowed to slide including the art of conversation that leads to somewhere relevant.
In this city, perhaps because international tourism has dried up, the quality of hires is not what it should be because things are not what it was.
Then again, isn’t it too late to long for what it was?
Personally speaking, if Hong Kong is ever going to be able to hold its head up high again, it must morph into something else and not be fed crumbs and bribed with tacky vouchers.
What should also be remembered are those still bothering to invest in the city and trying to make good things happen.
Treat these people like some afterthought or putzes, where common courtesies go out the window, and it will be time for them to walk away and keep walking until reaching where they’re happy because they’ve met a race that shows signs of intelligence.