The more things change, the more they remain the same and when it comes to Asia’s truly puny and pathetic music industry- puny because no one knows where the real money is and just plays follow the leader when there are actually no leaders but only sheep- nothing ever changes as the “new” hires have happened through a tedious game of creaky old musical chairs. 

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Seriously now, when so-called marketing executives who wouldn’t know how to write out a marketing strategy and are well-known fraudsters who can still hip-hop from one music company to the next carrying the same old baggage, how can anything new and exciting happen? 

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It’s all a bit like IF that legend in his own lunchtime, Harry Hui suddenly makes a comeback and runs a music company as superficial as he is- like the hanky panky, spanky wanky Gold Typhoon which was started by Norman Cheng when with EMI before, somehow, ending up in the hands of that showbiz groupie known as The Pongster- the very LOUD and obnoxious Louis Pong.

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Today, Gold Typhoon is run by Chiara Scaglia,  the daughter of Italian businessman and investor Silvio Scaglia, who is said to still be under house arrest in Italy for fraud. Charming.

Why was she hired? She speaks Mandarin and ‘cos Dad said so. Even more charming.

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What’s my beef? The fact that the same old mistakes are being made over and over and over again. 

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Take the coke-snorting MD once with Universal Music and then hired by EMI who came across being humble and hard-working- when he was only working very hard- for himself.

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At EMI, I saw right through him, but was told by the head Dim Sum that the reason why he and I didn’t get along was my problem- despite the money from the company that went up his nose, the side businesses he formed, the Master recordings paid for sessions that got “lost” and his various stints in rehab. And so he finally gets the boot and goes into hiding in Taiwan as the Korean triads wanted his ass.

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Next move? Warner Music Asia hire him and think he’s the greatest thing since kim chee.

This photo belongs to Jerry Redfern. Not for reproduction in any means.

Alas, history repeats itself and those who hired him finally find out that they’ve been had- yes, like those who sold the Harry Hui-as-Chairman hype to Universal Music along with a few other characters hired during the HH regime whose only assets to the company were a smile and handshake.

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So, as Joni Mitchell sang, around and around we go in the circle game- and which is why nothing changes in the Asian music industry and mediocrity and incompetence are rewarded.

If an executive was a disaster with EMI in Singapore or Malaysia, what on earth could he bring to Sony Music except for the same dumb fuck ideas ‘cos he doesn’t have anything in his bag of tricks other than working with telcos. On what? Ring tunes and RBTs? Where’s the money in that?

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I have to laugh, but am also saddened and pissed off by those in Head Office and wonder why they place so much faith in lousy HR people with poor track records to their names. 

Hiring someone from Disney just because they worked for Disney and could sign Goofy’s autograph is like hiring an HR person from McDonald’s just because they got a “degree” in French fries at Hamburger University.

What the hell do they know about the music industry and hiring those who can DEVELOP into being good, NEW music executives- and know music? 

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Why hire from the same piss poor pool that has existed for three decades?

What ROI do they bring in exchange for their titles and salaries when they have had no home runs- anywhere? The ability to get on a plane, clock up more air miles and attend another useless conference where the bloke from Singapore or the Philippines talk about their “booming markets”?

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This leads me to the music. Where is it? 

In Greater China, it’s like it’s always been and where there is either ponderous ballads or else Hello Kitty pop ditties- or chanteuses like Coco Lee or Karen Mok who are tai tais and celebs more than singers.

Who on earth would wanna buy an album of covers recorded by the unremarkable Karen Mok? 

The former of the species are still led by crooners like Jacky Cheung, the Julio Iglesias of Canto-Mando slush, who, after a self-absorbed attempt at recording a “jazz” album which was more like “jizz” and filled with dated originals, recently recorded the new theme for the daft happy@hong kong campaign for the geniuses with the Hong Kong Tourist Association.

This piece of turgid hollowness is meant to make Hong Kong feel happy?

It makes me wanna slit my wrists and ask Melanie Safka to sing, What Have They Done To My Song, Ma.

Other male singers? Well, surprisingly, Khalil Fong has left Warner Music- surprising as I always thought there was a strong loyalty factor involved- and has signed some deal with- yikes- Gold Typhoon with a new album on the way and featuring some great LA session musos. Great.

Though one might have Steve Lukather on the record, let’s just hope the music is half-way decent as, though a nice guy, the last time I heard his “originals”, they were pretty darn similar to songs by Minnie Ripperton, Stevie Wonder and Babyface.

To many music fans, however, this is “jazz” or “RnB” and which is why there is now an implosion of new, younger singers- male and female- thinking they are breaking new ground when in truth they’re walking down the same Yellow Brick Road as the Tin Man, The Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion, Khalil Fong, Aarif Lee and David Tao, the Idi Amin of soft cock Mandarin pap hyped as “RnB”. 

A few “Oh yeahs” and “Oooh mama mamas” punched in during a recording session does not constitute “soul.” 

The bottom line is that the Asian industry has been run and controlled by few who wish to still have a say in it and have hired those in their own likeness- and mentality.

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So, though the flying squads from Head Office will receive lip service and that Hedgehoppers Anonymous song about how “It’s Good News Week”, it’s all an act for a few days and business as usual after the “gweilos” have gone home.

Whereas elsewhere in the world, there might exist an Indie scene, it doesn’t in Asia as Indie or Mork and Mindy need money to survive and grow and are almost always eventually owned by a major label. Nanu nanu.

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At the major label, it’s not about the music.

I honestly believe too many music executives have forgotten about this- and artists and how not to screw them- which is why they talk incessantly about various new carriers, streaming, downloading, pricing, Spotify etc.

How does Spotify pay artists? After five years of asking, NO music executive has been able to tell me.

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But what’s the point in all this, well, stuff and clutter if there’s no music or if the music produced is shithouse and no one wants it- even if free?

This problem comes from those in the music business who have gone to the same well too many times, move in packs, know very few outside that same group who attended those useless MTV Asia Music Awards all those years ago and are just waiting for a golden handshake so they can start a curry house, own a Jollybee or join a telco.

There is no passion for their job and their get up and go has got up and gone- if there was any in the first place.

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So, with this tired mindset, you wonder why there isn’t an Asian music industry or anything new on the horizon?

And you don’t think others are not looking at new business models and will bring about change where there will be artists and not celebrities and artists being fairly paid for their art?

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