It’s no secret: Hong Kong has a handful of good musicians, mediocrity is elevated and Okay becomes excellent as there’s really no “benchmark” or “standard of excellence” as what we have is the Peter Principle of music.
Then again, some might ask, Are you throwing the net far enough?
Are you, perhaps, moving in that one circle of “jizz” musos who get all the private and hotel lounge gigs, and being an ignoramus to this “groundswell of cutting edge young musos?”
Well, in Hong Kong, fart and the city knows it.
This is a small place with a handful of venues for ‘live’ gigs and there have been the same young, “Indie” musicians for the past twenty years.
Call me old-fashioned, but if forty and still scrounging around for gigs, that Use By date has come and gone, and, if that bank balance is batting zero and there are mouths to feed, who’s to let pride and false sense of self-importance get in the way?
So, to those who keep asking why Hong Kong doesn’t simply fly musos out from the UK, LA, NYC, Toronto, Sydney etc, well, and to do what?
Play a one-off gig at one of the usual venues where you’d be lucky to make a few grand?
Take on a regular gig and get paid a few hundred bucks a night- plus a few beers and a meal- while playing to some drunken yobs and yobettes either yelling into their phones, Instagraming their food or so legless that they couldn’t tell Bruno Mars from a Mars bar?
Or, get duped into performing at one of those music con-ferences- for free- and the dubious honor of being heard by “some of the biggest names in the music industry”.
Puhleeeeze, stop that bullshit as it’s fraud, and the fraudsters playing this game should be shamed, named and drummed outta every city they operate in as these parasites ARE everywhere- as are the “music executives” with their only “power” being a name card and vague promises on a drunken or coked out night that’s forgotten the next day when reality bites as the hair of the dog enters their addled heads.
So, where’s the money? Music sales? Puhleeeze. Gigging? See above.
A music deal? In Hong Kong, only if you’re Chinese, young- 24 is old, naive, can be manufactured to look like a K-Popette, will do anything- ANYTHING- for fame- hire a damn good publicist and stylist and with the talent to act- even badly.
Movies is where there’s BIG money to be made in Hong Kong and China- especially, movies that flop- as way too many are transparent plots for big-time money laundering and ponzi schemes as what that great film, The Producers, was all about, and the money thrown at those brought in to star in these disasters is ridiculously high.
The ability to actually sing? That, like J-Lo’s Clubby warbling, can be fixed in the mix and camouflaged onstage by a chorus line of writhing dancers.
As for making $$$$$, well, if the train has left the station, hitch your wagon to a new young talent as described above and- with the right team around you- manage him, her or them with an iron-clad ten-year contract in place.
If the right offer comes along, sell the contract and look for a younger act- usually found under Models.
Every young Hong Kong male or female is a “model” and aspiring singer or actor/actress, so there’s a buffet of choices available.
On a different note- and now that his surname has been given to me: Jay Apungan.
This guy is GREAT- a superb guitarist, a singer with a sweet, sweet voice, and miles away from being yet another covers singer, or, with his three-piece band, just another of those covers band that can be a second-rate version of whoever you want them to sound like.
Sure, there’s no originality, but it pays the rent and, when that long train running has left the station and age has caught up with you, it keeps the wolves at bay.
Jay Apungan plays at Millions- brilliant venue- at the HKJC in Happy Valley on Wednesday night alongside familiar name Ben Semmens, and, if you haven’t already, this is an all-round musician with much going for him and well worth checking out.
And in a sense of sweet irony, while many flouncing around saying they’re “saving the music”- but ripping off gullible musos by having them play at their events for free- the HKJC actually PAYS musos- and on the spot.
Hell, they should be getting on their knees and thanking the club for offering them the opportunity to showcase their talents in world class venues- and audiences of over ten thousand, who, yes, come to watch the races, but, as has been proven many times over at Happy Valley, take in everything offered to them between races- and with a vital drawcard being ‘live’ music.
How one parlays this opportunity into something more? Well, one can only lead a horse to water and that god person helps those who help themselves.