Priya Dewan

Artists in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are making creative use of collaborations to expand their fanbases there, according to Priya Dewan, founder of APAC-focused music consultancy Gig Life Pro.

“There is a huge trend of collaboration between markets across APAC that is very exciting,” Dewan told Music Ally, having recently stepped down from her position as The Orchard’s VP of international marketing (APAC) and MD of Southeast Asia and South Korea to focus on her own company full-time.

“Not only does it result in some really gorgeous creative projects that blend unique cultures and backgrounds, but it allows for artists to reach new fans in different markets and for fans to have great, organic exposure to new artists they are likely to fall in love with.”

Dewan’s twin roles at Gig Life Pro and The Orchard has given her a direct insight into music trends across the APAC region, including how fan communities have been springing up around genres and artists there.

“There are so many global and local platforms available across the region for fans to connect through, but more interestingly within these platforms you will find bubbles of communities of sometimes millions of fans who are sharing and connecting through music,” said Dewan.

“We are seeing these communities expand out globally, but one of the greatest qualities of the ones originating in these markets is the openness, connectivity and influence of these communities.”

Gig Life Pro has been capitalising on the enthusiasm for cross-border cooperation with its own business, having launched what Dewan describes as “LinkedIn x MasterClass for the music industry” last year, signing up more than 430 members so far.

The company has also hosted more than 300 online networking events – its in-person meetups also returned this year – and published more than 500 articles for its APAC audience, with a mobile app on the way. It has also launched consultancy services, and worked with South Korean creative-industries body KOCCA on its October MUCON music and technology conference.

Through this work (and network) Dewan has a keen eye on the challenges that face music companies and artists in the APAC region, as well as the opportunities.

“The major challenge we face today, that has actually existed in APAC since I moved back 11-plus years ago, is fully understanding that every music market in this region works quite differently: from how the companies and services supporting artists are structured to how consumers discover and consume content,” she said.

“There are also still a lot of gatekeepers and a major lack of infrastructure to support a rapidly growing community of independent artists and bright and eager young professionals. There is also very little time or investment being made on educating, empowering and developing talent: not just creative, but especially professional talent.”

Gig Life Pro is trying to tackle those issues through a mixture of education, networking and consultancy, with plans to run more events across the region in 2023. Dewan is keen for executives from outside APAC to attend those too, to meet with local artists and industry people, and to understand the region’s intricacies.

“There is definitely still a general global perception of APAC being one region where in reality is actually more fragmented than Europe. For each market in Asia not only are there different languages, cultures and platforms, but there are so many other business and social nuances in play, from when in the week major records are released, to what you are allowed to do and say on stage,” she said.

“‘Greater China’ is China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau – very different countries culturally who use different versions of Chinese. ‘Southeast Asia’ has eight completely different major music markets: eight countries with different language, cultural AND business nuances. Japan and Korea operate completely differently from the rest of the world AND from each other. Australia is a continent with unique domestic markets that you need to fly between.”

Even just physically navigating the APAC region as an artist has its challenges, especially if they are only playing one city in each country, with all the flights, immigration and customs red tape to deal with.

“There is also a generalisation that fans in APAC will consume whatever is popular in Western markets. I have seen many artists and teams around artists assume that they are as popular in APAC as they are in markets where they have spent years and a lot of money building up their profile, which seems unfair,” says Dewan.

“The last dangerous assumption is that all markets in APAC have the spending power that they do in other more developed markets. GDP, currency fluctation, politics and socio-economics are not topics that most people in our industry consider when building out plans to promote in new markets, but they all play a very big role when trying to figure out your current and potential value in a market.”

One of the other key APAC trends, of course, is the global success of artists from South Korea, with BTS and Blackpink leading the charge internationally. However, this isn’t just about two star acts from a single country, as Dewan explained.

“There is definitely a lot more interest and opportunity coming from new markets for music from Asia Pacific. K-Pop helped to open up a lot of channels to connect these markets, but there are a lot of terrific success stories to look at with artists from markets like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and the rest developing new interest and success in North America, Europe and Latin America,” she said.

The key for these success stories, some of which Dewan has helped to develop, is building teams with global mindsets, keen to find the right partners and flexible strategies to reach audiences across the world.

“I truly believe that an artist or industry professionals of any genre from anywhere in the world can build a successful global career by understanding how the industry works,” she said.

“The different revenue opportunities, the different platforms they can use to reach and develop new fanbases, who to work with globally and also locally. That is the entire inspiration behind Gig Life Pro.”

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you build the strategies for artists to thrive in new international markets!

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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