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Institutions and Industry


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The Chinese music industry is dominated by Taiwan and Hong Kong. In the new millennium also these record companies have seen their income of CDs decline drastically. Increasingly, music companies have had to find different commodities to sell. This has led to two opposing trends.

  • Music companies control and are involved in every aspect of a star. Already in the 1990s Hong Kong companies signed so called 360 degree deals. Boy and girl bands were successful in the early 2000s, but the investments were also substantial. Currently, South-Korean entertainment companies dominate this model in East and South-East Asia. Although talent shows and soap opera’s have offered similar grooming opportunities within the Chinese-language pop industry, this model was not widely adopted in Taiwan, Hong Kong or the PRC.
  • Music companies become publishing houses that outsource much of the labor that goes into creating a pop star back to the artists themselves. These companies favor artists with their own repertoire, star persona and even fan base. This also means that the gap between the band scene and mainstream pop stars decreases. Especially among Taiwan-based artists there are many examples of bands (Mayday, Soda Green), singer-songwriters (Cheer Chen, Deserts Zhang, Tanya Chua, Zhang Zhenyue) and rappers (McHotdog) that have worked themselves up to the top of ‘the pyramid’ (Simon Frith). Even the mainstream pop star Jay Chou composes his own music.
  • Additionally, both stars and indie bands create their own companies and labels.


These are the income levels in the top of the market:

  • In 2011 Jay Chou earned around 660 million NTD.
  • Jolin Tsai around 620 million NTD in the same year.
  • The mainland Chinese singer Chris Lee reported an earning of 51 million RMB in 2011.


 For Taiwanese superstars the income is roughly spread like this:

  • Endorsements (65%). This includes new forms of collaboration such a product placement in on line content.
  • Concerts tickets. (5%). In contrast to the West, in Chinese-language pop the record company is often involved. Because of the small margins concerts are seen as a promotional activity.
  • Private concerts (25%). This includes concerts for which no tickets are sold, such as year-end concerts for employees in Taiwan and government-sponsored appearances in the PRC. Whereas a major star may cost 3 to 4 million NTD for a 4+1 songs, a second tier Taiwanese artist may cost only 500 thousand NTD.
  • Collectibles (5%). This includes CD sales, but also biographies and other commodities that their fans buy.


* Updates on orchestra in China (2014)

Nowadays it's like museum sector, every provincial city in China is building or has built up a grand theatre as a basic cultural infrastructure for the local public.

Most of them are directly administrated under the local cultural bureaus, but are managed by some experienced cultural communication companies. The typical example is the major theatres chain in China running by Poly Culture Group - managing most of famous theatre/concert halls in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Wuhan etc. with around 53 theatre/concert halls, 5.5000 seats. In 2013 Poly Culture Group organized around 2400 performances in China in their theatres. With this theatre chains, it's also easier for them to plan performance tour to by their resource as much as possible. In China nowadays, most of theatres/concert halls are running by two giant cultural groups, one is the Poly Culture Group, and the other is the China Performing Arts Agency. They manage major of the performances and theatres business in China.

For the Symphony Orchestras in China, almost every province in China has its provincial level orchestra for local cultural event. But the high level orchestras are always in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou etc. those 1st tiered cities.

Some major orchestras as below with their official websites:

National Symphony Orchestra (Taipei)

China Philharmonic Orchestra

China NCPA Orchestra

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra

Beijing Symphony Orchestra

National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra

China National Opera House Symphony Orchestra

China Film Symphony Orchestra

Gui Yang Symphony Orchestra

Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra China

Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra

Tianjin Symphony Orchestra

Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra

China National Orchestra (the only orchestra with all the Chinese traditional/folk music instruments)

Some provincial orchestras which don't have their official websites, but also very important to locals are:

Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra

Shandong Symphony Orchestra

Harbin Symphony Orchestra

Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra

Liaoning Provincial Symphony Orchestra

Changchun Film Symphony Orchestra

Guangdong Provincial Symphony Orchestra

Hebei Provincial Symphony Orchestra

Hunan Provincial Symphony Orchestra


For the complete chapter please download the PDF below