So, there we were thinking which female singer in Hong Kong we could use for a new song- and went through the list of usual suspects until wondering if we- and they- REALLY knew their “real” voices.

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The problem in Hong Kong is that unlike the UK, Oz, the US, Canada and Scandinavia, there is a VERY small talent pool of professional musos and with each jockeying for gigs- gigs in Hong Kong, Macau and, sometimes, China- that pay the rent, but seldom really stretch anyone, musically- a pity ‘cos there are some excellent musicians who just don’t have the time to be original and create something they can be proud of- and which might lead to bigger things.

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So, by being on Remote and going from gig to gig doing what one is paid to do, somewhere along the way, that musical identity disappears, knowing what is selling and working for music fans is lost,  the big fish in a small pond syndrome strikes along with lazy singing and playing.

This might work for those audiences in hotel lounges who clap like seals at what they might consider to be “jazz” or “soul” but which would be laughed off stage in any club in NYC, Tokyo or Amsterdam where music fans gather and know Steve Gadd from a gadfly.

In the small pond that is Hong Kong, musical corniness is raised to obscene levels of importance.

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This is why we’re now working with female singers from Scandinavia- excellent CONTEMPORARY singers who work to their strengths and have their distinctive styles- and, hopefully, work with recording studios from that part of the world and where you don’t pay good money for sessions and then get the bum’s rush ‘cos the engineer has to suddenly leave- quick- as he’s also in some “indie” band and has another gig.

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Are these studio people in Hong Kong even any good?

Of course not. Most are crap- but what to do? It’s Hong Kong and one settles for Okay Is Good Enough. But, there are always options and no one should ever be held to ransom.

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This leads me to something which someone new to Hong Kong asked: Why are there no Chinese bands and such a lack of Chinese female singers playing gigs and why is nearly every band and singer hired by clubs and hotels from the Philippines?

Sure, there are budgetary constraints involved and bands from the Philippines are, let’s say, cost-effective plus this is the way it’s always been done and few can see that the wheel was broken decades ago.

However, there’s also a cultural no-no going back decades when it was frowned upon by Hong Kong Chinese families to have their kids play in bars or clubs.

It was a lack of face, it was the domain of “lowly” musicians from the Philippines and it’s a stigma which still lasts today.

Karaoke is fine, but going out, being seen playing gigs as a professional musician is a no-no.

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Today, Chinese artists make records which often leads to doing movies and big money-raking concerts as this is what pulls in the Chinese-speaking audiences throughout Greater China.

Plus, which young Chinese girl doesn’t want to be the next Faye Wong or Teresa Teng?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-prz663c9g

The foreign, or gweilo muso is reduced to being a bit player in the grand scheme of things.

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Having said this and worked for music companies where the corporate mantra was often, “International doesn’t sell” and where very good acts, especially from Scandinavia and signed to “worldwide deals” didn’t even have their music marketed or released, there lies a very big problem: Underestimating the new music fan, not just Hong Kong, but in this region, and not giving them what they want- which is a change.

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This is a very hip- and diverse- customer segment that goes clubbing, downloads new music, has the time to know what they want and are listening to everyone from Fun and The 1975 to going back to The Clash, Velvet Underground and Pat Metheny to the more commercial world of Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Bruno Mars.

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Here is an opportunity that many of these gigging musicians are missing out on as, like in the standard- I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face- they have grown accustomed to just punching in and punching out as if working in a bank and hanging in there waiting for that pension fund to mature.

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The thrill is gone- the thrill that made someone decide all those years ago, Music, man, THAT’s what I wanna do.

Sure, many are still doing it, but, sadly, in half-arsed ways and outta sync with today’s consumers- and something all those who book these acts for their gigs- all those overrated and old school hustlers now promoted to roles of “musical directors”- are guilty of as, they, too, are living in the past, unwilling to take any chances, and, well, to put it kindly, happy being their bosses bitches and rolling over and doing tricks to save their asses.

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Put it all together and what you have is a bland old stew and not any new Bitches Brew while losing touch with the times- the musical times- and how, why, when and where to push the creative envelope.

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