Music in China: The Beat Goes Online

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It’s around 11:00 pm on Friday at Yuyintang, one of Shanghai’s main live music scenes, and an appreciative crowd of a few dozen Chinese and foreigners cheer as Duck Fight Goose finishes its last act, a compelling blend of exotic synthesized harmonies and driving beats. After the show, the four members of the experimental rock group, one of Shanghai’s top bands, gather in a room on the second floor of the bar. “We all have to work nine-to-five,” says half-shaven front man and guitarist Han Han, whose day job entails project management at an events planning company. Just as with most local bands in the universe, Han Han and his compatriots aren’t banking on making money from doing what they love. Their songs can be downloaded for a price, or streamed for free on Xiami.com, a popular Chinese music site. CDs are sold at the club entrance for RMB 30 a pop. Corporate sponsorship pays more, though still not enough to get by. “You cannot sell a lot in China,” says Han.

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