HelloNanjing speaks with Holger Carlsson, co-founder of LW Productions, a film and music company based in New York but specializing in the Asian markets. Holger recently visited Nanjing, touring with Chris Garneau as his Manager for Asia.
HelloNanjing: So what is it that you do, exactly?
Holger Carlsson: Well, we manage a few artists for the world market, with an emphasis on Asian markets. In some cases, we also have the licenses to distribute their music in Asia.
HN: What are the challenges of producing shows in China?
HC: There are a few things, but in a nutshell I would say the overall experience of dealing with live performances on a club level. This goes for both venues and fans.
For example, at Chris Garneau's Castle Bar show, you saw that at first, the audience really didn't know how to 'ask' for an encore. They were just clapping softly and politely, so I turned to two of the fans and asked them to make some real noise. As you saw, they caught on quickly, and after the second encore, the whole club was chanting and clapping for a third one – which Chris happily gave them.
As for challenges on the club level, I think that venues in China will step-by-step learn the importance of following the technical specifications, and in some cases, get the necessary financing to upgrade their equipment.
HN: What kinds of upgrading do you think Chinese clubs need, generally speaking?
HC: In general, I see the need for better microphones, more powerful PA systems, and a more disciplined approach to sound checks – just the basic stuff, really. Although I must say that in my experience, both club owners and club technicians have a very positive attitude to both the artists and their technical needs.
HN: Do you feel positive about the future of the live music scene in Nanjing?
HC: Oh definitely. It's a huge untapped market with lots of young people that are hungry for more. Of course because of the growing economic power in China, a lot of artists are – or should be – eager to get established in this market.
The onus falls partly on the venues, I think, to make sure that they can offer a high-quality space that offers patrons value for money, and at the same time, provide the artists a chance to sound and look as good as possible.
HN: At present, do you feel that live shows are profitable in China?
HC: Kind of. With proper production, you should be able to make money, but it takes a lot of experimentation to find the right formula. Also, the artists will definitely have to cut back on their standard requirements to keep the costs down.
HN: Is merchandising a big part of the bottom line?
HC: Not yet. It is in North America and Europe – things like t-shirts, CDs and so on. But in China, so far it seems to come down to mainly ticket sales – and properly produced and promoted shows.
HN: So it's easier to make money with North American shows?
HC: Yes and no. The competition over there is very fierce, here in China not so much yet. So we intend to keep chipping away and working with our fans, our Chinese partners, and local venues. I think it's definitely going in the right direction.
HN: Thanks for your time, Holger. I look forward to seeing you back in Nanjing soon, with more bands greeted by bigger crowds.
HC: Definitely. I am looking forward to coming back. Thanks!
For more information about Holger Carlsson or his company LW Productions, check out www.lwprod.com