We get asked this question almost every week for the last 20 years so we thought it would be about time we wrote about this subject.
There are a variety of reasons and we have outlined some of the ones that as a company (Entertaining Asia) has experienced over the years that may give a little bit of clarity to this question. Hopefully this creates more discussion within the local community on how we can find further solutions to have more amazing artists visit Hong Kong.
Dates – The dates may not work, where they only have 1 or two weeks to tour and they just do not have enough dates to come to Hong Kong. For international DJs, at the moment the best days to book them are Fridays and Saturdays. That is only two days of the whole week and so you are competing against all the other city venues and festivals.
Venue Sizes - We have some large venues and many small venues, but not much medium sized licenced venue spaces that can be easily hired. Those that do fit into the medium sized venues from around 400-1,000 are often booked well in advance. On an artist tour, other cities could have bigger venues or even festivals that would be more attractive for the artist to perform at then to come here.
Venue Facilities - Often the venues that are available do have not the technical equipment, washroom facilities, bar setup etc. and therefore all of this needs to be brought in and setup for a show. Therefore the setup costs of a show can be considerable, besides the artist cost.
Venue Licensing - Often venues do not have all the licenses you need to be able to make the best it can be. For example not having a liquor license, do this has to be applied separately and unless the event is long and a decent capacity, then it may not be applied for, so no liquor options at an event.
Finding Music - What we have found when traveling around Asia there seems to be more opportunities to hear music. From local radio stations to in store music and publications. There just seems to be more of an opportunity to hear music and also new music. Hong Kong used to have HMV 864 radio in its music store and it was live online too. That station closed down some time ago.
Music Exploring - Hong Kong is a fast pace busy city and from our perception, exploring music and discovering new music is not on the top of everyone’s daily priorities.
Statistics – On Social media and music sales / music streaming services, the record labels and artists can find out where their biggest markets are located. So with that data they get to have a better idea and success on which cities they should actually visit and likely sell out. Of course nobody wants an unsuccessful show.
Sound – You may say there are lots of venues around Hong Kong. But because of development and residential areas all over the place, noise does play a big part on events happening in certain locations. To get around this of course you can find a place where there are no residents, but then people may not want to travel that far. So you need to find a place where you don’t get complaints, which can be quite difficult.
Fee – Basically when calculating the venue costs, bringing in all the technical, bar, lighting, marketing etc. and the venue capacity, the artist fee just cannot be covered.
Travel – Traveling around Asia has got a lot easier over the years so actually it is not that difficult to go to another city for a few days just for a festival or show so people can always travel to the artist instead of them coming here. Personally we have done it many times when we have gone to another country in Asia just to see a performing artist.
So what do we do?
Search for new spaces - We actually made a submission to Central Market website some years ago to suggest that the venue is an open space, licensed multi-functional event space for public, private, cultural and community events from Chinese Opera to live music shows. We think the location is perfect, but of course with decent renovations for sound proofing too, so that the space could be used late into the night if required. We did get a reply that our suggestion was received, but we are not actually sure what the decision was for this space.
Share more – We created hkclubbing.com 20 years ago to let people find out more about artists in Hong Kong and from around the world and if the artists from overseas do come to the city they hopefully can find out about them on the website each and every day. We encourage everyone to share music on their socials and with their friends so people get to enjoy the music they love more. If you think someone you know will like something too, then share it!
Go to more shows – Go and explore more shows in Hong Kong, even artists that you have not heard before until you saw their date confirmed for Hong Kong. Go on YouTube or sound cloud and when you see an artist’s name check their music out and see if you like it. Clockenflap is a great example of some amazing artists each year that we have never heard of before. What we do is get the full line-up and search them one by one, then make our wish list of who we want to see and then use their app to make sure we do not miss anything. Some of our favourite artists we saw there, that we did not know beforehand. The more events are sold out / busy, the more shows Hong Kong will get in the future. This applies not just too international artists but locally based artists too.
Going back to the Central Market idea, if we have a government built, funded and subsidised multi-functional 24 hour venue without sound issues, with fully licensed, equipment setup (like a multi-functional stage, sound system etc.) that would be amazing! Hopefully we will get something like this one day. If it does exist do let us know as we are not aware of it.