If you are a European or North American reader then I have some bad news for you. You are not as significant as you thought you might be. In fact, based on population alone you are only a quarter as significant in the music world as perhaps you thought you might be. OK, let's calm down a little bit now, it's not as bad as all that. However based on sheer potential audience volumes alone there is one inescapable truth that is a direct reflection of the way global economies have changed in recent years.
To set the scene here no doubt you may be aware that countries like China have become economic powerhouses of late. Indeed the rise of this particular economy reflects on the growing economic strength of the South East Asian region broadly. Certainly in my home country, Australia, you would have to have you head buried in the sand not to realise the significance of this. The backbone of the Australian economy is so inextricably linked to this region that we can ill afford to ignore it.
A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a TV show syndicated to a national network here called 'Pop Asia', which essentially is an hour long hit parade of K-Pop and J-Pop tunes that happen to be the 'thing' for that week. Now while I confess the content wasn't exactly my go-to genre I was struck by the incredibly high production values and therefore investment that was being poured into this market. Much has been said about Stock, Aitken and Waterman (SAW) building their, quite honestly, factory production line techniques and applying them to any artist willing to subscribe to it.
What I see on shows like Pop Asia simply blows this idea out of the water and takes the approach to an almost ludicrous level. Now to be honest that sounds a little unfair but what is clear is that the market demands it. It is taken to a level where you might consider SAW to be pioneering in one respect but rank amateurs by comparison.
To put this into some sort of perspective and attempt to explain my opening statement, the rising economic expectations of the region has driven popular culture to levels that are sometimes unfathomable to those not familiar with it. Just on potential market size alone SE Asia commands levels something like four times that of both Europe and North America combined. In typical Asian style the efficiency at which content can not only be created but made available in mass distribution becomes an almost a self fulfilling prophecy in its own right.
The downside of course is that it leads to higher levels of disposal. K-Pop and J-Pop bands for example come and go very quickly. Most bands you may never see again, the one hit wonders are the norm, rather than the exception. Longevity is not the catch cry here and what is obvious is that the unseen producers rule in an environment where the fusion of music, broadcast and popular culture is never been more pronounced.