Date
20 August 2017
Music record sales in Hong Kong have fallen 84 percent over the past 25 years amid widespread copyright infringements and internet use. Photo: AFP
Music record sales in Hong Kong have fallen 84 percent over the past 25 years amid widespread copyright infringements and internet use. Photo: AFP

HK music industry urged to change business model

Hong Kong’s music industry should change its business model and move away from its reliance on album sales amid widespread copyright infringements and use of the internet, an academic said.

Professor Anthony Fung, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, cited the case of South Korea’s music industry, which has been very successful in promoting the K-pop music genre all over the world by promoting its artists and their brand of music instead of selling their records, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.

“The Korean music industry now only invests in the image and products of the singers and asks the singers to participate in social activities,” Fung was quoted as saying. “Hong Kong is too slow in making the change.”

He also criticized the government for not making macro plans for the whole cultural and creative industry.

“The Korean government has helped in the development of K-pop and movies in stages through its cultural policy, but the Hong Kong government still insists on free-market principles, which make the music hard to sell overseas as there is no income source,” Fung said.

Music record sales in Hong Kong have fallen 84 percent to just HK$400 million (US$51.4 million) last year, from HK$2.5 billion during their peak in 1989, as a result of widespread piracy, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

The local music industry’s golden years in the late 80s coincided with the territory’s booming economy and the rise in the popularity of the karaoke, said Ricky Fung, chief executive of IFPI Hong Kong Group.

About 60 to 70 percent of the industry’s record sales were derived locally while more than HK$1 billion came from overseas.

However, the emergence of CDs as a music recording vehicle in the early 1990s also gave rise to rampant copyright infringements, Ricky Fung said. 

By 1999, record sales in the territory had dropped to HK$980 million, he said.

The government launched a series of crackdowns on factories producing illegal CDs, but the campaign was ineffective in dealing with the widespread music piracy. Hong Kong’s copyright laws, which were behind their Western counterparts by about 10 years, were also unable to cope with new methods of copyright infringements.

The rapid rise of the internet by the turn of the century contributed further to the decline in music sales. Record sales, including copyright fees for digital copies, were less than HK$400 million last year, the report said.

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