'It could be the next musical explosion': Clean Bandit manager Iain Watt on the band's plan to crack the Chinese market

Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit’s manager Iain Watt has unveiled ambitious plans to break the band in China.

China is now the world’s No.7 music market, according to the IFPI, with a trade value of $531.3m in 2018. But true success in the territory continues to elude most western artists.

Clean Bandit, however, have recently visited the territory after signing a branding deal with Tuborg earlier this year, the next stage of which will see them collaborate with local star Henry Lau. Their collaboration will be released globally but heavily marketed in China and other Asian markets. The release will be accompanied by a documentary streaming on Tencent and NetEase, while Watt – who heads up the music division for the newly-rebranded YM&U management group – says Tuborg will “be spending significantly to support the release”.

“We then have another collaboration lined up with a big female Chinese artist which will be the next phase, followed by touring in market and further promotion,” Watt told Music Week.

With many of the usual online and social media channels unavailable in China, Watt says the band will create “a bespoke campaign with the local label to break them properly here”. 

China could be the next key regional musical explosion

Iain Watt  

“We are also really keen to try and introduce a significant Chinese artist to a broader global audience by making one of the collaborations a global priority release,” he added. “We are thinking this may be an opportunity for China to be the next key regional musical explosion like Latin America.”

The Chinese campaign chimes perfectly with YM&U’s plans to become a global management superpower, as revealed in a much talked-about Music Week cover story earlier this month. As founder of Machine Management, Watt guided Atlantic UK-signed Clean Bandit to become one of the first UK artists to truly crack streaming with hits such as Rockabye, Solo, Symphony and Rather Be.

“They’re almost the perfect artist for the streaming paradigm because, while they’re relatively faceless, they make amazing music that’s a weird combination of classical and dance music, so it pops out when it’s on a playlist,” said Watt. “You look at the streams that they’ve generated and it’s incredibly valuable. When I met them, I knew they were super-talented but I couldn’t have told you they’d turn into the streaming behemoths that they are now. When we did the record deal, Max [Lousada, then Atlantic UK boss] who signed them said exactly the same thing. He said, ‘I don’t know where this is going to go, they’re just really talented people’.”

* To read Music Week’s recent YM&U cover story, featuring an exclusive interview with Iain Watt, click here. To read Camille ‘Kamille’ Purcell on the songwriting secrets behind Clean Bandit’s Solo, click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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