There was news today that Canto Pop superstar Aaron Kwok, one of this music genre’s “Four Heavenly Kings”, will stage and stream an online fundraising concert on Saturday. Being an actor and dancer, proceeds will go towards helping local dancers and film crews hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s something to be applauded.
It’s also something that Hong Kong musicians who are not part of the Canto Pop fraternity should take on board with their present and future careers in Hong Kong in mind.
Without turning this into a history lesson on how and when Canto Pop happened- a term created by yours truly when writing for the American trade publication Billboard- this became the sound of Hong Kong and made millionaires of many- artists who, today are mega celebrities along with now-retired music executives, songwriters who wrote for all the big name artists, television and film executives who came along for the ride etc. It was big banquet of business opportunities. It was also pretty much a closed shop.
Everyone involved in keeping Canto Pop alive have enjoyed various slices of a very lucrative pie. Canto Pop is still very much alive and kicking and is well supported by the Chinese media and, of course, local audiences who grew up listening to its artists.
There’s that old chestnut about how out of chaos comes opportunity. This cannot be a better truism for horse racing at a time when the world is in lockdown mode and it’s the only game in town with, quite literally, a captive audience- and zero competition from far more popular and mainstream sports like football, tennis, rugby, darts, curling, lawn bowls…
Now, more than ever before, is the time to grab this opportunity with both hands and bring in some new troops- if possible. Those who have the creative and marketing chutzpah and are given the freedom to broaden that customer base.
Sure, keep Dad’s Army and the sons and daughters of Dad’s Army to plod along and warm up the same old porridge and feed it to those who are the (kinda) living embodiment of the saying that one cannot teach old dogs new tricks. That’s fine. But this customer group is hardly the future and shining beacon of where horse racing is heading- if it’s heading anywhere other than going around in circles and making neighing sounds.
With the world pretty much plateaued out and at Point Covid-19 together, old school mediums like television are making a comeback. There’s a very different online media landscape rapidly taking shape. And yet, horse racing still looks to be tippy toeing on eggshells and refusing to see how much the wants and needs of consumers are changing- and have changed.
Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, Instagram- they’re all being used differently and more creatively than ever before because we- you and I- have had to prioritise everything in our lives and adapt to the “new normal”. It might be one of the best things to come out of whatever it is we’re going through.
The human race might just have tired of being part of the rat race and are saying, Stop the world, I wanna get off.
With time on their hands, many are exploring new pockets of multi dimensional creativity and embracing change.
With blinkers firmly in place, horse racing is still too often about three talking heads, sometimes with masks on, positioned here and there to adhere to the very important need to keep their distance in order to quickly quell the spread of Covid-19, and from where they serve more warmed up waffles to their followers.
Add to this those self promoting boom bang-a-lang twittering tipsters, speed maps, websites where Han Solo would find difficult to navigate his way through and with everything often being about the punt and the punt and the punt and…Oh, please, enough is enough.
Having been in the music industry when the smug major music companies and those heading them refused to read the tea leaves, failed to look up and see the vultures hovering over them and invited in that online Dante’s inferno world that changed everything overnight into something unrecognisable today, horse racing should be aware of the Trojan horse that might be wheeled in.
Instead of playing with worry beads and chanting the mantra about how we’re living in very different times, it’s time for horse racing- and every other industry- to relook at their business models and ways in which to make their product relevant to the “new normal”.
The sheeples? They’re so busy sharing and caring and scaring the hell outta each other through information overload that they’ve lost the ability to think for themselves. But it might return given the circumstances we all face today.
Below is something I had forgotten I had written until someone sent it to me earlier today asking, What’s happening with CreateHK? What is, if anything?
Over a decade ago, Duncan Pescod, the government’s fluffy puffy boy, got on his high horse and announced a GLOBAL search for someone truly world class when it came to creativity and inspiring new local talent. This person was going to head up the uniquely named CreateHK.
We didn’t get Steven Spielberg. We didn’t even get Tori Spelling. We ended up with some bloke named Jerry Liu. “Jer” did his tour of duty and retired a reasonably wealthy man. What had he accomplished? Pretty much squat.
It’s extremely messy out there. And instead of everything simplifying itself, the clutter around us is allowed to build. We’ve become hoarders. We have also let the tail wag the dog. Over and over again. Become an invisible enemy’s bitch.
Instead of doing everything possible to change things around, we go with the flow of mediocrity. Way too much undeserving politeness to maintain a certain status quo. To be liked.
Rightly or wrongly, the word “malaise” was used by me recently to describe the state of horse racing. Horse racing everywhere.
This had nothing to do with the exploits of Winx, Enable, Cracksman, Beauty Generation, the brilliantly produced Cox Plate Day presentation for overseas consumption and the derring do in the saddle of riders like James McDonald, Tim Clark, Brenton Avdulla, Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy, John Allen, Ben Thompson, Damien Oliver, Craig Williams etc and outside of Australia, Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy, William Buick, Ryan Moore, Zac Purton, Joao Moreira and Christophe Lemaire.
“You missed the best ride I have seen by a jockey.” It was a message sent by someone relatively new to horse racing. A female in her late Twenties. French Chinese. A regular at a Happy Wednesday meeting. Someone met around three years ago for the first time at Adrenaline when helping her fill out a Six Up ticket. She was talking about Douglas Whyte’s winning ride last night at Happy Valley on the John Moore trained Good Beauty.
Though out of Hong Kong, I had watched a replay of the race. To say it was vintage Douglas Whyte wouldn’t be doing the ride nor the rider justice. And certainly not to those still learning about the incredible career of the legendary South African rider. About how very very few ride the idiosyncratic city track better. Possibly no one.
It’s a little reminiscent of Hansen and when “MMMbop” first hit the public consciousness. Young was being sold to especially pre pubescent girls. Not by a solo act. By a pop group- three brothers in fact- who could really play. They still can. But time and age often change everything.
A few years after Hansen came all those young Disney acts riding on the success of High School Musical. Yeah.
Something is wrong. Very wrong. It sounds like a murder of crows out there. But they’re the sounds of silence. The noise is emanating from the online world. You know, the one divorced from reality. The one with very little sense of humour. Or no humour. And where extremely angry people have an opinion about everything. Politics. Music. Hashtag movements. And of course, sports. Everyone is unfair game.
This online world is where anything goes. It’s a dysfunctional world that hides behind Freedom of Expression. And Freedom of Speech. But what exactly does this mean? And what are its side effects?