Sound Q&A: Motorola Rocks China

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Motorola: Motomusic
Motorola: Motomusic
Remixes have become a major tool for musicians to gain exposure to different audiences, spark a renaissance for older acts and build hype for younger ones. The formula works in any language, as Ogilvy China is proving with an innovative new campaign for MotoMusic and Motorola's Motorokr phones, which introduces a Chinese rock legend to a new, younger audience. Cui Jian, considered the father of Chinese rock, has been acclaimed for incorporating a distinct Chinese sound into Western rock styles. His songs were used as anthems for the protesting students at Tiananmen Square in 1989; he's toured the U.S. and the U.K.; and he's shared stages with the Rolling Stones. Ogilvy China asked DJ Hyper, DJ Hybrid and Sugar Daddy to remix some of Cui Jian's songs, which are available for download at MotoMusic. We spoke with agency VP Peony Wu about the project.

Where did this idea originate?
The goal for MotoMusic is to help lead the music revolution in China, so we try to provide innovative ideas to promote the discovery and the legal sharing of digital music. Crossover projects have been on our mind for quite some time; we're always looking for some of the more famous artists to collaborate with, and Cui Jian has been a rock icon for 20 years. This year is actually his 20th anniversary in China's rock industry. We liked the idea of selecting one of his songs to be remixed, and in the end we picked three songs for DJs to work with. It's a pretty new idea for China, because Cui Jian is all about being the rebel—he has his own revolutionary ideas about China. We're going to the nightclub and electronic music scenes to promote his music to young people in China, and we have the campaign site, music downloads and an online music mixer.
What is Cui Jian's significance in Chinese pop culture?
Most people in China know about him, though he's kept a bit of a low profile in the last couple of years, promoting mostly underground music rather than performing on his own and speaking to his fans. But people are still talking about him, so we want to allow younger people to get to know him better. It's also about promoting and celebrating local music as opposed to listening only to music from the States or Europe. About 70 percent of the music we offer is local music—Canton pop or music from Taiwan or Japan for the Chinese audience.
What was Cui Jian's and the DJs' reaction to the idea?
The idea of using his music online for people to download was very new to him, and he was excited about expanding his fanbase. The DJs themselves not only appreciated the opportunity to work with some hardcore Chinese rock music, they're also thinking about doing a tour in China to showcase this piece of music. We've also developed a CD and LP to distribute at the [June] Asia Pacific Music conference in Hong Kong. We want to show that we understand the significance of all forms of music, not just the idea of listening on a digital platform.
Are you planning to expand the project to other artists/DJs?
We're thinking about it, but since this program was launched only about two months ago, we're going to wait to get more feedback. So far, it's been very positive.
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