Friday, July 30, 2010

MusicDish*China Sounds Pod7 - Interview With MOGO Founder Kenny Bloom


Listen To MusicDish*China Sounds Pod7 on Fairtilizer:

This edition of the MusicDish*China Sounds podcast, presented by Metal Postcard Records, features an interview with Kenny Bloom of MOGO, the only online music TV platform in China. Bloom has been a music industry veteran of China for over 30 years and is the founder and CEO of VisiTek Holdings Ltd., which builds branded lifestyle content platforms in China, most recently the official Major League Baseball site in China. Bloom now lives in Beijing, though he is originally from the Bronx. Below are excerpts from the podcast interview:

Tell me about your branded lifestyle content platform called MOGO.

"MOGO has several platforms - music, upwardly mobile, and lifestyle which is everything from wine to food and home decorating. It's just about everything that someone would need to know in China. We also have a sports platform and just launched a major league baseball site for China. But we started with MOGO, which is the music platform in China. We're the only national music video channel in the country. "

So you're really different from other video platforms like Youku, which are basically the equivalent of YouTube. Your content is really original content that you have actually produced.

"We've produced over 6000 original shows in the past 2 _ years, and what we're trying to do with MOGO is create a voice for all the local indie bands in China, and by indie I mean everything. It could be heavy metal, grunge - everything but pop. Almost all media in China is state owned, and when it comes to contemporary music, it's 100% pop. What we're trying to do is give a voice to the tens of thousands of local bands around China that don't get on television or radio or get published in the magazines. "

You're at a cost disadvantage, and consumers aren't willing to pay for content. Where's the economic viability of video and is it viable today? If not, what needs to be done for it to become viable?

"What you need to do here is to adopt a peer to peer technology that allows you to reduce your bandwidth costs from 70 to almost 90% depending on how you fine tune your technology. In China, peer to peer, when you're talking about video content - what happens is you're actually spreading little pieces of your video around the country and using other people's computers and bandwidth to distribute your content. It's actually safer to do it that way. You only have pieces of it from all over the place, so it allows you to really save a lot of money. "

So you were talking about how you want to aggregate, basically concentrate your audience on a smaller set of videos. How can you do that from a practical point of view?

"Well what you want to do ultimately is have a linear channel. By that I mean something more along the lines of an MTV type of format where you have a 24 hour channel. The problem with video online is the click and play format really doesn't work for a number of reasons. What you would need to have is a host, like FM radio, who introduces the audience to new content and new videos and new genres of music that if they were left to their own devices they would never discover. "

You said as a broadcaster, we have to be responsible. I found that very interesting because it made me think of Google and their recent problems with the Chinese government, though in the end everything worked out, I guess, since they got their license to operate in China renewed. For you as a broadcaster, who's dealing in music and especially dealing in rock and roll, punk, metal, urban, etc., how is it to operate in China? Or let me put it brutally. Do you feel like you have censors breathing down your neck?

"Not at all actually. There's a double standard here, and when you're talking about broadcast tv going out to 1.3 billion people, so they say, so there's a different set of standards for that. "

And that's actually controlled indirectly by the Chinese government? It's CCTV basically.

"Not indirectly - directly. CCTV is the national channel, but every city and province has a number of channels. They're given the mandate to broadcast to an audience at the lowest common denominator. In China, we have an enormous population of people who have very low education. On the internet, you have people with a relatively high education. The Chinese government has adopted a double standard, and I don't mean that in a negative way; it's actually a positive thing. They know that people who know how to access the internet have a better education than those who don't know how to access the internet. Through that, they turn their cheek in a way and allow us to put things on the internet that would that would never be allowed on mainstream television. "

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