top of page


The controversial growth of the scene across Asia

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Written by: Amy Shaw

Most producers are aware of the potential housed in Asia. The electronic music scene has been growing in popularity exponentially in the continent over the last few years, making it an incredibly appealing location to host a festival or event, or to expand your fanbase. For this reason, many events have been popping up in Asia, from Ultra to Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). But, while Asia does house a great deal of potential, there has been an increasing level of resistance from government officials due to misunderstanding the scene.

Following several drug-related deaths, there has been an increasing number of cancellations. Hanoi in Vietnam even banned all music festivals for an extended period of time. The truth is governments in Asia closely associate electronic music festivals with drug use, a fact which is impeding growth in the continent. This fact alone is changing the way electronic music is seen in Asia, portraying it as an enemy in the eyes of many, particularly following a number of drug-related deaths.

The number of electronic music festivals in China was expected to grow to over 150 over the course of this year. This is a truly staggering figure, considering the fact that in 2016 there were just 32 electronic music festivals in China. This undoubtedly illustrates the exponential growth the genre has seen in the country, and the continuing domination it holds there.

The problem facing brands trying to host events in Asia is that governments in the continent are very conservative and are against events that, they believe, cause disruption. The governments see these events as a threat to public well-being, making the likelihood of cancellation and other issues incredibly likely. Reason Xie, program director at Looptopia had this to say about the issues:

“Most Asian governments would rather you not do parties so you don’t cause trouble. The authorities wouldn’t want to take responsibility because a festival, to them, is like a liability.”

In Taiwan the 2F: White Party music festival was banned after an explosion killed 15 people and injured hundreds more. Before that, the event had been running smoothly for almost 10 years but had been criticised repeatedly in the local media, something which is incredibly common in Asia for electronic music events. Another notable case was when Future Music Festival was cancelled on its third day. 19 attendees were arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and six others died. Although the local media said that the deaths were drug-related, the pathology reports revealed that the deaths were actually caused by heatstroke. This is yet another illustration of the negative portrayal that electronic music festivals face in Asia, limiting the growth of the industry, and giving many a negative view on the scene.

Iqbal Ameer, the chief executive of Livescape Group spoke to the New York Times about his views on the subject, stating that drug abuse long pre-dates electronic music festivals in Asia:

“Drug abuse has been around even before music festivals started becoming a norm here. What we would want to do is encourage the relevant authorities to tackle the real problem, which is drug abuse, not music festivals.”

This year, a huge stir was caused when Ultra Shanghai and Beijing both ran into troubles due to government issues. In particular, Ultra Beijing, which was originally supposed to be a full-size festival, was held in a club where only the mainstage artists were invited to perform.

There are now so many examples of festivals that have either been cancelled, banned, or impeded by government decisions in Asia over the last couple of years. These issues throw into question the potential that electronic music really has on the continent, despite its growing popularity. The decisions to limit the genre in the continent have been incredibly disappointing to fans and organisers alike. The fact is that electronic music only continues to grow in popularity in Asia and has the potential to generate a great deal of revenue. But, the government cannot ever be overruled, making it difficult for events to take a risk and organise an event in any of the Asian countries.

In this case, it does seem that electronic music festivals have been unfairly scapegoated by authorities and government officials. That being said, there is still an abundance of potential for artists in Asia. This includes, advertising to fans there, engaging using social media platforms and organising tours. Although the risks are high when arranging an event in Asia, arranging a single show in a club is far less risky than arranging a major festival. For this reason, you should continue to strategise towards expanding your influence in Asia, particularly if fans in the continent support your music.

Connecting with your audience in Asia is incredibly important as electronic music remains incredibly popular in the region. Even though festivals are struggling, there is still plenty of potential revenue up for grabs that could be generated from streaming, merchandise and solo shows. Plus, fans that are currently living in Asia may decide to travel overseas to watch you perform, if you make a good enough impression on social media. Despite government measures, there are still plenty of opportunities to build a fanbase in Asia and increase your revenue. You simply need to understand how to connect with the audience and avoid being held back by government measures. With so much potential in Asia, it is important not to overlook your fanbase in the continent.



bottom of page