Hong Kong or Bust

Kicking off the new year in Hong Kong was nothing short of amazing. We finally left the cold weather behind in Seoul to traipse around the bustling (and finally warm) Hong Kong city center.

We started our HK leg of our trip with a tram party on what is colloquially referred to as a ding ding. These double decker vehicles are one of the oldest forms of public transportation in the city, and we had one all to ourselves. Equipped with snacks and playlists provided by KKBOX (more on them later) we rode around the city in style, getting a lay of the land.

 

After the tram party, we darted off to see the famed Symphony of Lights at night in Victoria Harbour. The multimedia light and laser show features synchronized music and narration that celebrates to spirit of the city. More than that, it is an impressive collaboration of more than 40 businesses who work together to project the show from their buildings on both sides of the harbor.

 

The rest of our Hong Kong leg was spent exploring the city and getting the inside scoop on east Asian music, film, arts and culture from a series of phenomenal company visits.

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We visited Eaton House, a co-working space in Central, to meet with Winnie from KKBOX, Asia’s leading digital music subscription service. She spoke about how the Taiwan-based company maintains their competitive advantage against global megabrands like Spotify by creating unique delivery methods and leveraging local industry relationships. By utilizing a wide range of payment methods including telecom partnerships, top-up cards at local convenience stores and e-vouchers, we saw how KKBOX is able to acquire consumers in ways many U.S.-based companies have yet to explore.

Later we visited Eslite, one of the largest retail bookstore chains in Asia. The Taiwan-based company carries the biggest selection of English language publications in the region and has also established itself as a cultural space where books, visual and performing arts, design, coffee, and people come together. We saw firsthand how the company creates unique spaces within the multi-level store to connect consumers to niche local products and brands far beyond books. From tea makers and chocolatiers to cosmetics brands and leather goods makers, Eslite houses distinct brand spaces that encourage visitors to explore and interact with new brands that reflect their identities.

Our final company visit, and probably the most anticipated of the trip, was at Sony Pictures China. There, we met with senior leadership from the Production, Research and International Distribution teams who gave us their candid evaluation of the Chinese film business, the opportunities it presents and how they are approaching the business at Sony. From the quota system and co-productions to the ratings system and blackout dates, the Sony team gave us what felt like a Chinese Film 101, exposing the complexities of this growing entertainment market. While we all knew the world is watching the Chinese movie market, we were surprised to see how complex entry into the space really is and particularly how U.S. brands have to roll the dice a bit to succeed.

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All in all, our Hong Kong office visits were a whirlwind, but undoubtedly left us all with a new perspective on the business of music, arts and entertainment. While we objectively learned about the East Asian entertainment space, I think we all took home more than we expected that we can apply to our home countries and careers, wherever they may be. More to come on my key takeaways from the trip.

 

Courtney Richardson ’17

Chazen Seoul & Hong Kong

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