The importance of being free: Fu©Kin Music as alternative pop music production
ABSTRACT Fu©Kin Music, founded by MC Yan, former vocalist/lyricist of the Hong Kong hip-hop group LMF and founder of the Chinese hardcore street gear label NingSiBuQu, is an alternative music label showcasing a music culture that acts as a form of resistance to the mainstream popular music industry. When LMF first utilized the popular music industry and the media to negotiate its financial survival, the group soon felt strangled by the industry’s conventional standards. From this, Fu©Kin Music set out to defy traditional forms of music production and distribution, giving groups like LMF the space to thrive. The songs of Fu©Kin Music can be seen as an alternative form of cultural production that represents an effort to de-commodify popular music. This paper endeavors to analyze the products of Fu©Kin Music in order to shed light upon the possible impact of alternative cultural production on the operational logic of the mainstream music industry. In light of the controversy brought forth by Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price, this paper will also discuss the importance of understanding the implications of ‘free’ from different perspectives.
KEYWORDS: Cantopop, music industry, hip-hop, slam poetry, free
CHU Yiu-wai is a professor in the Department of Chinese and Head of Humanities Programme at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research focuses on postcolonialism, globalization, Hong Kong cinema, and Cantopop. Recent publications include The Local Myth: Discursive Production in the Age of Globalization (in Chinese)(Taipei: Xuesheng, 2002), Between Home and World: A Reader in Hong Kong Cinema (co-edited with Esther Cheung) (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 2004), The ‘China’ in Contemporary Western Critical Discourse (in Chinese) (Beijing: People’s University Press, 2006), and Lyrics of Your Life: The Transformation of Hong Kong Cantopop (in Chinese) (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing, 2007).