Interview: b2 Talent Asia – Linking Western and Asian Artists To New International Fans

Date:

Melodic Magazine sat down with CEO Jonathan Serbin and Creative Director Sean Dinsmore from B2 Talent Asia earlier this month. The Hong Kong based company is not only an artist management and music business service company, but a record label as well. B2 Talent Asia/B2 Music has been changing how artists approach new territories and their home markets as they grow in their musical career. 

Currently working with over 70 Western artists such as Charli XCX, Steve Aoki, and Troy Sivan, b2 Talent Asia helps manage their social media accounts in order to connect easier with Asian fans. Representing Asian artists such as Mrs M, one of Mongolia’s best rappers, b2 gives Asian artists the guidance and exposure in hopefully breaking the the Western markets. 

 

MM: For our readers who may not know b2 Talent Asia, can you give us a brief description?

JS: Sean and I are both from the U.S, but we have been in China/Asia for about 20 years, and in the music industry for about 25 years. The premise of B2 is that there is such a growing opportunity to link artists between the Western and Asian markets, and also to help artists in Asia find a fan base in the U.S. With the markets growing incredibly fast, international markets are integrating and developing as fans are starting to become more interested in discovering songs from all over the world. We help Asian artists reach new audiences, while helping Western artists reach a fan base and monetize that fan base base in Asia.

JS: We do represent emerging, high-profile asian artists that have an international appeal. Lately there has been a huge demand for K-pop artists worldwide. While these K-pop stars are amazing, there are other Asian countries that have talented artists who have the international appeal, but the management isn’t there. With our experience and knowledge we are able to link these artists to enter other Asian markets, and also enter Western markets such as the U.S. and Europe.

MM: How did this all come about? What made you realize that there was such a big opportunity for Western artists in the Asian market? 

JS: A lot came from living there and seeing the challenges that western artists were having when trying to enter the market. From living in China and being in the music industry for a long time, we saw that the music market was one of the fastest growing in China, yet it wasn’t easy for western artists to connect to that market. As the market grew, Artists would come and do one or two shows and then move on. Seeing how fans were left wanting more, the opportunity was present. Forming B2 three years ago, we aimed to set up an infrastructure to give artists the tools, and expertise for them to establish a deeper bond with their fans.

SD: We originally started with the idea of just doing talent management, but then we started getting several request from U.S artists. Western artists always ended up asking the same questions, and wondered why there wasn’t any feedback from Chinese fans on facebook nor instagram. We literally had to tell them that Facebook and instagram does not exist in China, and that truly became the “a-ha’ moment that moved us into focusing on social media.

MM: You guys are definitely the whole package: a record label, management, and social media experts! How’s the process of getting western artists to use Chinese/Asian social media apps? It it difficult? 

JS: Interesting question. Four or five years ago, I would say there was what you can call the early adaptors: who saw right away that these platforms were huge, and that they needed to access these platforms right away. By now, I think every serious artists who is looking to build a career internationally realizes that China strategies are a part of it, and that social media platforms are critical. With Asian social media, the artists needs someone on the ground to monitor it, and run it day to day, due to being such an active daily process. The artists cant just repurpose his or her english language post and hope to connect with a Chinese audience. You have to really localize it, and speak what’s important to them. To answer your question: it’s really demand driven, over three years of hard work and expertise, we have formed an amazing team who is doing this full time and we have developed the ability to do this. We have been very lucky to find an asian audience, it’s been hard work developing the skills and infrastructures for this process because it is not as easy how it may sound. It’s not about reposting western content, you have to find a way to speak to a Chinese fan base and see what excites them. The demand is there, as the market in china grows, artist know that there is a huge opportunity, but they also need to cultivate a local fan base.

MM: Comparing social medias, would you say Asian social media is equivalent to Western social media?

JS: Bigger! It’s actually more important in many ways. In the west, you have these already evolved channels of music such as press that really don’t exist in China. Everything revolves around social media. The fans get all their information on these platforms. Social media is more important, and is needed if you want to reach a Chinese fan base.

MM: Focusing more on music genres, we have seen your multi deals with Billboard, VIBE, and SPIN, and have noticed that the collaborations have geared more towards Hip Hop and EDM. Would you say that’s more popular for the China market? 

JS: Luckily all the genres are growing in China, some will have faster rates than others, but Hip Hop and Rap have currently been exploding in China right now, and EDM festivals are constantly popping.

SD: Those two genres are the fastest growing non-asian pop genres. Pop music in any country will always be the top genre. China has C-Pop, Japan has J-Pop, and Korea has K-pop, those will always be the biggest genres in Asia, but are not necessarily the genres that are going to cross over to the west. Except for K-pop, that has already been more western friendly to begin with. It’s all mainly R&B based, and most of K-pop has been tailored that way. But for China, we have focused on these other genres that already lean global to begin with. Hip-hop will accept anything if it’s dope and great, and it’s the same thing for dance music. We have been focusing on the genres that we thought would translate globally faster and easier.

MM: When it comes to the managing, is it vastly different to promote an Asian artist to the Western market, versus promoting a Western artist to the Asian market? Are different struggles present, or would you say the process is very similar? 

JS: The basic process is similar, you are educating a fan base about an artists that is “foreign” to them. The language can be a barrier, but with the rise of K-pop, it has proved that’s a hurdle that one can overcome. Luckily, worldwide more and more fans have started becoming more interested and motivated to find different and unique music that they have never heard before. The major thing about the Chinese fan base is that they have always been very open to trying different kinds of music. In America, a lot of Asian Pop stars for years have tried breaking into America, and for whatever reason, it seems like the timing wasn’t just right. Although, things have been changing in the American market, this can be seen with BTS’ rise to fame, and even how “Despacito” didn’t need to be in the English language for it to be considered great. It’s great to see how the Western markets have started becoming more open to other music, making it easier for other artists to be known.

MM: It’s so cool and amazing all the things you have accomplished! It’s very clear that b2 Talent Asia has helped artists grow and gain exposure, and are always looking out for them.

SD: Thank you! It’s been amazing work, and we are always trying to connect the artist with their fans. I would also like to throw in how we also have a recording studio in Hong Kong that is fully equipped! It has been really helpful to have a spot for our clients where they can keep making music whenever they want. If they visit and want to record something, no problem, we’ll just take them to the studio so they can unleash their creativity.

MM: Seeing how you are constantly making music with Asian artists, and there has been a huge rise in the Asian market, can we expect b2 to bring its Asian artists for shows in America anytime soon? 

JD: Well! We are actually bringing Mrs. M, she’s coming to the states in October. We are going to do a couple of showcases in New York. Mrs. M is from Mongolia, the country only has 3 million people, but in some of her youtube videos she has over a million views. That’s legit a third of the country! We worked with her on her first English Track, “Tasty,” and she was able to catch the attention of producer Harry Fraud who has produced for French Montana and A$AP Rocky. He was blown away and reached out, and now he’s helping produce Mrs. M’s upcoming EP. A year ago, Mrs. M was just a girl making youtube videos with her friends just for fun, and now she’s going to perform in New York and work with Harry Fraud on her upcoming EP. It’s crazy to think about the changes, and how we have seen her grow. She’s truly talented and deserves everything that is coming her way.

 

While we wait for more information on Mrs. M’s upcoming shows. It’s clear that b2 Talent Asia is defining how Western artists interact and connect with the Asian market, and allowing Asian artists to potetnially reach global stardom.

Stay up to date with b2 Talent Asia: Official Website, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin

Angel Escobar
Angel Escobarhttp://www.escofotos.com
Angel Escobar is a Senior Photojournalist at Melodic Magazine. When taking a break from being chronically online, he covers pop music from all over the world.

Leave a Reply

Share post:

More from Author

More like this
Related

Melodic Music Monday: June 17

Every Monday, we bring you a playlist filled with...

Normani’s ‘DOPAMINE’ blends experimentation and edge into smooth R&B gold

Similar artists: Chlöe, Victoria Monét, Kehlani Recommended tracks: “Tantrums,” “Lights...

Audacy Check-In: Bryson Tiller shares insights into his latest self-titled album and his evolving artistry

Bryson Tiller, currently on tour across North America, stopped...

Samy Omari Promotes Self-Acceptance in “Love You Louder”

Emerging Moroccan-American artist Samy Omari just released his latest...