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Part 5: Entertainment, Teaching, Fashion and Monopolisation

Despite being a new art form, beatboxing has been frequently requested and invited to feature in all kinds of commercial entertainment (shangyan), due to its entertaining and musical nature.

In the UK, which probably boasts the largest number of professional beatboxers in the world, according to Jack Hobbs (Hobbit), a leading British beatboxer who has been actively involved in the scene since 2003, a beatbox artist agency called 5th Element has been running since the year of 2008, and it aims to engage beatboxers in national and international events, gigs and workshops. Once recruited by the agency, each beatboxer is bmanaged by one manager and works within a booking system.

Unlike the UK, in China, there has not yet been an agency specialising in beatboxing. Nevertheless, it does not stop Chinese beatboxers from being booked either as a freelancer or as an artist signed by entertainment companies. As social media, such as weibo and wechat, is gaining increasingpopularity, a freelance beatboxer would usually put his contact details on his personal or artist page. Payment can vary from 50 yuan to 3000 or more per gig, depending on factors such as proficiency, booker, and personal networks (guanxi). A few beatboxers who started their career earlier on, for example, 范元成 (Fan Yuancheng a.k.a Lil Dude), 飞机 (Plane) and So Tsz Lun (Heartgrey), have already become professional full-time beatboxers with successful and promising careers. From clubs to popular national TV shows, these professional beatboxers have proved that beatboxing can be, and it already is, a type of profession in China.

Weibo Screenshots of Fan Yuancheng, Plane and Heartgrey:

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Beatboxing in Teaching

At the very beginning of 21st century, UK Beatboxer and pioneer TyTe created the first beatboxing tutorial videos in the world on the Internet. Thus, beatboxing started as a free online resource. Most ‘new school’ beatboxers start learning beatboxing by watching online tutorials. As the scene grew larger and faster, the need for learning increased with growing interest from outside the network of beatboxers as well.

Demand distribution on the keyword of bbox on Baidu Index:

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The graphic shows that the most frequent related keywords alongside bbox, which is more frequently searched than beatbox and b-box on the Chinese Internet, are 谱子 (Score), 口诀(mnemonic phrase) and 教学 (tutorial), two of which are also being searched in a growing level of need. Naturally, we can predict that more and more people are seeking beatboxing teaching resources both online and offline. In almost every capital of each province, many beatboxing workshops have been opened up for people who are interested in this new kind of art form. It has also become a common way for professional beatboxers to make a living: teaching in the daytime and performing at nighttime.

However, beatbox performing is one thing, and beatboxing teaching is another. Although beatboxing has not yet developed a fully matured and legitimate theoretical system (TyTe is working on it - ed.), beatboxing teaching would still help organize and systemize the structure and composing of beatboxing. With better training, rather than online self teaching, it would only contribute to the quality of the Chinese beatbox scene.

New teaching methods have also been developed thanks to new kind of technologies. HMBrothers, a beatbox duet formed by two young Guangzhou-based beatboxers, are probably the first beatboxers in China to combine teaching with Wechat (mobile social networking application), QQ messenger video chatting and Alipay (支付宝) as a new kind of business module. It allows new learners to access to real-time workshops online despite being in different geographical locations.

Workshop promotion of HMBrothers’ Wechat:

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Beatboxing in Fashion

As the number of beatboxers rapidly grow in China, the market of beatboxing has been gradually developing.

(Number of followers on beatbox Baidu Tieba: 81,835; Number of post: 2,608,736 (Data updated 4, May, 2014) )

(Ranking of Baidu music topic Tieba: 13;
Number of registered member: 71546)

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Numerous original beatbox fashion brands have been launched in the recent years.

Godzilla Station, Viking Age, Beatboss, etc are some of the original beatbox fashion brands created and run by beatboxers. Even though hip-hop fashion in general is still not part of the mainstream fashion in mainland China at the moment, there is still a huge and potential market niche for the uprising culture.

Screenshots from Godzilla Station, Viking Age and Beatboss’ Taobao stores:

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Beatboxing fashion in China mainly focuses on graphic design and is not yet tailored for mass production. Beatboxers design original LOGOs or patterns and print them on already made T-shirts, baseball caps or other related fashion items.

Beatboxing Monopolisation

Due to political reasons, social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and twitter are blocked in Mainland China, hence stopping most people in China from accessing to the resources. Thus beatbox videos are made 'rare resources'. However, it is still possible to access those blocked sites via proxy. YouTube is the main platform for beatbox video sharing, and people who are capable of downloading videos from YouTube, despite copyrights infringement, are uploading them on Chinese video streaming sites, such as Youku and Tudou.

According to the data shown on the three main uploaders' personal channel web page (data updated till 8 April 2014), a total number of 5638 videos have been uploaded, with a total view of 10,620,742 times. With absolute amount of video resources at hand, they have become the very main beatbox video sharers on the Chinese web.

On one hand, these video sharers break the restrictions on the freedom of knowledge, sharing and spreading more advanced beatboxing knowledge for most Chinese beatboxers and people who are interested. They play such an important role in the Chinese beatbox community that, thanks to them, the community is actually less isolated from the rest of the world. With the latest videos from overseas updated everyday, the level of the Chinese beatbox community is getting increasingly higher at the very same time.

On the other hand, as most videos are downloaded and uploaded without permission, such act has made possible copyright infringement.

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