Two months on from Soma’s controversial deal with the Dream Factory, it seems the local record label are preparing to pull the plug on their arrangements with Zhijiang and instead combine with one of Beijing’s premier livehouses to create MAO Shanghai.
According to our sources, the investors behind MAO Beijing are investigating the possibility of opening a venue in Shanghai and are looking to partner with Soma. Few details are available and no deal has been finalized yet, but negotiations are ongoing, with both parties hopeful that things can be tied up within a month. Soma’s existing arrangements with the Dream Factory run until early August. Meanwhile, Soma’s partnership with MAO would be in “a venue that they have had their eyes on for quite some time,” according to China Music Radar – though it’s not currently clear where this will be.
When news broke about Soma’s deal with Zhijiang Dream Factory back in April, heated debate followed about what was best for the scene. Although some saw the move as a cold-hearted business deal with no consideration for the community ethic that had helped the scene grow, there was a general consensus that a regular gig venue to rival Yuyintang was needed in the city. If the Beijing livehouse is anything to go by, MAO’s entrance into the Shanghai fray could be a positive development.
Opened in Spring 2007 by Japanese record label Bad News, MAO has established itself as one of the premier live music venues in the capital. MAO Beijing is a dedicated live music venue with a good set up and a quality soundsystem courtesy of another of the Japanese investors, M.S.I. speaker company. We’d expect a similar quality of space for MAO Shanghai.
Soma have struggled to get the crowds in at the Dream Factory during their short tenure. The biggest audiences have been for shows that were booked before Soma announced their deal, while their own gigs have seen disappointing attendances. They are probably hoping that any potential partnership with MAO will lead to a change in fortunes.