|Abstract: ||The Taiwan government began to provide subsidies for indie bands in 2010 to participate in various international music festivals. That very same year, io, The 13 Band, and Mary See the Future participated in the Liverpool Music Festival. In the following year, Tizzy Bac, We Save Strawberries, and My Skin Against Your Skin took part in Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival (Korea). In addition to giving direct financial support to these indie bands, the policy also provides an entire package for promoters to participate in international music festivals through a bidding process. For example, in 2013, the indie label Taiwan Colors Music won the bid to take part in China’s Strawberry Music Festival, while the live venue brand The Wall Music participated in a project at the Fuji Rock Music Festival. Such music policy looks to create a win-win situation for the indie music business and state interest. By playing at international venues, indie music business and practitioners expand their experiences and vision. By supporting local bands to play at international venues and by making the export of music a vital part of the cultural policy, the government hopes to see the promotion of Taiwanese culture globally.
In fact, Taiwan’s creative industry policy is following that of the United Kingdom. In London in 1998, the former president of Taiwan, Chen Sui-Bian, met Anthony Giddens, a sociologist whose book Third Way influenced the New Labour Party deeply. Chen also launched a speech at the London School of Economics, which is following Third Way. This British political route influenced the Democratic Progress Party’s (DPP, ruling party in Taiwan from 2000 to 2008) political advocate deeply. Additionally, the British cultural policy also influenced Taiwan’s cultural policy. Since 2002, the DPP launched a flagship creative industry plan – Challenging 2008: Six Year National Development Plan – which began to focus on the audiovisual industry. Navigating the Taiwanese music industry was tougher at that time. On the one hand, Taiwan gradually lost its status of ‘the center of Chinese music’, and on the other hand, Taiwan also faced the threat of China and had to seek international support. Therefore, the Taiwan government began to widely subsidize the music industry, including production staff, producing and distributing the album, recording, studio, live house, and bands/musicians for performing abroad. This research focus on the music export policy after 2010.
A famous trailblazer in the British cultural policy is the creative industry policy. In the 1990s, “Cool Britannia,” promoted by The Labour party (in the New Labour’s period), successfully exploited Britpop and youth culture. The symbol of cool, as Jim McGugian (2009) notes, relates to power, encouragement, and youth: a counter-culture attitude. In other words, the UK government delicately combined the cool rhetoric with Britpop, integrating it into the national image. Homan (2013) also says that the period of the New Labour government’s creative industry policy helped push pop music to its “prominent place at the government table” for benefit of “Cool Britannia” pop music export business (p.388).
Taiwan’s music export policy aspires to offer the same sort of connection, which is what this paper explores. Although the government does not use the term, “cool,” its music export policy encourages indie bands to present their version of Taiwanese “cool” culture at international events. By supporting Taiwanese indie music bands to perform globally, the government is targeting to connect its national image with the “coolness” of indie music. However, any form of cultural power always involves some allocation of resources. We focus on this aspect by examining to what degree the policy has been properly implemented.