Mobile phone could be the savior of music

        A day after announcing that he would compose the theme song for the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, legendary music producer Quincy Jones promised yesterday to save the crumbling global record industry - starting in China.

        A 76-year-old producer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, told at his Shanghai hotel room that “We are going to reinvent the record business, in China, because it’s dead.Not might, we are going to. I don’t know how long it will take, but we’ve got to do it quicker than in the next decade. The American music business went down $22 billion last year, 44 percent, man. The whole Middle East is a joke, the world is a joke. I haven’t figured out all the details yet. I’m still fishing. But, hopefully, we’re going to do it through cell phones, by putting it on every cell phone in China. And that’s why I want for it to be closer to China Mobile, and the guys at Blackberry and so forth, and that’s the answer (to piracy).”
        But Jones tends to translate words into deeds.His feats include producing the biggest-selling record of all time (Thriller), discovering Oprah Winfrey (as producer, he cast her in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple), being nominated for the most Grammy Awards (79), and arranging the first song ever played on the moon (Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon, played by astronaut Buzz Aldrin in 1969) on a tape recorder. Next up is the Shanghai Expo theme tune. He can add this to a growing list of credits in China, along with serving as producer of the 2007 Shanghai Special Olympics’ theme, and as artistic adviser to the opening and closing ceremonies of last August’s Beijing Games.
        During his nationally televised acceptance speech on Sunday night, Jones, who is studying how to write Chinese characters, said: “I am becoming more Chinese every day.” Seeing the Olympics as a bridge to greater cultural understanding, he elected to stay involved in the project while other US celebrities such as Steven Spielberg bowed to pressure and withdrew.
         “I’ve been touring the repertories here for the last two years, and they are just incredible. I’ll also go to see (Chinese pianist) Lang Lang in Boston next month. But you don’t need a famous person to make a great song. A great song just stands on its own two feet. Even Sinatra and Streisand couldn’t make a bad song stick, it will be “an incredible honor” to work with Chinese composer Tan Dun on the expo theme song, but added that nothing has been set in stone yet except that Chinese artists and musicians will be involved. “Songs are like whispers from God,” added Jones, who himself has more life stories to tell than the Bible. “They come from the unconscious. You just have to listen. I see songs in my mind like paintings. First they are sketches, then oil paintings, then lines appear and so on.”
         He said “Instead, we have put our own consortium together, a consortium of the highest minds in hi-tech, with people like Shawn Fanning, who started Napster, and Alan Kay, one of the creators of the Internet. I changed my mind. I don’t want to do that anymore. (US President Barack Obama) and I had lunch and we talked about it, but he didn’t ask me. He may do, or he might never, but it doesn’t work.”
        Having spent a good part of his life dedicated to humanitarian efforts, including a musical collaboration with Jackson and Lionel Richie on the record We are the World (1985) to fight famine in Ethiopia, Jones recently turned against a tide of public opinion to have him nominated as the United States’ first-ever minister of culture.

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