Folk Singer Fined for Skipping Some Songs

2018-01-10 11:04:40

Attention, singers performing in China: Skipping songs on your set list can land you in trouble.

Chinese folk singer Zhao Lei was fined 50,000 yuan ($7,700) for failing to make it through his preapproved set list during a concert. It was the first such penalty issued under China’s regulations for commercial performances, according to a list of 2017 violations announced Tuesday by authorities in Beijing. The rules are intended to protect consumer interests.

In November, the 31-year-old Zhao had cut his Beijing concert short without notifying fans in advance: He only sang 27 of the 40 songs from the set list he submitted to the authority that grants permission for public performances, Beijing Youth Daily reported. Tickets for the event ranged from 280 yuan to 1,280 yuan.

Without mentioning Zhao’s performance, the Beijing culture administration, which imposed the fine, said that the organizers had neglected “to inform the audience of content changes in a timely manner.” The hefty penalty hinges on the 2009 regulation for deterring unfair competition and safeguarding the rights and interests of business entities and audiences.

However, many of Zhao’s fans rallied behind the singer, who is widely credited for popularizing Chinese folk music among young audiences. They said Zhao is dedicated to his music and will learn from the incident.

“His concerts are 2.5 hours long, and he sang all the popular songs,” one fan wrote on microblog platform Weibo. “The tickets weren’t expensive, either. The fans at the show were satisfied and spirited.”

But some agreed with the penalty. “That’s how it should be,” another netizen commented. “If you buy a ticket to see a show, it has to be worth the price. Consumers should be protected.”

In China, domestic and international artists are required to submit their set lists for approval from authorities before giving performances, and subject to disciplinary action over various offences. Last year, Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber was told not to bother touring the country because of his “history of bad behavior,” while in 2010, a pair of Chinese singers were fined 50,000 yuan for lip-syncing during a concert in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Contributions: Joyce Siu; editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: Zhao Lei performance on stage in Beijing, July 16, 2017. VCG)