China music memorabilia boom: 'The love affair has only just begun'

"The times, they are a-changin'..."

Bob Dylan wrote those lyrics in 1963, and if you had told him that almost 50 years later he'd be performing concerts in China, then a closed country, I doubt he would have believed you.

Then again, if you'd told him those same hand-written lyrics would one day sell at a Sotheby's auction for £267,400 he may not have believed that either...

But the fact that Dylan is scheduled to play in Beijing and Shanghai this week is proof that times do indeed change. And, if you're in the collectibles business, it's vital that you change with them.

In the last few years I've seen the market skyrocket thanks to the rise of Asian collectors and investors, and dealers in everything from fine wines to modern art have all adapted to reap the rewards.

As regular readers of PFC will know, the results have been spectacular and World Record auction prices have become a regular occurrence.

But there's an area of the collectibles market that remains untapped in China - and it's one that I know very well...

During my 35 years in the business, I've seen at first-hand how the field of music memorabilia has boomed into a multi-million dollar industry.

Autographs, guitars and stage-worn clothing have all become highly-prized items for collectors - particularly baby boomers who grew up with legendary acts such as Dylan, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.


Chinese audiences will soon have the chance to see the great man in action.

But the thing is, none of these acts had the opportunity to perform in mainland China and, consequently, their music was rarely heard. Even more modern acts were restricted: Michael Jackson never performed there, visiting just once in 1987 as a tourist.

But changing attitudes in China mean that artists like Beyonce and Eric Clapton have performed in the country in recent years, while music festivals have also started to flourish. And, in 2007, Ticketmaster bought a majority stake in Emma Entertainment, the Chinese promoter and ticketing service.

The fact is, this could be the first generation of Chinese collectors to grow up with regular concerts and access to music from around the world. What's more, this can only mean great things if you're a memorabilia collector.

Just ask anyone who's sold wine, watches, art or classic cars in Hong Kong recently...

The Chinese appetite for live music is constantly growing and, if it's anything like their appetite for Lafite 2008, then the music memorabilia business could be in for a boom of its own.

Western collectors may have had a 50 year head start on their Chinese counterparts when it comes to rock 'n' roll. But if recent sales have told us anything it's that they're more than willing to play catch-up.

As always, PFC will keep you up to date with the collectibles markets as they are a-changin'. Or you can get more information by contacting our experts at:

+44 (0) 117 933 9500

All the best, until next week




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