Taiwan is often recognized as the heart of the Mandopop genre, being the birthplace of many Mandopop icons such as Jay Chou, Cheer Chen and aMEI. In recent years, many new indie acts have also surfaced from the Taiwanese music scene, branding themselves as an amalgamation of Mandopop and other internationally-inspired genres, such as math rock band Elephant Gym and chill soft rock duo The Fur.
At the heart of this indie movement is Taiwan-based music platform StreetVoice.
StreetVoice serves as the Taiwanese equivalent of SoundCloud, where aspiring musicians are able to upload their own music to be discovered by users. Founded in Taipei in 2006, many of Taiwan’s most renowned indie bands today, such as AccuseFive and Mary See The Future, can trace their roots to the platform in their early days.
According to its website, StreetVoice began as a platform to support “the beginning of dreams”, where indie musicians are able to share and view each others’ works, utilizing the power of the masses to nurture the careers of a generation of musicians in the Mandopop scene.
Each day, the editorial team on StreetVoice will also identify new works that are recommended to app users and website visitors, while musicians are also able to share their updates and details of upcoming performances to their followers.
“With the decline of the traditional music label and the rise of indie music culture globally, StreetVoice is gradually taking over the role and responsibility of discovering new musicians, and letting our youths showcase their creations,” said StreetVoice music director Tree Chen.
Beyond the StreetVoice platform, the team has also expanded into the media industry with the establishment of Blow, an online publication focused on the Mandarin-speaking indie music community across Asia.
StreetVoice also created The Next Big Thing, a gig-based platform that auditions indie bands across Taiwan and showcases performances from at least three acts each month to reach a wider ticket-buying audience. This is in response to growing support for ticketed performances in Taiwan, and the platform sold all 1,000 tickets in its recent Taichung gig, the highest ever for The Next Big Thing.
“With the establishment of our platforms, StreetVoice is gradually shaping itself to become an ecosystem to incubate and nurture up-and-coming musicians. In the modern age where there are many avenues to discover new acts, we will not claim that any hot acts now owe their success to our platform.”
“But for many of the popular acts today, from earlier acts such as Mary See The Future and IGUband, to more recent acts like AccuseFive, Bestards and Collage, we can definitely say that we have given them a push along their journey.”
Going forward, StreetVoice will continue improving their community and discover features to better engage its users, and plans to eventually have an English version to introduce more foreign audiences to Mandopop. The Next Big Thing has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and has since shifted its main operations online. The platform will be releasing a brand-new programme as well.
As the Taiwanese Mandopop scene continues to evolve, Chen observes the eventual formation of a unique Taiwanese music identity.
“Taiwan’s indie scene began as an emulation of UK, American and Japanese underground cultures. In recent years, it has been heavily influenced by many other countries as a result of a rising indie music wave online. This forms a strong but flexible foundation that when paired with support from the relevant authorities, allows many creators to explore their preferred genres and influence the traditional mainstream view we have here.”