Wise up: What not to miss at this year's WISE think tank

A two-day gathering of free thinking, fine minds and even finer music

Photo: Mavi Phoenix
Founded by Beijing-based entrepreneur Philipp Grefer (the man also behind FakeMusicMedia), WISE: The Future Think Tank aims to encourage dialogue about technology, culture, science, and business, bringing together a plethora of speakers from different industries to pose questions and discuss their respective fields.

Set to inspire interdisciplinary exchange, WISE focuses on the ever-accelerating narrative of digital life, science and technology, while expanding to further areas such as style, culture, music and business. This year, WISE has gathered over 40 domestic and international thinkers, artists and professionals to help create a diverse toolkit for wising up (sorry) on the future.

Spanning across two full days at the UCCA and Danish Cultural Center, this year WISE will also feature two nights of killer live music presented by European music platform the Reeperbahn Festival. Here’s just a few of our top picks at this year’s festival. Head to WISE’s official site for a full list of details.

Registration for free access to the Reeperbahn Festival is now closed. Fortunately, tickets (both single and two-day tickets) to WISE Festival's talks also allow for priority access to the Reeperbahn Festival, and are still available for purchase here.


Empire business vs. cultural diversity: The future of the global concert business
F Berthold Seliger
Photo: Berthold Seliger

Today’s music industry is an unabashed monopoly, with all parts of the business controlled by giant conglomerates who operate all over the globe, including Europe, the US and right here in China. With outside investment recently flooding into live music, these investment funds have tightened their control of festivals and companies, where it’s no longer about the music but rather on ticketing, sponsorship and the collection of big data. Berthold Seliger, owner and founder of Seliger Concert agency, speaks about the need for stricter antitrust legislation and enhanced consumer protection, plus the development and protection of independent cultural centres in order to preserve cultural diversity. A must-see for those interested in the ins-and-outs of the music industry.

Galleries are for snobs: Democratising art consumption in China
F Eric Reithler-Barros 2
Photo: Eric Reithler-Barros

Systems that seem anachronistic sometimes beg to be updated, and sometimes it's a wonder that they still haven’t been. Whether you're a passive observer or a serious collector, to some degree you're absorbing artwork every day. So when it becomes time for you to consume art a little more actively, why is that galleries seem so daunting, intimidating and inefficient? And in this sharing economy, is owning artwork even an important part of the experience anymore? In this segment, NYC-to-Shanghai media evangelist and entrepreneur Eric Reithler-Barros examines why China might just be the ideal petri dish for a radical re-examination and streamlining of why and how we consume art every day.

Chinese culture going global: The success stories and the pitfalls
F George van Wetering
Photo: George Van Wetering

Compared to South Korea, China has arguably not experienced the same level of successful cultural exports, lacking the same worldwide fascination (and roaring success) as its neighbour's K-pop wave. Despite Chinese movies being massive box office hits in the Mainland, their limited export to international audiences has restricted their influence. On the other hand, however, the rapid internationalisation of apps such as TikTok shows the ability of Chinese companies to adapt to international markets, while Chinese artists touring abroad indicate a growing appeal for Chinese music. In the panel, George Van Wetering, founder of GAG Group, and Tom Simpson, Senior Director of China-Britain Business Council, analyse the reasons behind the successes and failures of China’s cultural exports.

Reeperbahn Festival

F Catnapp

Argentinian artist Amparo Battagalia (aka Catnapp) is a Berlin-based producer, singer-rapper. Drawing inspiration from influences as diverse as Beyoncé and The Prodigy, much of her work comes from a post-internet, post-rap era of music. Cited as Berlin’s 'favourite electro-kitten' in 2016, Catnapp runs away from conventional styles, focusing largely on experimental ethereal sounds, creating a flawless fusion of rap, pop and electronic tunes. If you’re sick of musical comfort zones, here’s your antidote.

Mavi Phoenix
F Mavi Phoenix

Austria's Mavi Phoenix blends pop, rap, and R&B into a hard-to-classify, but catchy, mix. Born Marlene Nader to a family with Syrian roots (her grandfather came to Vienna in the '70s as a refugee), the rapper-singer-songwriter grew up listening to rock acts such as David Bowie and Queens of the Stone Age. At age of just 11, she began playing guitar and producing her own music on GarageBand after her father gave her an old MacBook. In 2013, Phoenix won Lautstark, an Austrian music competition which was soon followed with the release of her 2014 debut EP, My Fault.

The Hormones
F The Hormones

Formed on the campus of Sichuan Conservatory of Music in 2013, The Hormones exploded onto the scene after a brief brush with TV fame. Their participation in popular TV show Bands of China soon led to a bout of musical soul searching resulting in a decided rejection of their image as female musicians in traditional media. They’ve since redefined themselves, releasing their debut LP Beckon in early 2018.

F Jungstrotter

Jungstötter is the moniker of singer Fabian Altstötter. As an adolescent in small-town Germany, he founded his first band Sizarr with two of his childhood friends. They soon released two records, which paved the way out of their hometown Landau to shows all across Europe, and in places as far as SXSW in Austin, Texas. Now Jungstötter arrives in support of his solo album Love Is, released in April of this year.

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