Sony Music is a US-headquartered company with offices located everywhere around the globe. Just like the other major labels, the overarching goal is to grow; as Tong tells me, Sony Music exists to help its artists build their careers and make money so that the business can make money.
For him personally, however, the way he does that is by bringing a cross-cultural perspective. "Historically, it's always been more one-sided. Our biggest artists are by and large still American. We're part of that cultural export system," he says, giving a recent example of Adele's big release. "Our job as a label is to make sure she continues to be a global artist. We're bringing Adele to the world, but what about the Chinese star that wants to travel the other way?" In the coming year, he plans to continue to find innovative new ways to do that.
Right now, the main strategy is based on crossover collaborations, where Chinese megastars meet superstars of the United States. That helps both parties: for instance, earlier this year, 24KGoldn was paired with Lil Ghost (小鬼 in Chinese), a household rapper. Through this collaboration, the song flew back up to the top of the chart, but the American artist also got more than 30,000 new followers in China over the span of 24 hours. "Before, the Chinese audience listened to the original song, liked it, but didn't necessarily feel like they needed to get to know the artist," Tat notes. "Crossover collaboration refreshes the track and makes people take a closer look at the original artist."
Another big part of the strategy is advising musicians on their creative direction. Often, artists' vibe and style change as they move through their careers: the BTS sound that blew up in Korea is completely different from that of when they rose to worldwide fame. If before their music was usually in minor mode and brought up topics of depression, sadness, and heartbreak, now it's all about the major upbeat songs that make everyone happy. As an A&R, you need to consider these things when the artist transitions from local to regional to global, understand what the international market likes, and guide the artist in finding the sweet spot for their sound.