London's iconic Abbey Road studio recreated

By BO LEUNG | | Updated: 2017-05-19 10:09

It was an image that captured the spirit of the 1960s, the four members of the Beatles, with flared trousers and long hair, simply strolling across a zebra crossing on Abbey Road in London.

The photo of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, was taken for the cover of the 11th Beatles album, Abbey Road, which was recorded in the Abbey Road studios and released in 1969. It was the last album the band made, although Let it Be, for which recording started in 1968, was the fi nal album the band released. It hit the shelves in 1970.

Now, as part of a wide-ranging deal between Universal Music and China's internet giant Tencent, a working replica of the studio will be built in China. The new studio will include a state-of-the-art recording and mastering facility.

Tencent and the world's largest music company, Universal, also agreed to develop "Chinese recording artists and advance a vibrant local repertoire" and announced a landmark licensing agreement that will make Universal Music's content available on streaming platforms in China.

The Beatles photo shoot took 10 minutes, but it has made the street, the crossing, and the studio one of the most important music destinations in the world. Hundreds of tourists try to recreate the photo every day, which must be quite testing for drivers.

The photo also inspired rumors about the band, with one speculating Paul McCartney was dead because he was the only one barefoot and out of step in the picture.

In 2010, the North London zebra crossing was given Grade II listed status. The status means the structure it is bestowed upon is nationally important and of special interest.

But the studio deal is probably secondary to Universal's desire to market its music to China and nurture Chinese talent for domestic and international markets.

Cussion Pang, CEO of Tencent Music Entertainment, said the agreement will protect copyrights and promote paid subscription services.

"In addition, with the establishment of Abbey Road Studios China, we will work together with UMG to help local artists produce top quality recordings for distribution in China and across the world."

The multi-year agreement will enable Tencent Music Entertainment Group, a unit of the Shenzhen-based company, to distribute music from Universal Music's roster of labels and global stars on its streaming platforms QQ Music, KuGou and Kuwo.

Martin Lau, president of Tencent, said: "Our partnership with the world's leading music labels will further demonstrate our commitment to cultivating a vibrant ecosystem that benefits music lovers, artists and songwriters."

As part of the collaboration, both parties will work together to find new ways to develop artists, innovate business models and reinforce a robust copyright protection environment on the Chinese mainland.

Tencent, which struck a licensing deal with Warner Music Group in 2014 and Sony Music two years later, now handles the music from all three major labels in China. Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said: "UMG has been engaged in the unique evolution of the country's music business and I'm looking forward to working with Tencent to bring exciting new artists and services to music fans across China."

In China, Tencent provides more than 17 million songs to 600 million active users every month. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the country is the 12th-biggest market globally.

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