In the recording studio, four middle-aged men sat around eating a bunch of melon seeds while chatting with their feet up.
Beginning with Gong Liangguang, if you took stock of the others: He Guan, Mao Xiaorun, and Ye Zhou, each one could be regarded as a famous senior in the industry. However, because they were in front of their acquaintances, they were very relaxed and the appearance of their big feet destroyed their usual artsy atmosphere.
“It’s boring.” Mao Xiaorun glanced up at the ceiling. “I don’t like coming to this building. It’s better for me to practice vocals in my studio. Besides, smoking and drinking are forbidden here. I don’t understand how so many people can stay in here working every day. Is it not like being jailed? “
“You are the only one who thinks this way. I don’t want to drink here.” He Guan glanced at his watch, and his foot, which he had crossed, was shaking violently, “Ah!~, LaoGuang, when did you get to know this kid? You didn’t tell me you were familiar with him when I saw you at your party the last time? How come he is so popular now?”
“I also met him at the party the last time.” Gong Liangguang too had no explanation for the speed with which Luo Ding had become popular. “Talent. He’s very talented.”
“Stop.” They all sneered at this. Often people who worked together were able to privately weigh the personal ability of their colleagues, so they acknowledged that there were indeed many talented people in the entertainment industry. However, the entertainment industry was a place where it was too difficult to get ahead. It was not something that could easily be summarized with the word “Talent” .
The mouths on these old men were no less inferior to that of eight old women. As celebrities, there was so much that they couldn’t say in public, but in private they had no such scruples. Starting from discussing Luo Ding’s talent they dragged in a large number of artists who they had deemed qualified.
It was unknown who mentioned Cao Dingkun first, but before they were aware, the topic had already involved the deceased.
“Well… It’s a pity, it’s really a pity.” Even Mao Xiaorun, who hadn’t spoken until now, expressed some regrets. “Cao Dingkun, I don’t know what to say. Simply tenacious. He had a stubborn mind.”
“”Yes, to set a goal and then to work hard towards that goal. Your eyes shouldn’t see anything except that goal”. This was how the music industry was in the past. A senior who is like a brother to me also started his career early and he worked with Cao Dingkun before the latter became popular. At that time, he told me that if such a person could not succeed, then he must have offended someone. There are 24 hours in a day, but Cao Dingkun spent 18 of those hours in the practice room just dancing without speaking. For three meals he only ate cooked vegetables and drank egg whites to protect his throat. Look at the current stock of celebrities, how many can even manage themselves ? Cao Dingkun was only twenty years old at that time.”
He Guan sighed: “He really had a lot of room to improve his vocal skills, but unfortunately halfway he switched to the TV and Movie industry and delayed his singing.”
Ye Zhou interjected at this time: “Don’t sit here and continue to take the music circle so seriously, if Cao Dingkun had still been singing and dancing at this point in time, it would have been a shame.”
Several of the people in the room looked at each other and their expressions were bad.
Although these words were not pleasant to hear they were indeed facts. The domestic music industry had been declining and the period of true glory was long past. Cao Dingkun’s departure from the industry was indeed wise.
Today’s music scene was not just about vocal skills. While this situation was still okay in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The mainland, which did not have a particularly mature music market mechanism, had not ushered in spring, and was still waiting in the cold winter. Due to the neglect of art in education, there were not many domestic singers who could compete with foreign musicians. Singers also need to learn and grow. It will take a long time for a singer who was unable to even read a music sheet before debut to really create a classic.
Yet, unexpectedly there has also been an influx of Japanese, Korean, European and American styles. A large majority of the major groups of domestic album buyers aged 15 to 35 have been absorbed by Korean stars with their advanced packaging.
Further, nowadays with the popularity of digital music few people are willing to spend money to buy a star’s work. Producers are also unwilling to produce records for small unknown singers if they think it cannot sell and it is considered a loss of money if the profit does not reach a predetermined value.
In the long run, agencies were more inclined to allow artists to develop in the lucrative film and television circles. As a result, other than through talent shows, few companies were invested in uncovering talent from among the common people.
The supply and demand markets were balanced, but not in a way anyone would wanted to see it.
So, Cao Dingkun’s decision to jump across industries in a timely manner seemed to be … really exceptionally wise.
Everyone was in a bad mood and Mao Xiaorun had to shake his head: “You’re right, he was already a top performer among domestic entertainers. So why would he want to go drag-racing? Alas …”
No one answered his question because after the news of Cao Dingkun’s death was confirmed many in the entertainment industry felt incredulous. Cao Dingkun’s external image and style was so good that it was unexpected that he would be killed so bizarrely in a drag racing accident.
Luo Ding stood outside the door, his hand held up as though preparing to knock. When Gu Yaxing saw that Luo Ding had not moved for a long time, he couldn’t help but ask, “What’s wrong?”
Luo Ding smiled, knocked and his put his hand down lightly. “Nothing.”
The four men in the room immediately sat upright and restored their serious outward image: “Please come in.”
Luo Ding slowly opened the door and seeing that he had spoken to all the people in the room before at Gong Liangguang banquet, the smile on his face was just right : “Gong Liang laoshi, Mao laoshi , Ye laoshi, He laoshi, Hello, I am sorry for being late. “
Mao Xiaorun could now understand where Gong Liangguang’s love for Luo Ding came from. Staring at this child’s pair of clear eyes which were filled with laughter, and then hearing his clean manner of speech, they who had seen too much darkness in the entertainment circles, could hardly resist this long-lost feeling of spring breeze.
Mao Xiaorun still remembered the image of Luo Ding holding a guitar and Pan Yiming sitting and singing at Gong Liangguang’s banquet. It had been so long since their first meeting, yet Luo Ding’s features had not been erased from his mind for a moment. He couldn’t clear him out. This was a matter of personal branding. A celebrity could be ugly but he could not look like everyone else. Who can identify a person who blends into the crowd and can’t be found all day long from a colorful screen?
However, this time, he agreed to work with Gu Yaxing, not entirely because of Luo Ding’s appearance and Gong Lianguang’s intimidation. He was a musician first and foremost and he had a uniquely sensitive and unparalleled music sense. The song that Luo Ding sang at Gong Liangguang banquet, from the first note to the end was so mysterious and inconceivable. This was a genuine talent. Even though he was only a little newcomer in the music world, this trip was worth it.
He Guan was a well-known composer in the industry. He had formed a band which had won major awards both at home and abroad. He and Ye Zhou had also co-written lyrics together in the past. The two were considered to be an unconventional combination and were very sought after in the music industry. Nowadays, they basically worked only for the surviving top-level singers. It could be said that a song from them was hard to obtain.
Luo Ding really didn’t expect Gu Yaxing to be able to convince these people to leave their mountain. However, after seeing Gong Liangguang, he immediately realized that it must have been this man’s handiwork.
“… So, shall we start?”
Ye Zhou was the type of person who could quickly enter his working mode. Luo Ding had barely sat down and Ye Zhou was the first to speak: “You haven’t recorded before, have you?”
“”Can you read music?”
“That’s good.” Ye Zhou said, “I also heard you sing at the banquet that day. Your sound range is very wide and your music sense is accurate. In a moment, you will go to the practice room to choose a song which you will sing carefully. Let Mao laoshi see if there are any shortcomings that need to be corrected.”
Although Mi Rui was almost as tall as Duan Xiubo, his legs were short and he needed to speed up the frequency of his steps to keep up with Duan Xiubo. Thus, though he was holding a stack of papers he followed behind while walking very quickly.
Fortunately, he was not alone.
Yu Shaotian, the chairman of Triumph Media, frowned while walking side by side with Duan Xiubo. In order to maintain his elite image, his brows were frowned tightly and his expression was serious, but his lips were overflowing with complaints: “What will happen to you if you walk slowly?”
“I’m used to it.” Duan Xiubo put his hands in his pockets, strode forward with a smile and continued doing his own thing. In fact, he was not in the mood to tolerate Yu Shaotian, but because he was used to not refusing anyone, even if he didn’t like something, he would still behave in a gentle and courteous manner.
Step by step Yu Shaotian still drew closer: ” You’ve almost succeeded. For so many years you have not returned home. Look at your father’s age. You should forgive the things that should be forgiven.”
“I don’t blame him.”
“Yeah, of course you’ll say you don’t blame him. You aren’t stupid.” When Duan Xiubo didn’t respond Yu Shaotian closed his mouth after a long sigh.
He knew that Duan Xiubo was a little cynical when it came to his father. He had followed his mother after his parents separated and Yu Shaotian did not know what exactly Duan Xiubo had experienced in his childhood.
When he and Duan Xiubo were young, they could go a full year without being able to see each other and naturally their relationship was not close. When Duan Xiubo entered the entertainment circle, Yu Shaotian only learned the news after the other had become popular.
This young man, though in his twenties, was more slippery than anyone else but thinking of his father ’s love life, even he sometimes felt a little sorry for this younger brother.
Duan Xiubo always smiled and had a gentle manner, so Yu shaotian couldn’t see through him. For a while, Yu Shaotian had tried to get close to him but ended up with no results. Slowly, he gave up this impossible task. He had watched the other party go alone for so many years. Duan Xiubo never relied on anyone. He was always desolate.
“I just don’t want to go back for his fifteenth or is it sixteenth wedding.” Duan Xiubo briefly blocked all the well-meaning advice that the other party hadn’t yet offered with this sentence and then asked Mi Rui: “Where did Carmen say he was?”
“Forty-fifth floor.” Mi Rui glanced at Yu Shaotian, pushed up his glasses and answered quickly. The first rule of the Code for Qualified Brokers and Assistants was that you should never interfere in your boss’ personal matters.
Yu Shaotian immediately interjected: “Carmen? Is that director Carmen Clovis? Isn’t the forty-fifth floor a music floor? What is he doing there?”
“There are also martial arts clubs on the forty-fifth floor. Amateur martial arts instructors teach there. Presumably this is why he’s there.” Mi Rui had absorbed all the gossip within his scope of work extremely quickly and had never let any problems affect his boss.
Yu Shaotian gave Mi Rui a glance in admiration: “You are a good agent.”
Duan Xiubo naturally stretched out his hand and pressed the elevator button: “Yes, He’s not bad. But how many agents do you know who can make two million yuan a year?”
Mi Rui pushed his glasses, then calmly and proudly nodded at Yu Shaotian in a bowing gesture.
“…” Yu Shaotian thought to himself, my cheap mouth should really be torn off.
The forty-fifth floor was very large, and restaurants, music, fitness, dance, various clubs and training centers could be found there. But today the forty-fifth floor seemed extraordinarily lively. When he got off the elevator and saw the crowd of people outside, Duan Xiubo immediately turned around and put on an emergency face mask. He couldn’t help but look at Mi Rui. Mi Rui shrugged, and pointed his thumb to the music club at the right. The club had used a glass window to enclose the public audition room and in the bright lights staff members were debugging equipment inside.
“This music club has many members and their instructors are also very talented.” After listening to the discussion of the people nearby, Mi Rui raised his eyebrows with some understanding. “Eh? It’s being said that the club’s shareholder, Mao Xiaorun is also here today. No wonder its lively. Most people are probably here as onlookers and are not here to attend the class. After all, not everyone can visit Ma Xiaorun’s own studio. “
Duan Xiubo had no interest in this. Such public auditions were a gimmick. Music clubs will occasionally let their students show their faces in order to display their strength. This didn’t appeal to him. Worried about being recognized, he pulled up his mask and walked even faster.
The music on the forty-fifth floor stopped slowly and a few humming sounds could be heard through the equipment. A soft female voice then said with unquenchable excitement: “Zheng Se Music Studio has been doing these live broadcast for a long time but today Mao Xiaorun laoshi is here with one of his favorite students and as a result the public audition room, which has not been opened for a long time, lights up once again. Thank you Mao laoshi and Mr. Luo for agreeing to our invitation. Thank you.”
A moment later, a bright, warm and smiling voice sounded: “Originally I was only supposed to practice in the audition room backstage. I did not expect to have an opportunity to enter the public audition hall. In a little while, please bear with me if I can’t sing well.”
Duan Xiubo’s footsteps were suddenly stopped by this voice. Naturally, he couldn’t take another step and stood there in a daze.
He turned around and heard echoes of the cheering and screaming coming from the area near the entrance of the elevator. Duan Xuibo paused for a moment, tightened his mask and then turned back.
“… Eh?” Yu Shaotian stood frozen in place and looked at Duan Xiuo’s departing back in confusion, “Hey! Where are you going? The studio is just ahead.”
Duan Xiubo ignored him completely. He took a few quick steps, and finally even started to run. Mi Rui quickly emerged from his shock and caught up. Yu Shaotian, who had turned silly for a while, had no other choice but to also keep up.
Luo Ding had almost forgotten how long it had been since he had come into contact with such professional recording equipment. Just now, while waiting in the wings, he had enjoyed singing to his utmost. The noise cancelling headphones were as big and heavy as ever. He held on to the outer edge of the headphones and felt as though he had returned to those youthful years when he was crazily pursuing music.
In fact, he actually didn’t want to enter this public audition room. However, he had to compromise under the strong persuasion of Mao Xiaorun, the shareholder. But since he had accepted this invitation, he regarded it as a job. Initially, the aim of this first audition was casual now he gathered himself and assumed a conscientious attitude.
It was very lively outside the window but, at least in his opinion, it didn’t seem like there were too many people.
As the prelude to the music sounded, he smiled at the crowd outside the window, and put on his headphones.
The difference between good and bad sound equipment was really obvious. The cost ranged from a few hundred yuan to several million yuan. Different equipment had a huge impact on a singer’s voice. For the same song, the effect on a singer in the recording studio, the effect of live singing and the effect in KTV singing was absolutely different.
The last time Luo Ding sang at Gong Liangguang’s banquet, he had used ordinary equipment. Although, because of his excellent music sense, it sounded good enough to amaze many people when he switched to the equipment in this audition room his previous performance immediately turned into scum.
The youth’s voice was bright and pure. After being quietened it held the flavor of a sigh. He switched between his true voice and his falsetto without any difficulty. In a moment, the commotion within the crowd outside the window was suppressed.
“I arrived in your city, and walked the same path you walked …”
He sang softly while the slow and sad melody flowed like a stream in the background. His singing seemed to contain infinitely repressed emotions. Every word was spoken with a fluttering sound.
“”Imagine how lonely you would be without me …”
The entire forty-fifth floor was encased in this quiet atmosphere. It felt like one could really see a man with his luggage walking on the streets blankly, suppressing his sadness and smiling. Luo Ding had pressed his hands on the earphones. His eyes were closed, his brows were slightly furrowed and he was singing seriously and emotionally. His handsome features became even more incredible because of the professional lighting.
People outside the window, who were initially staring at him dully in astonishment, hurriedly pulled out their cell phones to start recording but their attention was still mostly focused on his singing. Fortunately, the people in the surroundings had consciously quieted down thus the audio they recorded was not ruined by noise.
Slow songs were actually difficult to perform. They could not instantly arouse the audience’s enthusiasm. Especially for songs like this where the backing sounds were not much more intense than a gurgling stream. 80% the song had to be interpreted through the singer’s voice. If you wanted to catch the attention of the audience the emotion you placed into the song must be deep and intense. A single wrong beat, or out-of-tune tone, or even a little tremor in the ending was enough to greatly reduce the appeal of the performance.
With Gong Liangguang at his side, Mao Xiaorun frowned and stood outside the door of the audition room. His expression was not pretty.
Gong Liangguang sighed, struggled to break away from the mood of the song and asked him, “What’s wrong? Is there something wrong with his singing? I think it’s great.”
“No, he sings well.” Mao Xiaorun shook his head, a little helpless, “But because his singing is so good, and his skills are incredible, I really don’t know where to start critiquing him. If this album was to be produced I couldn’t possibly participate because I can’t figure out what else I can give him guidance on.”
Gong Liangguang widened his eyes in amazement: “That’s impossible … he’s only twenty years old …”
Mao Xiaorun frowned and stared fiercely through the small window at the back of the young man and could see the powerful aura emanating from him. He smiled bitterly: “So, there was still something like genius in this world.”
“Oh ~ the fleeting feeling …” At this moment, He Guan and Ye Zhou didn’t have the energy to comfort Mao Xiaorun. From the moment Luo Ding had finished singing for the first time in the rear audition room, they both sat on the floor and started to write. Ye Zhou had held his notebook in a pensive manner while listening to Luo Ding sing. Then as though he was drunk he held on to his forehead and wrote quickly.
It had been a long time. A long time since such inspiration had erupted like a fountain. The way Luo Ding sang was really special. It gave people a feeling of being sucked into another world just through the music. He was extremely suitable for singing lyrical songs because not everyone was capable of expressing sadness in sharp, short lyrics. He gave a comfort emanating from both the soul and flesh that made people drowsy yet reluctant to actually fall asleep. Ye Zhou felt that he would likely be able to write all the songs needed for Luo Ding’s next album even before production began on this album.
In the display window, Luo Ding had deposited all his emotions, and only the melody and lyrics of the song were left in his mind.
For a long time the last note of the song did not touch the ground. It was as light as a sigh and with a faint cry it was meant to drift far away.
The music came to a halt and the entire forty-fifth floor resumed the same quietness it had before the singing had begun.
It was really silent and there was not even the sound of people talking. Luo Ding heaved a long sigh, slowly took off the headset and opened his eyes.
There were at least twice as many people standing outside the window at the entrance than there was before he started singing. Everyone was staring at him approvingly. Through the clear glass Luo Ding could vaguely discern clear traces of tears on some faces.
After three seconds of silence many finally realized that the performance had ended. They pressed the stop button on their recordings and immediately began to applaud.
Luo Ding smiled slightly and not showing any timidity he bowed to the window before leaving.
The staff members went into the audition room to check and clean the instruments. After the vermilion curtain covering the window was pulled up, everyone realized that there would be no second song and they evacuated reluctantly.
However, the focus of most people was still very clear. They rushed into the music club to ask the staff if they could meet the singer who had just finished performing and inquired for as much information as possible.
A few of the people who had heard Luo Ding’s name before then quickly started to post on Weibo, either with selfies taken on the spot or simply posting the video. While updating their Weibo, they started talking to other audience members around them about Luo Ding’s origins. After exchanging a few words, Luo Ding had become a bridge of friendship between people who had been unfamiliar with one another in the past.
As for Weibo, it had become muddied by the release of this new information and generally the volume of retweets on the audio and video as well as the trending topics was crazy. The two words Luo Ding had once again caused another new bloodbath.
Wu Fangyuan and Gu Yaxing, who had been waiting outside, did not recover until Luo Ding had walked in front of them. The two of them helped each other to stand up numbly, while staring at Luo Ding as if looking at an alien.
Luo Ding was a singer who had debuted in Yaxing Studio. They were undoubtedly the people who knew Luo Ding’s strength best. Although Luo Ding’s opportunities to perform in the past were relatively few and even though they had not cared or paid much attention, they would still be able to tell the difference between Luo Ding’s current strength and that of the past.
“… You …” Wu Fangyuan’s voice was a bit dry, and he didn’t know how to word his thoughts. He just stuttered and said, “When did you … like this …”
“After disbanding.” Luo Ding lowered his eyes, a faint smile on his face, his eyes were deep with emotion, “I am not resigned to failure.”
Wu Fangyuan stared at his expression and felt distressed at the sight.
In the past, Luo Ding had been so good to Su Shengbai. Wu Fangyuan himself had seen how mean and ruthlessly the other party had chosen to kick Luo Ding aside when he gained an opportunity. Yes, Luo Ding was also a man with self-esteem. How could he not care?
Thinking of the time when Luo Ding’s emotions had collapsed and his increasing dependence on Prozac.Wu Fangyuan clenched his fists. It turned out that Luo Ding had still been honing his singing skills secretly? As an agent he was so unqualified that he did not even notice this, let alone give comfort.
Gu Yaxing who was on the side also vaguely understood something from this conversation. He sighed and patted Luo Ding’s shoulder: “Don’t worry, your future would be broader and farther than him. With today’s achievements, you should thank him for his relentlessness.”
The doubts that had still existed about Luo Ding’s rapid advancement naturally disappeared at this moment. A man’s self-esteem was an amazing thing. It was enough to prompt a person to make changes that he could never had imagined before. Combined with Luo Ding’s previous experience he had returned in a dazzling manner after a brief silence. This result was very inspirational and not impossible.
It’s was very easy to deal with people who were good making assumptions. Luo Ding smiled and set his eyes on He Guan and Ye Zhou, who were sitting on the ground and lying on the bench respectively while struggling with pens and books. He was stunned by the current appearance of these two gods.
Gong Liangguang came forward to explain in an understanding manner: “When inspiration hits, artists are sometimes a little crazy. Your current state and strength is definitely more than enough to release the album, I support it very much. But I have an idea.”
“What idea?” Luo Ding asked.
“An album’s production cycle is too long. I think you might as well produce an EP before releasing an album. Not only can you test the response of the market, it will also lay a foundation for your popularity. After all, you have no status in the domestic music industry and you currently can’t focus on the overseas market. Not so?. “
Luo Ding didn’t hesitate for long. Currently, he had really not made any waves in the mainstream market. In addition, given the speed of his recent drama filming schedule making a short album first was really the best choice.
Gu Yaxing also had no objection to this and thus a group of people stood in the lobby of the club to complete their next work. After resolving all the major issues in his mind, Luo Ding’s exhaustion and drowsiness which had been suppressed for a long time suddenly overcame him. He clutched his forehead, wanting to say goodbye to everyone and to find a place to rest.
Duan Xiubo was allowed to enter the club after verifying his identity. It was only when he had entered the hall that he saw a young man leaning against the table with a drowsy expression and a smile on his face.
“XiaoLuo ding, how come I see you wherever I go?” In a somewhat familiar and close manner he stepped up and walked towards the other’s side. He briefly spotted Yu Shaotian walking behind him.
Luo Ding turned his head back in shock.
Duan Xiubo had stolen his lines, he was obviously the one haunting Luo Ding everywhere!
 Appellation. Translates to “Old”. Shows familiarity.
 Basically means the music economy had still not truly bloomed.
 Meaning they were as reclusive as hermits.
 Refers to Karaoke
 Added failure to the sentence to express the meaning better.
 Prozac (fluoxetine) is medication that is used to treat major depressive disorders
 Appellation. Means “little”
Initially I had promised that after adjusting to post quarantine life I would get back to posting multiple chapters a week. Perhaps some may not have realized it but the chapters have gotten much longer. It takes me twice as long to translate one chapter than it did in the past. Though splitting chapters is an option, personally I dislike it when translators split chapters as I feel it ruins the flow of the story. So though I have tried my best to speed up unfortunately I think a chapter a week is about all I can manage for RTEI going forward. 🙁