Fang Zhao did not know that he was being talked about by the few engineers of Fiery Bird. At that moment, he was standing in the 50th floor office, gazing out the window.
In the distance, an image of Polar Light appeared every five minutes in the middle of a bunch of skyscrapers. Recently, Polar Light’s figure was everywhere in Yanzhou. Billboards, holographic projections above buildings, posters, etc. Other than Silver Wing and Fiery Bird’s cooperative marketing campaign, there was Su Feng’s Four Elephants’s advertisements as well. It seemed that Polar Light’s popularity had exploded spectacularly overnight.
At one of the press conferences for the movie that Silver Wing had invested in, which starred Polar Light, when the media were inquiring about Polar Light’s endorsements, an announcer "accidentally" revealed that Polar Light’s Four Elephants's endorsement fee was 100 million for a year. Toward this, many people’s first reaction was disbelief.
If the fee was from Fiery Birdy, it would still have been believable, but that another company, especially one that was not considered famous, would actually pay out such a high fee? How could anyone be convinced? Merely considering endorsement fees, that would make Polar Light the number one virtual idol in Yanzhou. Even if he did not have sufficient works or enough detailed information, his fans also could not compare to the other two popular virtual idols. But who let Polar Light have such good luck? Who had let the people behind Polar Light be so capable? When the word got out, it was a topic that was discussed furiously.
Four Elephants had really spent so much just for Polar Light to endorse them? Dumb*ss?
Four Elephants’s Yanzhou-in-charge immediately shot back: "Sorry to be a bother, but I am that dumb*ss you were speaking about."
There were also many people that admired the way Four Elephants had grabbed the chance at the opportune moment. Freeloading on the hype over "Battle of the Century" was surely pleasant. And counting the number of eyes across the world that would be on "Battle of the Century" despite it being some ways off, people were starting to understand.
Because of Silver Wing’s and Fiery Bird’s joint promotional campaign, now, anybody from Yanzhou who went online or headed out would get to see Polar Light’s image. This was also the reason for Four Elephants’s steep increase in sales volume. Also, Four Elephants had also gone from being "a certain Muzhou brand" to a "well-known brand."
Fang Zhao did not understand much about the market and sales, but just from everyday sights and sounds, he could understand that sort of change.
Recently, the members of the virtual projects department walked more proudly. When they went out, they would receive looks of envy or congratulatory words.
"One hundred million for an endorsement deal, 10 of these would be a billion! Twenty of these would be 2 billion!"
Zu Wen counted and counted but felt himself getting even more confused. "Are we… Are we going to be rich?" They would not get that much, but overtime fees and bonuses would increase, right?
"We have been rich for some time already." Song Miao rolled her eyes. "Haven’t you checked your bank account?"
"Nope." Zu Wen changed his position on the department’s couch and checked the funds in his account.
"Ssss!" After the violent sucking in of air, Zu Wen held his head with his two hands as if he could not believe what he was seeing.
"I, I, I… This, this…"
Their wages were considered quite high within the company already. There was still the overtime pay and, more importantly, the bonuses. Seeing the zeros at the back, Zu Wen once again felt that his decision back then to be lazy and stay at the virtual projects departments was the right choice!
"This, this, this… This is all thanks to boss's great leadership!" There could be no expense spared when it came to bootlicking! Without Fang Zhao’s approval, how would they be able to get so much overtime pay and such great bonuses? If it were somebody else, one who liked to deduct staff wages, as their superior, they would not receive such good treatment.
To this, the other members in the department nodded their heads in agreement.
Ever since Fang Zhao had come to Silver Wing’s virtual projects department, it had only been on the uprise. Whatever would happen in the future, nobody knew yet. However, they all knew that, as long as they followed Fang Zhao, their prospects would be boundless. Just a trip to Muzhou for a bit and he'd pulled a 100 million endorsement deal? Even the dog could become so valuable.
Speaking of Muzhou...
"Boss, when can we go to Muzhou to watch the finals?" Zu Wen asked. This was his second time mentioning it since Fang Zhao had returned.
The other department members looked at Fang Zhao with anticipation,
When the marketing was its peak, they had all worked overtime to clear the tasks assigned. Now that the workload was not that heavy, the workload could be shared by other departments and they could afford to relax a little.
"I will speak to the boss. Today, some new tasks have been assigned, You guys can settle the matters at hand first." Fang Zhao tidied up some of his things. "After work, I leave it up to you guys to arrange."
Although that was the reply they gave, no one left. Working hours and after work had little difference to them. Now all they wanted was to clear all the work so that they could enjoy without any worries.
After leaving the company, Fang Zhao paid a visit to Xue Jing at his residence. Xue Jing was already back in Yanzhou for a rest. Previously, as Fang Zhao'd had matters at Muzhou and Xue Jing still had a number of meetings to attend, they had parted rather hurriedly. This time, when he came back, Fang Zhao still ought to thank this old man. After all, it was Xue Jing that had given him such a chance and spared no effort to help him.
As Fang Zhao’s driver-cum-bodyguard, Zuo Yu naturally accompanied him.
Xue Jing was very happy to see Fang Zhao. "I was just talking about you and now you are here. Have you eaten dinner?"
"I ate already."
"Youngsters have great appetites. Come, accompany this old man for some food." Xue Jing called him over.
Fang Zhao was astonished when he realized that Xue Jing had another guest. It was the Fiery Bird sound effects department head Hua Li, who had previously contacted him.
"Xue Jing can also be considered my teacher, and we have always kept in touch. Today, I visited Muzhou to meet a few old friends and, at the same time, visit Old Xue. Never did I expect to run into you," Hua Li said.
Xue Jing was very happy today and was especially talkative, probably from drinking some wine. His assistant had stopped Xue Jing from drinking too much, but this amount was enough to raise his spirits.
"...I never expected that, at my age, to accept the heavy task of writing a textbook that no one wanted to touch would instigate a new wave of studying frenzy. I heard that many academies have added related courses to their curriculum. Yesterday, I also received a message from a few of my former students saying that their chance had come again…"
Xue Jing spoke enthusiastically and Fang Zhao and Hua Li listened from the side, occasionally nodding in agreement. However, as Xue Jing was rather old, even if was especially spirited, after talking for some time, he got quickly tired and fell asleep.
Fang Zhao and Hua Li helped the assistant shift Xue Jing into his room and then helped tidy up the house before leaving. As Hua Li had come from Huangzhou and did not drive his own flying transport or bring anyone along, Fang Zhao got Zuo Yu to drive the car and send Hua Li to the hotel he was residing at.
When they were close to the hotel, Hua Li asked, "Are you busy? How about a drink?"
Guessing that Hua Li probably had other matters to discuss that were not convenient in Xue Jing’s presence, Fang Zhao agreed.
Hua Li chose a restaurant close by the hotel where he knew the owner.
Zuo Yu took the initiative and found a chair outside to sit in. He did not go inside to listen.
"Back at Old Xue’s place, there was something I did not say." Hua Li looked serious. "Fang Zhao, have you thought about your own future?"
Hua Li’s sudden question surprised Fang Zhao a little. "What do you mean by that?
"Do you intend to keep staying at Silver Wing? To speak the truth, back at Old Xue’s place, that old man told me he wishes that you could focus all your efforts on music and not have to manage the trivial matters of Silver Wing’s virtual projects department. However…" Hua Li’s tone changed. "I, on the other hand, hope that you get yourself in more stuff and experience more. That way you would have inspiration and create even better works."
Fang Zhao twirled the cup in his hands but did not say anything, waiting for what was to follow.
Hua Li swept his gaze across Fang Zhao. This young fellow was still the same as before. He could not see if his words had received any reaction from him. Hua Li paused for a bit before continuing. "If you feel your limitations are too high, when you have idle time, you can visit Huangzhou Music Academy. The advance courses there are better than at Qi’an Academy of Music. There is a lot that can be learned there, and many symphonic enthusiasts all over the world are there. You can overcome any weakness and get to know others. It would be beneficial for your future, too."
From Fang Zhao’s memory, he knew that Huangzhou Music Academy did have an advanced course for the global music association. Many great masters in the music world had previously gone there for advanced studies. That was a gold-plated process and he would get to know many people from the industry and widen his network. The people who could go there were top talents from all around the world.
"Given your current works, plus Ming Cang and Old Xue’s combined recommendations, you can surely get into the youth advance course," Hua Li told him.
"Have you been there too?" Fang Zhao asked.
"Yes, I have. The company recommended me. I am not the creator type—my strength lies in my hearing capabilities. I was recruited into Fiery Bird early on and arranged to attend advanced studies. After returning, I took less than two years to become a deputy department head, and after that, I got promoted to where I am now." Hua Li had not composed in a long time. "During my advanced studies, I was in the same batch as Ming Cang, but because of the situation with his son, he put his career on hold for more than 10 years.
"Of course, this is only a suggestion I am giving you as an industry senior. If you don’t wish to, there is no problem. Even if you want to change professions later on, that is fine too. I know a lot of people from the music industry who switched over to film and television because it is easier to become popular in film and there's more money there.
"The memory of the internet can be very long—long enough that it will remember us when we die—or it can be very short. A person popular throughout the world can find himself tucked away at the back of people’s memories in the next moment. Especially so for you creator types who work behind the scenes are more forgettable. I had a classmate who followed the path his company set out for him. He single-mindedly devoted himself to composing, and after making a name for himself, left the company and went solo. Later on, as he was not satisfied with his fame but found his body conditioning to be good, he switched over to the film industry and became a film star. Surprisingly, he did very well, acting and singing, but not everyone can take the same path he did. His talent for acting was not inferior to his composing skills." As he spoke, Hua Li looked at Fang Zhao and shook his head. "But you won’t do. You and me are similar. You don’t look too bad, but you just don’t have enough of that X factor."
Fang Zhao: "..."
"Besides, you are not suitable for the film industry. Looking at how you are normally; you are too cold and your mood rarely changes. Your expressions are not intense enough. If you were to compete with others in the industry, you would be crushed. In terms of acting talent, you might not even be able to beat me."
Fang Zhao: "..."
Hua Li laughed and continued, "Actually, I said so much because somebody asked me to help pass a message." As Hua Li said that, he took out a stack of about ten name cards and spread them out in a circle in front of Fang Zhao. "Helping a few friends and classmates bring these over. They say that, if you ever feel like leaving Silver Wing or Yanzhou, you can consider them. All these are their own companies or private studios, which are rather reputable. Music, especially for movies and large-scale game productions. With more money, there will be more freedom too."
Thus, today, the reason why Hua Li had sought out Fang Zhao alone was to help others lay down their cards.
Before leaving, on his part as an industry senior, Hua Li told Fang Zhao seriously, "You might not know this, but in Huangzhou, there are a number of 10-plus-year-olds who are also preparing for their own global lecture tours. They were born into influential families of musicians and have been attending the best music schools. Their talent is astonishing, and they have achieved a number of industry awards. Those old folks up there seem to think highly of them. There is a seven-year-old fellow in Yazhou who is conducting an orchestra. Just yesterday, they had a public performance.
"In the New Era, the paths in the music industry are not that many. Competition is tough, and every year, many talents appear. Although all these companies might be treating you well because of Polar Light and many others are scrambling to rope you in, if a day comes when your inspiration dries up and your works are no longer breathtaking or you find yourself in a situation where your talent is restricted, you will be surpassed by the younger generations and will no longer be treated the same way. They are many cases of young talents who have miserable ends.
"From my point of view, I really hope that you will do more things that interest you. The world is huge. Experience it more, enjoy some fresh adventures. Although I no long compose, I do know a little. This thing called inspiration often pays a visit when one’s spirits are lively. Do not be restricted by music and do not loathe it." After finishing his talk, Hua Li looked at Fang Zhao, noticed him seriously thinking about something, and asked, "So, do you have anything you want to ask?"
"When will the gaming consoled be delivered?"
Hua Li: "..." Talking to this sort of junior made his heart weary. Did this fellow not worry at all that those little kids would surpass him?