Opening for LENKA on 26th November

Hi guys! Really excited to be opening for Lenka’s Singapore concert at the Esplanade Theatre on 26th November:) Just wanted to share with you a medley I did of a few of my favourite Lenka songs!!

Check out my earlier post on being an opening act here https://nataliesmusicmusings.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/being-an-opening-act/

Will write about the experience soon!

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MEOW Con

 

 

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Hi guys! I’m back from Austin, Texas! It has been a fruitful and memorable trip and the MEOW Con (Musicians for Equal Opportunites for Women Conference) was an incredibly inspiring experience! It was a busy weekend filled with panels and talks about women in music with showcases by 93 female-fronted bands and female artists.

 

Well, there’s so much to talk about but let me start with the panels first. There were so many great panels going on at once, I couldn’t decide which ones to go for.. at times I literally ran from room to room so I could get a feel of each of the panels, as I didn’t want to miss out on any! There were some standard workshops such as ‘perfecting your online presence’ and ‘how to make a great YouTube video at a low budget’, but what really impacted me were the ones that were specifically about women – eg. touring as a mom, empowering girls through Summer Rock Camps, women’s mental health and trauma.

 

In the ‘Touring as a mom’ panel, we had many musicians who were mothers share their experiences of bringing their children on the road when the toured. It was an eye opener, as usually in Asia, it seems like an artist’s career is generally over when they have children. But this completely changed my perspective of the issue. They discussed the pros and cons  – eg. you get to spend a lot of time with your children but at the same time it can be hard to handle young children and travel with them on a consistent basis, also, the cost of the extra air tickets or car and petrol, as well as hiring a nanny can eat into your earnings from touring. One of the musicians told us that she has given herself a deadline to quit touring – once her eldest child reaches kindergarten age. Another mother said she has had to shrink the sphere of her touring locations, in order to limit the time away from her children.

 

There was a whole debate about what is ‘the right thing to do’ and what do you have to sacrifice as a mom. But we concluded the forum with an acknowledgement that it is really a matter of personal choice. Having children is a choice. If you decide to put your career first, your relationship with your children or your children’s upbringing will be affected. If you put your children and family first, you would probably have to do it at the expense of the career. You can’t have both. The mothers agreed that there’s no point in running around with your hands in the air saying ‘it’s not fair’ because it really isn’t and never will be. We will never be one of the guys. It’s easier to acknowledge that life just isn’t fair, accept it and move on. Work with what you have. One of the mothers even claimed that she was glad she was ‘not more successful’, after watching the documentary ‘Rock and Roll Mamas’ which discussed mothers on the road and the less-than-desirable consequences with regards to the children of these successful musicians.

 

To me, that was one of the panels that really impacted me. I guess in Asia, most of the artists are young. Audiences like the sweet, cute and innocent female artists, especially in the Chinese and Japanese music scene. However, many of these American performers were thirty and above and all had thriving careers. I was always worried about my ‘shelf life’ as a performer, but this panel made me inspire to be one of these artists with longevity, and not worry that I’m not that young anymore. I’m not aiming to be a pop star, so I guess age doesn’t matter as much! :p And I will have to come to a point where I have to make a decision regarding family vs career, but till then, I’ll give it my best shot!

 

I also found the talk on girls summer rock camps really interesting –  these days, there are heaps of summer camps all around the USA holding music camps just for girls. By being in an all-female environment, the girls are free to be themselves, express who they are and feel safe and empowered. Ideally, the instructors and mentors would be female musicians whom the girls can look up to. These camps introduce these teenage girls to music, songwriting, performing and the aim is that they leave the program with a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, and also with new friends who share a passion for music. I had the chance to speak to Dr Monika Herzig as we were in the same shuttle to the airport and it was nice to be able to discuss with her in more depth the program that she runs, called Girls Create Music in Indianapolis. This is something I’d like to do in the future because it’s really meaningful to share the love of music to the youths in Singapore!

 

Another talk which was a real eye-opener was on mental health and trauma, and how songwriting acts as a coping mechanism. I personally have been fortunate not to have experienced a significant trauma, but listening to these women share their past experiences with drug addictions, depression and sexual abuse amongst others really brought this issue to light. I felt a sense of admiration towards these women for being so strong and overcoming all their struggles! In Singapore, ‘mental health’ is hardly discussed, so it was really nice to see a heart-to-heart discussion where everyone was very open about how music helped them heal. It gave them a voice again, when they felt lost and helpless. That truly is the power of music! Also, I found out that Austin has a lot of support for musicians – they even have a foundation called SIMS, which provides mental health services for Austin Musicians. It’s so heartwarming to hear that there are places out there that support and take care of musicians, and treat it like a real career!! So, that was a pretty eye-opening panel.

 

I also attended a talk on artist management, songwriting inspiration and crowdfunding. Singaporean singer-songwriter Inch Chua spoke at the crowdfunding panel and it was nice to hear her share some tips she learnt from her successful campaign!

 

The highlight of the conference was also all the evening showcases. On Friday night, I performed at the showcase at the Piano Bar! It was an intimate setting with me on the grand piano, my two Austin musicians – Carolyn Trowbridge on the cajon and Bryan Sunderman on the guitar, with the audiences sitting in sofas watching us! I was one of the few international performers, which added to my appeal, so I was glad to have an audience, especially since I don’t really have a following in the states yet! It was such a refreshing and enjoyable experience sharing my music and stories to a new audience who were very appreciative of my music, so that’s something I’m really grateful for! I got to meet new fans, which was amazing! Thank you to all of you who dropped by to watch my performance. It means a lot after making it halfway round the world 🙂

 

There were many performances going on simultaneously, so once I was done with my performances, I found myself darting around trying to catch as many performances as I could. I guess I enjoyed the acoustic sets the most, especially the piano-based singer-songwriters! One of my favourite acts was Sara Skinner, she’s pretty well-known on YouTube, but her powerful yet intricate vocals blew me away. She’s also such a down to earth person despite being so talented and beautiful! There were also some girls who were accomplished beyond their age – 13-year-old Grace London, armed with her guitar and kick drum charmed the crowd, 16-year-old Brittany Pearl reminded me of Kate Nash and Lily Ellen with her wit and sass, while 17-year-old Ashley Rezvani exuded a real confidence in her performance. I got to the chance to speak to them after their performances, and I found out some of them had moved to LA to try to make it there as a musician. I really admire them for knowing what they want at such a young age and really going all out to reach for their dream! Also, they’re lucky to have such supportive parents – that’s always importantJ There were also many established female musicians too – for example, Jo Wymer, two-time Grammy nominee (who actually came to watch my performance!) and Jennifer Batten, who played guitar for Michael Jackson amongst others! There were literally bands from every genre and it was the most inspiring weekend for me, being immersed in such incredible talent! It has only inspired me to be a better musician, to challenge myself, work harder and return to perform in the US!! There is so much talent out there and I guess we have to be exceptional to really stand out.

 

Oh yes, I’d like to thank NAC for supporting this trip of mine! It would not have been possible without your support due to the high cost, especially of the plane ticket all the way to Texas, but thank you for believing in me enough to give me a grant!! Appreciate it:)

 

Well, I really hope to capitalize on this momentum I have since returning from this conference to write as much as I can. Being away from home, away from my comfort zone and exploring Texas on my own allowed me to let my thoughts run free and gave me lots of new material to start writing songs for my new album.. It’s so easy to get caught up in work and the comfortable life in Singapore that you kinda lose the inspiration to write, so I’m glad I’m all rejuvenated and armed with a whole notebook filled with ideas! Wish me luck 🙂 and thanks for reading this very long article!!

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Women in Music

Women in Music

I’m really excited as I’ll be heading to Austin, Texas for MEOW CON (Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women Conference) where I’ll be attending the conference and also performing at the showcase alongside 100 female artists and female-fronted bands!

Can’t wait to hear all about the issues that will be discussed, including topics such as touring when you are a mom, controlling your image as a woman and constructive ways to combat sexism and ageism in the music industry.

Stay tuned as I’ll be sure to update about what I’ve learnt from all the panel discussions and talks! Meanwhile, here’s a really interesting article to kick start this topic! 🙂 http://cyberprmusic.com/2013/06/20/51-female-entrepreneurs/

TEDx Talk about my journey

I’ve always been a fan of TED talks, for those of you who don’t know it, it’s a sharing of inspirational ideas. so I was really honoured to be invited to speak at the TEDx Women Singapore in 2012.

So, here’s the full story about my journey to be who I am today, how I made the decision to leave banking, and the ups and downs I’ve faced as a singer-songwriter in Singapore!

For those of you who prefer reading, this is my speech:) “For me, life started out pretty much the same as everyone else. I was a product of the Singapore education system, studying hard, acing my exams and expected to become a banker, lawyer or accountant. Sure enough, I followed the route that was expected of me, heading to London School of Economics to read a bachelor degree in Economics.

But from the beginning, music had always been a huge part of my life. Coming from a musical family, my fondest childhood memories are of staging musicals at home for neighbours and friends, Christmas sing-along sessions with my extended family etc.. The home was always filled with music of some sort. There’s a video of me, when I was 10, in my mum’s winter coat, arms wrapped around myself, singing my heart out to On My Own from Les Miserables. I’d also completed grade after grade of classical piano exams, was a member of the school choir for 10 years, and wrote my first few songs on friendship and love and even Singapore.

However, I never seriously considered becoming a musician. I hadn’t wanted to be a classical pianist not a choral singer. I remember, at an interview in my secondary school for a music award, I was asked by the panel if I felt that music was my calling and if I would pursue music as a career. At that point in time, I wasn’t quite sure yet. Although I can’t remember what my answer was, maybe others saw what I couldn’t see yet. Little did I know then, they were right.

Fast forward to my university days, I got stuck in the grind of the material chase. I succumbed to peer pressure and applied to banking, the so-called ‘dream career’ of LSE students – I was offered a job as a currency sales analyst at one of the biggest investment banks in the world. Knowing the recession was just round the corner, and jobs were hard to come by, I figured I would give this job a shot. Who knows, I might end up liking it, right?

Then began the long days of sitting in front of the computer screen, 5 screens, in fact; watching the currencies fluctuate on a daily basis. Hearing the traders shout animatedly about the EUR/USD going up by a few pips; the pound against the dollar being obliterated become routine. It was standard to execute trades worth millions of dollars, and you know what? The biggest trade I was involved in was worth 150 millions dollars. I remember watching the trade I executed move the markets. However, the novelty wore off after a few months. Any excitement I initially felt was replaced by a hole inside of me – this desperation to be able to create something, to express my own individuality. I did not feel connected to whatever I was doing at work, and after some soul-searching, I realised that I wanted to be making some sort of difference to the people and the world around me. Furthermore, I felt out of place. In a world of testosterone-pumped traders and salesmen; I was a dreamer – coming up with melodies and lyrics to new songs while staring blankly at the screen. I found solace in the lunchtime runs where I had to buy lunch for my team, being the most junior. I’d plug on my headphones and immerse myself in this bubble as an escape from the financial markets and the frantic world around me. The turning point for me came when I made a small mistake at work and lost a few thousand dollars for the bank but it didn’t even affect me. Instead of feeling bad or guilty, I shrugged it off. And that was when I knew I had to get out. How could I go on doing a job that I felt nothing for, that I could not put my heart and soul into. Wouldn’t I be wasting my life if I continued to do this? And for what? I was just another employee amongst the thousands. If I’d left, they’d easily replace me.. but I, for one, could go on to live a life that I was passionate about. So with all the courage I could muster, I told my boss that I wanted to leave. I still remember vividly his reaction that day. He was shocked, said he didn’t see it coming, and told me he was speechless. Turns out, he didn’t know how to respond as he’d previously only had colleagues leaving to join our competitors… so all he said to me was, “Good Luck, then”.

And with that, I walked out of the bank, feeling lighter than ever, a huge weight off my shoulder, and with much excitement, began the new journey to reach for my dreams.

So, I’d like to share with you a song that I wrote about my old job. It goes out to all of you who might be feeling stuck in life. It’s called, Go Fly A Kite.

(GO FLY A KITE)

So, I often get asked, how did your parents respond to your decision? What about society? Well, my parents were very understanding and supportive. I think they always knew I would eventually return to my first love, it’s just how quickly I’d take the leap. If anyone asks my dad, he always looks at my mum and jokes that her genes are just too strong and I couldn’t escape! It was harder to convince society, though. In such a practical and traditional society like Singapore, I still get faced with comments like ‘Are you crazy?’, ‘How could you give up a banking career? And to become a musician?’

I know what they are thinking, of course, but I totally understand where they are coming from. It is definitely not a conventional move, and without such a burning passion or belief in myself, I would not have dared to take this leap.

The journey so far has been fraught with challenges.. Some days are filled with doubts that eat me up inside, for example ‘Am I a little old to be doing this?’, ‘My friends are all settling down, should I be like them?’, ‘Maybe people are right, there’s no future in Singapore’ and of course the classic ‘Maybe I’m not good enough’.. And then there’s also been the dislikes on youtube, the negative comments, which, trust me, has the real ability to crush you.

But then, every time I sing and write new songs, the sense of achievement and accomplishment makes it all worth it. There have been other incredibly rewarding experiences too – having fans sing along to my songs, connecting to people through my music, opening for one of my favourite singer-songwriters, Marie Digby at the Esplanade Concert Hall and to having the entire cast of the new Resorts World production, Incanto, singing the lyrics that I’d written to an audience of more than a thousand people. These moments are what keep me going; to be able to achieve my dreams, one step at a time.

The past two years have been such a roller-coaster ride. But last year, something happened, that reaffirmed my decision. I found out that I had a cyst, which doctors suspected might be cancerous. In those few days before the operation, fraught with uncertainty and despair, I found comfort in knowing that I had the chance to pursue what I really loved. And at that moment, I found peace in knowing I had lived a life with no regrets. So, I encourage you all today, to look deep inside your souls, and do something that you’ve been wanting to do, to tell your loved ones how much you love them, to dream and to work to achieve them, because life is so fragile.

I’d like to share with you the newest song I’ve written.. I wrote it specially for you today. It’s about daring to dream..
This song is called ‘Fly’.

(FLY)

Well, who knows, ultimately, where this road’s going to take me. But at the end of the day, I know that when I look back, I can be proud of my achievements, knowing that I had the courage to step out and live my dreams, to have ticked off some things from my bucket list., for example, writing for a musical, releasing an album, to have made a difference to some people through my music and my story, and inspiring others to pursue their dreams… As clichéd as it sounds, remember, you only live once, so, dare to dream, live with no regrets, live the life that makes you happy.

LYRICS:

Go Fly A Kite
Music and lyrics by Natalie Hiong

You say I’m too quiet, I should learn how to talk back
You say I’m too nice, you don’t appreciate that
You want your lunch on your desk at noon
There’s only so much you can get a girl to do

You’re not quite as glamorous as they all say
Now I know you well enough, I can see right through
Like a bird in a cage, I’m dying to fly away
Cos’ nothing I do is ever good enough for you

Chorus:
All the money in the world
Can’t buy my love (can’t buy my love, can’t buy)
I’ve gotta find a way out
Cos’ that’s not what I’m made of (what I’m made of)
I’ll find someone who’s gonna
Treat me right (oh yes he’ll treat me right)
So go on, go on, go fly a kite!

You expect me to read you and your schizophrenic mood swings
I’ve put up with it long enough, I gotta make a living
You seduced me with your charm and a life of luxury
Babe, I’m a fool no more, I won’t wear you like a trophy

Chorus

Bridge:
I tried to convince myself you were the one for me
Wanted to prove I could handle you easily
But I’m sick of this façade, it’s time to admit
You and I just aren’t a good fit

Chorus

FLY
Music and lyrics by Natalie Hiong

I’ve got two feet stuck on the ground
But my head keeps spinning around
Underneath the girl in the suit
Hides a soul that’s been wilting inside

Spotlight shining as I’m singing
Images are what dreams are made of
What’s the point in dreaming dreams
If we don’t have the courage to try

Chorus:
I’d rather fall than be standing
Without taking one step
I’d rather stumble than be walking
Through life half asleep
I’d rather try
Than watch my life slip right by
I’ll crash, I’ll burn, I’ll fall, just to fly

People say, are you outta your mind
Why’re you leaving this good life behind
But one man’s meat is another man’s poison
My heart’s got a mind of it’s own

Chorus

Bridge:
I know this road is less travelled
I know the end’s out of sight
But if I never try
Then how will I know
What’s on the other side?

Chorus
I’d rather fall than be standing
Without taking one step
I’d rather stumble than be walking
Through life half asleep
I’d rather try
Than watch my life slip right by
I’ll crash, I’ll burn, I’ll fall….
I’d rather fall than be standing
Without taking one step
I’d rather stumble than be walking
Through life half asleep
I’d rather try
Than watch my life slip right by
I’ll crash, I’ll burn, I’ll fall, just to fly
I’ll crash, I’ll burn, I’ll fall, just to fly

Being an Opening Act

Hi guys, today, I’d like to share my experiences opening for international artists! This video was made to promote myself to Marie Digby’s fans before her Singapore performance where I was the opening act. I held a ticket giveaway and managed to gain some YouTube subscribers from there!

Anyway, being chosen to open for international acts is such an incredible feeling. More so if you are a fan of them in the first place. For example, when I opened for Marie Digby, it was indeed a dream come true! I had been a fan of hers since her initial YouTube videos back in 2007. I used to rush home in between classes while in university to learn all her songs on guitar… she was the one who inspired me to start writing singer-songwriter/pop/contemporary songs. So, to get to meet her in person and open for her was an incredible feeling. Moreover, she was the nicest person ever. First of all, she emailed me personally to tell me the great news that I’ll be opening for her. And on the day itself, she offered to help me carry my things when I was struggling with a few bags. And she thanked me on stage which was really nice of her. I also met her family who were lovely!

I also opened for Tiffany Alvord earlier this year, and I’ll be opening for Lenka in November! Really excited about that.

I wanted to share my experiences of opening for these artists – first of all, it is extremely nerve wrecking! The audience is there to watch their favourite artist, but they have to wait longer before he/she comes on stage for their set because of you. I know what it’s like, I have personally been in the audience’s seat! 😉 So it’s pretty stressful – to have to get the audience to warm up to you despite the situation… And with a whole concert hall of eyes on you, most of whom have never heard of you before, it is very daunting. You want to win fans over and also not screw up! And it doesn’t reflect well on the headliner if the opening act isn’t very good either so that’s added pressure. But I guess I try to be myself, focus on giving a good performance and just savour the opportunity!

Thankfully, the audiences of both Marie and Tiffany have been really supportive and I’ve earned some great fans from both these opening gigs.

How To Deal With Negative Feedback

Most likely, along the way in your music journey, you’re gonna come across people who dislike your music, your YouTube videos, comment on your voice, your songs, give your album a negative review.. I’ve been through all of that and I can honestly say they can be very crushing and heartbreaking, especially after you’ve put your heart and soul into your music and put it all on the line. It definitely takes a lot of courage to put your creation out there, and what more when people slam you in public.. But here’s what I’ve learnt through experience, on how to deal with it:

1) Discern if it’s a personal attack or if it is constructive criticisim. People are definitely entitled to their own opinions, no matter if it’s positive or negative. Remember, you can’t please everyone, and people have different tastes and preferences, so no point crying over every dislike or negative comment. However, learn from the feedback that you think is justified. It’s still gonna be hard to accept because the truth hurts, doesn’t it, especially to admit you’re not as good as you’d hoped 😉 But hopefully you have a mentor you trust whom you can discuss with the feedback with, and see if he/she agrees. If it is something you feel like you can work on, then do it. But you’ve got to be patient. Nothing is going to change overnight, but work on it step by step and you’ll not only prove the naysayers wrong but you will become a better musician! However, what I’ve found is that feedback on lyrics is probably the worst to swallow because lyrics are so personal, so an attack on the lyrics feels like a personal attack. But don’t let it get you down! Which brings me to my next point.

2) Don’t dwell on it – based on personal experience, it is so easy to let these negative comments get us down. You forget the positive stuff like the many ‘likes’ you’ve received and focus on the few ‘dislikes’. But that means you’re losing the point. There are so many trolls and haters that want to bring others down. Maybe they are jealous, or maybe they don’t have the courage to do what you do? Who knows.. but remember, you are doing more with your life and putting yourself out there, so don’t let them bring you down or discourage you. Some people are just really bitter and have nothing better to do than to post mean stuff on other people’s youtube channels. I once saw a really mean comment on a fellow singer-songwriter’s youtube video. I clicked on the user and found out all of his comments on other people’s YouTube videos were very negative.. so that really shows the kind of stuff going on. Just take it all with a pinch of salt and move on. Don’t let it get you down. I mean, if something isn’t nice, isn’t it better just to move on and not say anything? Guess their parents didn’t teach them that? :p

3) And I know I keep saying this, but just keep working at it, keep improving, keep doing what you do and prove those naysayers wrong!

4) This is something I learnt from my tutor – you can twist the story around.. For example, if you’ve been given a negative review from a blogger, but he wrote one nice line about you, you can just extract that and include it in your press release. And no one will know any better.. It’s not lying, he did say that line after all, didn’t he 😉 But, be careful of drawing attention to the review when people might actually have missed it, if not for us mentioning it.

5) Don’t read anything about yourself – this is something you can do, I’ve read Hollywood actresses who do that! But it’s good to know what others think about us. Not that we are creating music to please them, but I feel that there is something we can learn from some of the critique and reviews that we receive. So, I personally wouldn’t shield myself from all feedback about me and my music.

6) We learn from failure – ok, so what if most of the comments were negative? We all fail at some point and that would probably be the biggest takeaway from that… It will make you a stronger person to have been through that.. I can take it much better now! Initially, a negative feedback would ruin my day and I’d feel really upset for days but now I’d just be upset temporarily, then I move on. Which is the way it ought to be I guess!

This is was my feature in the Cosmopolitan Magazine, September 2013 issue, where I was nominated for the Fun Fearless Females award. Looking a little weird but that’s me sharing my advice on ‘Ignoring the haters’.. I actually only had a few YouTube dislikes but it was a big deal back then! :p

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Hope that helps those of you starting out in the music industry! It’s not easy to put your ‘babies’ out there and let the world say what they want, but that’s part and parcel of being an artist! 🙂 Good luck!!

Sunny Singapore

Interesting article on social media usage in Singapore by my friend Madeleine! I’m guilty of the first point lol

M.leine's

I read something interest article by the Rock Publicity on Social Media in Singapore. Singapore is one of the leading country in Asia in terms of Social Media. 4/5 of Singaporeans have access to the internet in their home. And, on average Singaporeans spend 103.6 hrs online per month. This makes Singaporeans one of the heaviest users not just in Asia, but in the world as well.

The survey was done on companies and individuals. Some really interesting stuff that pops out..

39.0%
Singaporeans social media users who said they access Facebook or Twitter at least once a month while on the toilet.

43.2%
surveryed people who said they’d “stalked” someone of Facebook in order to find out more information about them.

26,817kg
is the weight of ink and paper if every tweet by Singaporeans on Twitter in 2012 were to be printed out. That equates to approximately”
3 fully-loaded Apache…

View original post 123 more words

Put A Little Spell On Me

‘Giraffe Dreams’ is a collaboration with two of my friends, Travis Minjan and Madeleine Tan. What’s really special is that all three of us came from banking backgrounds, quit our jobs to pursue our passion in music. Being surrounded by people who are all so passionate about what they do is something that I treasure about being a musician. And I feel like we are on the same wavelength, having been through the same thing. We kind get each other. lol We all love what we do and it’s so inspiring. And I’m glad there are people having the courage to step out and reaching for our dreams. It’s so easy to get trapped in our comfort zones and live the rest of our lives doing something we feel nothing for, just because it’s giving us a good pay.. but “our truest life is when we are in dreams awake” (Henry David Thoreau), so hope to see more Singaporeans living their dreams! 🙂
Happy Friday and enjoy our little music video. Hope it puts a smile on your face!!

 

p.s. here’s the link to buy our song! http://www.giraffedreams.bandcamp.com :p

The Death Of The Recording Industry

The Death Of The Recording Industry

Another one bites the dust

On Wednesday, Gramophone announced that it will be ceasing operations in Singapore. Gramphone, which had as many as nine outlets just four years ago, ran only one store at The Cathay as of late. However, that proved unsustainable as well, and it is now the latest casualty here after American music giant Tower Records folded in 2006, and homegrown retail chain Sembawang Music Centre, which closed down in 2009. HMV came close to being another casualty earlier this year. However, thanks to a Hong Kong-based private equity firm’s buyout deal, HMV remains open today. Local record shop, That CD Shop, seems to be surviving, but lately they have begun selling cupcakes in their outlets. Is that really what record shops have to resort to these days to stay alive?

I had to collect my unsold CDs from Gramophone yesterday, and was greeted by this sign posted on the façade of Gramophone’s last outlet at The Cathay. Gramophone was one of the few record shops in Singapore that supported local artists, so I am saddened that it had to go.

So, just what exactly happened to the recording industry that caused such a fate for record shops?

Well, the advancement of technology and shift to the digital world is probably the main reason for the demise of the recording industry. “The music recording industry was built on a brick-and-mortar distribution model: the record label signed an artist, produced and published an album, and the vinyl was off to the store for purchase by the fans. But today is the day of the digital download,” says Susan Laves.

iTunes turns 10 this year but it has been one source of frustration for the music industry. Gone are the days where people saved up for an album, bought a physical copy and listened to it over and over again. In today’s day and age, iTunes has revolutionized the cheap digital single, so it is hardly necessary for people to invest in an entire album’s worth of songs anymore. After all, don’t we usually just have one or two favourites from every album? In 2012, there were 1.4 billion digital singles sold, dwarfing CD sales by a factor of seven. This phenomenon of buying digital singles was aided by the invention of the iPod. People relished being able to download a song instantly and take it anywhere with them.

More recently, streaming services such as Rhapsody, Spotify and Deezer have made it even less necessary to purchase songs on iTunes. Endless playlists available at one’s fingertips negate the purpose of downloading songs on iTunes, coupled with limited storage on our phones. I, for one, have also migrated to using Spotify. $9.90 a month seems cheaper than buying all the digital singles, and it’s letting me discover more music with their radio and playlist functions. Artists and record labels receive a measly sum of 0.4 cents (USD) per stream of their song, so it is still not particularly viable for the content creators.

However, piracy is no doubt the worse of two evils – filesharing, downloading music illegally, or use programs such as YouTube to mp3 converter to obtain the audio of the songs without having to fork out a single cent. This problem is incredibly difficult to solve due to several reasons – first of all, these listeners don’t mind that the quality isn’t perfect. Also, the risk of being caught is minimal. They are also of the mindset that music and movies etc should be made free, so they see no reason to spend money on it. Piracy is definitely a serious issue which the recording industry faces. If the content creators are not being compensated for their work, it means they cannot continue to do what they do. And this is manifested in so many forms – from the closing down of record labels to record shops.

What now?
Despite the recording industry dying, music isn’t! Recording equipment is available at a more affordable price than ever. The cost of producing and distributing music has fallen. This has led to a shift in revenue distribution. While in the past, the big record labels were reaping the majority of the revenues in the recording industry, in today’s environment, the smaller artists are also able to make a decent living, recording, touring, selling merchandise etc. With social media, these smaller artists are able to get their music out to a wider fan base even without the muscles of a million-dollar marketing campaign.

In light of these developments in the music industry, fans now have a wider choice of music to listen to. Gone are the days when they were forced only to listen to the pop music on the radio stations, they now are in charge of their own musical tastes, with no lack of accessible platforms to seek out new music.

So, as songwriters, artists and musicians, we’ve got to think creatively on ways to make money in this new age. Since we are neither record labels nor record shops, the future looks brighter for us if we can tap on the hungry oasis of fans looking for new music. I’d say we should aim to create great music and we will find a ready audience for our music! Then again, whether they’d pay for our music is again the crux of the issue….

References/Read more:
http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/25/technology/itunes-music-decline/index.html
http://c1776742.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/downloads/pdfs/RackspaceMediaServices.pdf
http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120810decline
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120926/08252920518/so-what-can-music-industry-do-now.shtml
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/19/zoe-keating-spotify-streaming-royalties

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/gramophone-winds-down-business