One Small Voice: Clarence Chan

Published on 28 February 2018

Credit: Bandwagon

How can we grow the Singapore music scene? Clarence Chan, founder of Bandwagon, shares his views.

By Pamela Ho

A recent national survey on Singaporeans’ music consumption habits found that young people go to free services like YouTube for music, and increasingly, to streaming services from sites like Spotify, Apple Music and KKBox. They have new ways of discovering music, mostly online and from social media. The thing about the digital platform is that while it increases accessibility, it also makes it harder for Singapore musicians because they’re fighting for attention with the likes of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

To elevate Singaporean music, the whole ecosystem has to mature. How many full-time music managers do you know? How many music lawyers or accountants specialising in entertainment, or branding and consultancy experts for artists do we have? To push our artists on different fronts, we need talented individuals who are skilled in other areas — like law, accountancy, marketing, business management, even engineering — to consider making entertainment their industry.

Also, we don’t have a focused strategy for music export. For instance, Daft Punk and Phoenix [electronic music bands] are actively supported by their French music export office. Canada has something similar and the British Council does that too. For a start, we need a masthead everyone can get behind, whether they’re emerging or established artists. And that’s what we hope Hear65 will do for Singaporean music.

Hear65 is more than an online platform for local music; it’s a movement backed by the National Arts Council and spearheaded by Bandwagon [an independent music media company], whose content is 65 per cent local and regional, and 35 per cent international. While Bandwagon targets savvy music enthusiasts, Hear65 reaches out to those discovering Singaporean music for the first time. We hope to use our expertise covering music across genres and nationalities to promote Singaporean music — to produce unique written and video content in a light-hearted and introspective way.

We want Hear65 to be that masthead where different genres of music can fall under: from indie and experimental to rock, hip-hop and pop. Our role is to enhance and amplify the work that’s already being produced. In addition, we hope to cover other players who support Singaporean music in their own way — like private enterprises and retail establishments — and package the stories in an educational, informative and entertaining way. Hear65 will also have a crowd contribution element.

While we can’t plug all the gaps, we hope to help change perceptions and create a ground-up movement to support local music. Singaporeans are always talking about our food — our chilli crab, kaya toast — even when we go overseas. Will we reach a day where we also rave about our music? So that’s the vision, that Singaporean music becomes synonymous with our culture.

CLARENCE CHAN is the founder of independent online music media company, Bandwagon. His vision is for Bandwagon to be the trusted voice for music in Asia. Bandwagon began six years ago, when Chan learnt coding from scratch to launch an online live music gig finder on his own. Working with his team across three countries, he has led Bandwagon to become a go-to platform for music lovers online and offline via news, events and technology.

LISTEN UP - How Can I Support Local Music?

Listen to Singapore music. Be open and give it a chance.

Pay to attend gigs: artists make the bulk of their income from live shows.

Tune in to Bandwagon and Hear65 — you’ll be automatically plugged in to the music scene.

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