Mailbag

Pitfalls of early success in music industry

I refer to Eddino Abdul Hadi's article Singapore Stars Arising (Life, Sept 21).

Congratulations are in order for the young singer-songwriters who have signed multi-rights deals with record labels, scored gigs at music festivals and embarked on international tours even before they have released an EP.

Kudos to the record companies, music festival and tour organisers who have boldly taken on these budding singer-songwriters so early in their careers.

Indeed, things are looking bright for young musicians here.

Then why am I so apprehensive about the current state and the future of music creation in Singapore?

The answer is that I am not just looking out for good home-grown singer-songwriters and bands, but great ones.

I am basically longing for the same frisson when I first heard Humpback Oak and Lunarin's debut albums.

Early success for these young musicians is a double-edged sword. It is great to have affirmation of one's talent and be able to pay the bills so soon in one's career.

On the flip side, much of that affirmation stems from the intrinsic market pressure faced by the record companies and tour organisers.

Their modus operandi is to grab these youngsters before their competitors do.

It begs the question of the kind of musicians we will produce if they are validated on the basis of a limited oeuvre.

With barely a few songs to their name, but so much bestowed upon them already, these budding musicians really have it good.

What may happen is that they believe the hype about themselves and rest on their laurels, failing to push themselves to produce great music.

Unfulfilled potential is a real consequence of such early success. And we music lovers who expect so much more from our home-grown musicians will be the poorer for it.

Colin Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Pitfalls of early success in music industry'. Print Edition | Subscribe