Why It Matters

Tuning in to Singapore

When Singaporean music finds a new platform or audience, it is cause for celebration. So the launch last week of a dedicated Singapore station on American online radio service Pandora is good news.

A partnership between the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Pandora, the station will feature some 90 of the best contemporary home-grown English-language tunes. The songlist includes singer Nathan Hartono's Thinkin Bout Love, experimental rock band The Observatory's Continuum Part 3 and electronica duo .gif's Godspeed.

Having Singapore songs on an international platform is not new. Music streaming services such as Spotify offer plenty of music made in Singapore.

While exact figures are unavailable, a Universal Music Singapore spokesman saysits home-grown acts such as Gentle Bones see a definite growth in listenership by having their music on such services.

Pandora works more like traditional radio, which picks songs for listeners based on their preferences. Music streaming services let users pick and choose songs as well as create custom playlists; they also have pre-set playlists and radio-like features.

Both ways have their merits - some music lovers know what they want, others thrive on unexpected discovery and the element of surprise.

STB's tie-up with Pandora has one advantage - it will be backed by ads on Pandora to encourage listeners to tune in to the Singapore station. To sweeten the deal, listeners stand to win trips here.

Most importantly, Pandora and the streaming services have algorithms that match acts with fans who love a particular sound or style. A US listener into folk-influenced tunes could end up with Singapore singer-songwriter Charlie Lim on his playlists.

The US music market still ranks as the biggest in the world. If even a small portion of it tunes in to the Singapore station, there is always a chance that among them is a radio programmer, record label executive or gig promoter who could potentially help home-grown artists make an impact there.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'Tuning in to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe