Why It Matters

In tune with local music

The results of a national music survey, the first of its kind, showed that the majority of Singaporeans are in tune with local music.

The door-to-door survey of 1,000 citizens and permanent residents, with a make-up representative of the population, was conducted by the National Arts Council (NAC) in the middle of the year.

According to the report, 71 per cent listen to Singaporean music, and two out of three take pride in home-grown artists and songs.

Many acts have made their mark in the last few years, from Nathan Hartono on regional programme Sing! China to indie act Gentle Bones selling out the Esplanade Concert Hall.

While evidence of substantive demand for local music was previously anecdotal, the survey backs it up with numbers.

Defined as "any genre of music composed or performed by musicians who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents", Singaporean music is a cornucopia of sounds. It includes the national songs we are familiar with, traditional ethnic music as well as contemporary genres.

But while the results are encouraging, it is still rare to see Singapore acts appear on the charts of popular English radio stations here or on streaming services. NAC's survey showed that only 8 per cent of those who listen to local music do so daily. Just 18 per cent have been to a Singapore music show in the past year, and only 8 per cent paid to attend local gigs.

It is a good thing to hear that NAC will spearhead a national movement dubbed Hear65 next year to increase the profile of Singapore-made music. No details are available as yet.

According to the survey, one-third access music through the radio (22 per cent) and television (9 per cent) - so having more local music on the air would certainly be welcome. Increasing the spaces for acts to perform regularly would also allow more people to experience their music live.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2017, with the headline 'In tune with local music'. Print Edition | Subscribe