My perspective on Music Matters 2012 was straightforward enough. Even though I am involved in the local music industry as a journalist and a manager – not to mention as an EXCO member of the newly formed Singapore Music Society (SGMUSO) launched at Music Matters 2012! – first and foremost I went as a FAN. And as a FAN, I thoroughly enjoyed myself for the two-day duration! After all, I got to meet two legendary rock n’ roll figures – producer Bob Ezrin (left) and manager Peter Jenner (right) - who have been involved and associated (and WORKED) with many of my favourite bands/artists from Pink Floyd to KISS to The Clash to Peter Gabriel to Robyn Hitchcock and so on.
SGMUSO members were privileged to have been involved in ‘one-to-one’ sessions with Ezrin, Jenner, AEG Live President John Meglen and other luminaries in the music industry. Their insights were invaluable and gave us a bigger picture of what a person can achieve in the music industry with drive, belief and passion. In particular, it was something mentioned by Lee Trink, Kid Rock’s manager that got me thinking – when questioned about what it would take for an Asian act to break into the USA. He emphasized that it was vital for an artist to build a following where they were i.e. in our case, Singapore (and the region) before even contemplating the USA. Former Linkin Park manager Rob McDermott also encouraged like-minded bands (like metal bands) to pool resources and fan bases to build a bigger and better metal scene, for instance.
These sentiments had been echoed somewhat by Ezrin in a previous session where local musicians were trying to pass him their music and he mentioned that if they did not have a following, there was nothing he could do to help them. I have been rather resigned to the ‘fact’ that by and large there was little hope for a Singapore artist to build a fan base here due to ignorance and prejudice, so was this advice relevant in Singapore where audience appreciation was nowhere close to the levels experienced in the USA? Do we need to change our paradigm to think LOCAL and REGIONAL rather than GLOBAL?
Which segues nicely into a discussion on SGMUSO, composed of volunteers within the local music scene who share the common goal of growing the Singapore music scene. Like I said, I am an EXCO member so you can take my comments with a pinch of salt but I believe that the timing could not be better for the scene for SGMUSO to emerge. It is time to put aside petty differences and unnecessary conflicts within the scene to come together to build OUR scene. A Korean colleague remarked to me that the K-Pop phenomenon was down to the fact that Koreans are fiercely nationalistic about their artists and it’s no coincidence that K-Pop became massive first in its homeland before being an exportable commodity. This fact never more evident than on the first night of Music Matters Live, which the K-Pop acts totally owned!
Of course, contacts were made with music industry professionals and hopefully my artists will benefit from these collaborations but there’s a load of work to be done to make the local music scene as vibrant and successful as it possibly can. Then we can hold our heads high and venture beyond our shores with greater confidence.
But back to Music Matters 2012, to sum up – I thoroughly enjoyed most of the keynote speakers – from Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter‘s astute business philosophy to ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman‘s take on J-Pop to journalist Steve McClure‘s sobering perspective on Japan to music blogger Bob Lefsetz‘s skewered view on the industry to AEG Live President John Meglen‘s homespun down-to-earth work ethic to legendary producer Bob Ezrin‘s insights on some of my all time favourite music. Kudos to Music Matters for bringing these amazing music industry leaders down for our edification. I have to say that the Panel Discussions were a bit iffy at times and rather hit-or-miss overall, but that is truly a minor quibble in the entire scheme of things.
… still there’s more …
NB. Reviews of Music Matters Live to come from our excellent team of Power of Pop writers. Stay tuned. If you are a musician based in Singapore, please register to be a member of SGMUSO here.