With the seeming rise of Singapore music appreciation in the last couple of years, it was necessary to formalise certain findings about whether this increased appreciation was for real or simply a (optimistic) perception.

Thus, the National Arts Council commissioned a music survey this year with 1000 door-to-door surveys being conducted from May to June. While the results need to be taken with a pinch of salt here and there, they are instructive and provide some direction concerning the areas that need greater improvement.

Courtesy of the National Arts Council

In the crucial area of music purchases, the survey confirms that Singapore consumers basically do not pay for recorded music anymore as indicated by 90% of the respondents. Which means that most Singaporeans still get their music via illegal downloads and legal streaming like Youtube. That is troubling, to say the least.

As far as paying for live music events is concerned, the numbers are also very low – only 21% of those surveyed said that they attended paid music events in the last 12 months! This number drops to a mere 8% (!) when related to paid events featuring Singapore music.

Courtesy of the National Arts Council

Thus, despite the seemingly positive finding of 66% of participants indicating “I am proud of SG music & musicians”, it’s basically lip service because most of them would refuse to spend any money whatsoever on SG music & musicians. A pyrrhic victory if there ever was one!

Also telling is the statistic that more than 40% of respondents were not exposed/unaware of OR not interested in SG music and musicians. Which adds up to a very small number of Singaporeans actually being into SG music and musicians.

What these stats tell us is that there is a lot of work still to be done to increase the appreciation of SG music and musicians here in Singapore. Worse still, when one attempts to monetize that appreciation, the numbers indicate that it is an uphill task indeed.

Much more needs to be done at the grass roots level to advocate for SG music and musicians and once again, we need to talk about a radio quota (most of those surveyed highlighted radio as the #1 source of music discovery!) and also to increase the amount of SG music being played in bars and clubs – whether live or recorded.

Courtesy of the National Arts Council

In this respect, it should be noted that it appears that females from 15-44 years old were shown to possess the strongest appreciation of SG music and definitely, this is a demographic that needs to be focused on.

Courtesy of the National Arts Council

The worst group? Male working adults from 25-64 years old, who were the least interested in music in general. Thus, there is more hope in developing the 15-34 demographic.

Courtesy of the National Arts Council

We feel that the best opportunity is in primary and lower secondary education where prejudices against SG music and musicians have not yet solidified and in this regard, this is where the music syllabus takes on more significance and importance. The recent efforts by MOE-STAR in this regard takes on much importance.

If nothing else, the survey is a very good starting point as it demonstrates very clearly that gains (if any) have been very small in the last few years and there is still a lot of work to be done. Whether or not, there will be investment of time, effort and money in this regards, depends on the will of the powers that be (and various stakeholders), to improve the SG music scene.

still there’s more

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