‘Returning with a bang’: Singapore musicians talk about resurgence of local live music, demand for Taylor Swift and Coldplay concerts echoes

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SINGAPORE — Seeking to make up for the time and money lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, full-time musician Simon Yung played night after night until he was exhausted late last year.

Yong, 45, is one of many musicians who told TODAY that job opportunities have increased significantly over the past year since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

The high interest in live music is the result of pent-up demand as music lovers want to enjoy their favorite performances as much as possible and catch up with the music-filled celebrations of important events. They say there is.

Before the pandemic, Yong performed at live bars about three nights a week and appeared at private or corporate events an average of two to three times a month.

After an exhausting finish last year, Yong is now turning down many invitations to perform in order to protect his health and make sure he has enough time with his family.

Still, he plays twice a week at a local bar and restaurant called The Blackbird in Gilman Barracks, and does other events about six times a month.

“Large events such as weddings, corporate events and music festivals have been postponed for two years.

“Birthday parties, usually big ones like 50th, 70th and 80th birthday parties, but we’ve done it before. More recently, couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary I’ve played for!”

Inquiries about events are currently four to five times higher than before the new coronavirus infection.

Yong, who has 17 years of experience as a musician, estimates that the number of such events has more than doubled compared to pre-corona, given the pent-up demand.

And he expects more event requests for the rest of the year.

While Yong and other local musicians say there’s a resurgence in demand for domestic talent, the seemingly voracious appetite for live music can be seen among the global artists headed here.

Thousands of fans lined up physically and online for tickets to see Taylor Swift and Coldplay’s international sensational concert here, and experts alike were overwhelmingly interested. We believe that this is due to pent-up demand.

Hasim Suhaimi, co-founder, bandleader and guitarist of local cover band The Shaggies, has also witnessed a surge in both live and event opportunities at clubs.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Suhaimi played in bars and clubs about four nights a week and hosted at least one private or corporate event a month.

Since the lifting of restrictions, Suhaimi and his band have received offers to play up to five nights a week and now host private and corporate events at least twice a month.

Suhaimi also highlights that clients tend to request songs in different languages, such as Korean, Indonesian, and especially Chinese songs.

To accommodate this growing demand for Mandarin pop music, Suhaimi and his band have made efforts to learn songs from popular Mando pop stars like Ah Mei and Jackie Chan despite the language barrier. rice field.

“If people request these songs in advance for an event, we take that as an opportunity to use them at future gigs,” he said.

“If there’s a lot of requests for a certain song during a show, I’ll go and learn that song as well,” the 59-year-old said.

Facilities that offer live music

Venues offering live music have also seen an increase in patronage across the board, with companies improving the live music experience and even expanding to add live music to their repertoire of services.

At Osomatsu Japanese Kitchen and Bar in Tanjong Katong, the owner recently purchased a karaoke unit next door and combined the units to renovate the space, creating a stage for live music and additional seating space.

Restaurant Manager Alex Lam has witnessed an increase in customer numbers and a wider customer base.

“Before we expanded our business, most of our customer base was families. Now we have even more teenagers,” said the 36-year-old.

After adding live music, Lam estimates that the store has an average of 30 customers at any given time, up from 15 to 20 before the renovation.

Lam said customers are also staying longer.

“Customers come to us, eat, and enjoy the music.

Mark Huang, founder and managing director of Level Up Arcade and Live Music Bar, estimates that his store at Clarke Quay has seen a 30% increase in overall customer numbers in recent years.

Customer attendance is also spread across the week.

“Before coronavirus, there were no bands playing on Sundays,” the 38-year-old said.

“But after Corona, I realized that people are out almost every day, so I wanted to offer live music every day,” he said.

“We also hired a larger multilingual band that can sing Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and even Thai songs to give our guests the best possible experience.”

After restrictions were lifted, Huang upgraded the overall live music experience by purchasing top-of-the-line lighting, speakers and instruments.

The company also has a dance floor for patrons.

Co-founder and CEO of Timbre Group, Danny Loong is no stranger to the live music scene, having played in his own band when he was younger.

Loong, 51, decided to create a live music platform in Singapore and started Timbre+ 18 years ago. Timbre+ brands itself as an ‘upgraded urban food park’, The company now operates in three different locations, each with live music six nights a week.

Some bands, such as 53A, who appear in this year’s National Day Parade, have been performing at various venues in Timble since 2005.

Loon observed a 30% increase in sales last year since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

But he warns that the live music scene remains unpredictable, both for musicians and for the venues that serve it.

He cited weather and economic conditions as factors that could affect the popularity of live music.

Nonetheless, Ron believes that community contributes to the longevity of live music.

“It’s all up to the audience and the customers to keep this alive. We’re doing our part: hiring them, paying them, attracting customers for them,” he said. Told.

“When I see a band perform on my stage, it makes me so happy. Seeing the audience clapping their hands makes me even happier. Young people see this kind of confidence on stage.” , should be inspired.”

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