Label drives music industry ahead

Label drives music industry ahead
House of Riot artists and management.

The House of Riot concert this weekend will mark a couple of milestones in local music history - it is the label's most ambitious project to date and the first time homegrown indie acts are trying to fill the 1,600-seat Esplanade Concert Hall on their own through a ticketed gig, no less.

"This is definitely the biggest show that House of Riot has produced; it's a very meaningful endeavour for us as we are really driven by a bigger purpose of changing the face of Singaporean independent music," says Mike See, who co-founded the label with his wife Eugenie Yeo.

The triple-headliner showcase will also mark a couple of firsts (and last) for the acts, who are all signed to the label.

Singer-songwriter Inch Chua will play her homecoming show after living alone on Pulau Ubin since March as part of the island's Artist in Residency programme; neo-soul crooner Charlie Lim will debut material off his new double EP Time/Space, which shot to No 1 on the iTunes chart hours after its release earlier this week; and power-pop quintet The Great Spy Experiment, the first band Riot signed in 2006, will call it a day after a decade together.

Says Mr See: "We hope to create a milestone not just for our artists but for indie musicians here at large, and hopefully inspire them to believe that they are just as well-positioned to deliver a world-class experience at a world-class venue."

At S$50 a ticket, the show is priced at almost twice as much as what local bands typically charge (granted you are getting three acts for the price of one here) but response has been encouraging. At press time, stall and first-level circle seats have sold out, leaving just limited seating on the two upper balconies.

"(We priced it) based on experience from previous shows, as well as the balance between profitability and accessibility - we clearly do not want this to be a loss-making venture, yet at the same time it's equally important that we price this at a level that's accessible to our target audience," explains Mr See.

He also notes that "the rule of thumb is that musicians need to be properly compensated for their work (be it) through ticket sales, fixed fees by organisers or a barter of services" and bands should not hesitate to say no if they feel that they are being exploited when asked to play for free.

But the public has also become more receptive to paying for shows by local artists - just last week, Hanging Up The Moon sold out both its performances at The Substation while The Observatory has been selling tickets for its gigs for years now.

In a way, that has taught music lovers to be more discerning, especially since they are spoilt for choice with so many new acts waiting to be discovered.

"(The fans) no longer just blindly take what the media tells them to consume - they pick and choose what is deserving of their time and attention," notes Mr See.

"This is a good thing for the industry at large - musicians putting out content with solid quality will benefit and continue to proliferate; and those who don't work at their craft will naturally get weeded out - or at least that's how it should work."

dylantan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 5, 2015.
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