Why didn't Stefanie Sun start tour here?

Why didn't Stefanie Sun start tour here?

This year saw one of the biggest comebacks in Mandopop by a local artist, which led to the question, where does Singapore figure in all this?

After her 11th album It's Time (2011), home-grown singer Stefanie Sun walked down the aisle with her Dutch Indonesian beau in May 2011 and then gave birth to a boy in October 2012.

She settled into marriage and motherhood and kept largely out of the public eye with the exception of some photo shoots for magazines and promotion appearances.

Then in September last year, the publicity machine began to rev up. There was a swanky press conference held at Capella Singapore Hotel's grand ballroom and reporters from more than 80 regional and local media outfits turned up.

Sun announced her return to the music industry with an official signing ceremony with new label Universal Music.

Her highly anticipated album, Kepler, was released in February and duly went to No. 1 on album charts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

Her major world tour kicked off in Taipei on Feb 14 and heads to Shanghai on April 19. According to the schedule on Universal Music Taiwan's website, this will be followed by Guangzhou, Xiamen, Tianjin, Chongqing, Chengdu, Beijing, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Fuzhou in October.

But where does Singapore register on the radar? A date has yet to be fixed for her Singapore gig, which is tentatively scheduled for the second half of the year. It might well be announced at her Singapore fan meet at JCube on Saturday.

Of course, the fact that a Singapore artist can sell out two nights at the vaunted Taipei Arena is something Singaporeans should be happy about and proud of. The 20,000 tickets to her two shows were reportedly snapped up in just 46 minutes.

But one cannot help but ask why Sun did not kick off her comeback tour on home ground. It would have been a symbolic gesture that would cheer the hearts of fans here and arguably, one that is unlikely to have a negative impact on ticket sales for her shows elsewhere.

Sun is Singapore's biggest pop export in recent years and estimates of her total albums sales range between 10 and 30 million. She is not just coasting on past glories. Her last album, It's Time, was the second best-selling album in Taiwan in 2011, selling over 75,000 copies there.

Her appeal is not merely commercial either. She won the prestigious Golden Melody Award for Best New Artist (2001) and for Best Female Mandarin Singer in 2005 for the album Stefanie (2004). In total, she has been nominated six times for best female singer.

It would be nice to celebrate her achievements at a more meaningful than usual concert.

To be fair, artists do not usually start off their world tours on home ground. Acclaimed Taiwanese band sodagreen will be kicking off their 10th-anniversary tour in Hong Kong in April while Singapore singer-songwriter JJ Lin began his 10th-anniversary tour last July at Taipei Arena as well.

Artists would want to start a tour with a bang and selling out iconic venues such as Taipei Arena and the Hong Kong Coliseum certainly help to create buzz.

But Sun would have no problem selling out one night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium either. Previously, The Answer Is... Stefanie Sun World Tour 2009 attracted a capacity crowd of 7,500.

And if the Singapore Indoor Stadium is not quite iconic enough a venue, then how about a series of shows at Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay?

After all, that was recently chosen by Hamburg-based building data company Emporis as one of the 15 most beautiful concert halls in the world.

Take that, Taipei Arena.

Actually, the gesture would not be merely symbolic. Given the pent-up demand for a Stefanie Sun concert, fans from across the region, including Singapore, flew into Taipei to be among the first to catch her back in action.

If the first stop had been Singapore, her biggest fans here would have saved a bundle. And an enterprising operator could have marketed a Sun-and-sunny- Singapore tour package for diehard regional fans.

According to the Esplanade's audience surveys for its Mosaic Music Festival, about 9 per cent of its attendees are from overseas. Using that as a very rough approximation, that is potentially 1,800 overseas fans who could have come to Singapore instead of going to Taipei.

So really, putting Singapore first sounds more and more like a viable plan.

It might occur to some that the same reasoning could be applied to local films such as award-winning family drama Ilo Ilo, which made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

In the case of films though, there is a more obvious cost with choosing to premiere in Singapore as opposed to elsewhere. The world premiere of a film is a card that a film-maker can play only once and he would want to use it to gain entry to the most prestigious film festival possible. And in the hierarchy of festivals, Cannes, Berlin and Venice would be right at the top.

With Sun though, starting a concert tour on home ground would seem to have minimal downside.

To be clear though, this is not about whether an artist is patriotic or not in deciding where to perform. Rather, this is about the opportunity for us to wave the flag for one of our own at an especially meaningful comeback.


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