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S'pore could be playing bigger role in evolving music industry

Some leading record companies say the consumption habits of music fans in Asia will be major drivers for the music industry this century and Singapore could be playing a bigger part in the music scene.

SINGAPORE: The digital age is changing the way we consume music and posing new challenges to the music industry - be it coping with digitisation, trying to find new revenue or building an eco-system right here in Singapore.

Asia accounts for almost two-thirds of the world's population but only a quarter of all global music sales.

And according to some sales statistics, 80 per cent of the revenue for the music industry comes from about 10 countries.

Still, some leading record companies say the consumption habits of music fans in Asia will be major drivers for the music industry this century.

And Singapore could be playing a bigger part in the music scene.

Max Hole, chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group, explained: "The Singapore government have really encouraged business to come in to Singapore. Singapore has got great infrastructure, great legal system, business works here so you have lots of global brands here.

"But how we manage our business here is by helping a lot of global brands connect with their audience when they are trying to attract young consumers, music is a great add on for them to attract their consumers. We have this interesting business development mix in Singapore where we strategically market with telcos or computer companies using music to help them connect with the consumer."

New technology has also led to big changes for the music industry.

With the growing use of smartphones, leading music streaming apps such as iTunes and Spotify have made music directly available to consumers on the go, thereby almost eradicating the physical market.

And such software is no longer looked at as a nemesis.

Brian Message, chairman of MMF & Co-founder of ATC, said: "I am very much a supporter of the digital landscape and the digital economy. It's a difficult space between technology and rights holder organisations.

"I think we took some wrong turns when we tried to shut down Napster and all those things. I think we should have embraced it and I think we continue to try and embrace technology. You know piracy for me is a non-issue, I don't see that as a particular business threat. What I do see is digital technological change as an opportunity for us to get artists and fans closer."

But there are concerns that major music labels could try to use their market clout to secure for themselves beneficial deals on new streaming and digital music services.

"The behaviour of the majors in the digital market place is one of our concerns," said Charles Cadlas, CEO of Merlin.

He added: "I think what is happening is as the market gets more digital, the better it is for independents. The better it is for independents, the more challenging it is for the major labels. And we think the companies like that which are driven by short term success in a lot of ways are trying to extract maximum value in the short term instead of building long-term infrastructure."

Given the easy access to music online, some industry observers say the challenge in building strong local eco-systems begins with investing in local talent.

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