The Role of Live Streaming in Singapore’s Music Industry

1. Introduction

Singapore was chosen for this study because of her position in the critical economic and technological river part between the economies and musical environments of both the West and Asia. The paper begins with a historical overview of the development of the local music industry in comparison with the global scene. The importance of language in culture and hence in shaping local music is then discussed. These are followed by an examination of globalization effects on a nation’s popular music scene and the strength of economic drivers in creating a musical environment. People need music. What is considered music is defined by that range which the general public decides they can enjoy in a given period for the music industry. The background next describes how music typically comes to Singapore, after which the current boom of live-streaming capability is discussed. Before conclusions, a summary of Singapore’s music engagement and an overview of the Impact and Future of Growing Technology segment precede the Preliminary Conclusions.

Despite the global dominance of Western music, little attention is paid to Asian music, much less its cultural mechanism. This article uses the current phenomenon of live music streaming in Singapore to discuss and illustrate connections between Asia and the rest of the musical world through diversity in language and music. Musical interaction can happen through multiple modes, of which technological transmissions, such as TV and internet streaming, provide a channel but not the universal common mode. A bridge consisting of a diverse musical environment and communicators is necessary for intercultural musical exchange. Such interactions form the basis for continued cultural dialogues and understanding amongst nations.

1.1. Background of the Music Industry in Singapore

In recognizing this situation, the music industry in Singapore has embarked on a number of initiatives led by the major stakeholders, such as the national government and the related agencies, financial institutions, the non-governmental organizations, the industry associations, and the educational institutions, among others. One of the successful initiatives is the annual Music Matters event, which began in 2005. This week-long international music festival and conference features both international and local music acts and involves the important stakeholders from the music industry in its discussions. Its goal is to establish Singapore as the “hub of the rapidly growing business across Asia’s music and media industries, and for it to serve as the platform for these industries to discuss business opportunities, to explore collaborations, to develop business models, and to find new markets.

The music industries in many parts of the world have been facing a number of challenges, particularly with the rise of digital technologies. These challenges have affected the stakeholders within these industries, such as the musicians, sound engineers, music producers, publishers, event organizers, and recording companies, among others, to reconsider their respective roles within these industries. The situation is either similar or even more complex in Singapore, which because of its small market size and its open economy for global influences, may find difficulty in supporting a local music scene that is able to compete with the music productions from the USA and England. The music industry in Singapore also plays a part in the country’s goal of being an international entertainment and media city, and for it to be more vibrant and to produce Singaporean content, quality infrastructure, as well as the intellectual and creative capacities of the music industry enterprises are essential.

1.2. Definition and Importance of Live Streaming

The role of live stream service has been amplified in performing arts and entertainment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, live streaming Singapore was used as a marketing tool to offer non-broadcast television and radio content. Live streaming is the most popular form of video streaming for music concerts for many young people, especially those younger than 31 years old. It also holds a complementary role in public events for governments and non-governmental organizations. The Asia Pacific region is one of the fastest-growing markets for live streaming, and Asia is also the market leader in regard to the use of the live streaming app. Statista estimated that the number of live streaming users would continue to grow from 188.0 million in 2020 to 242.5 million by 2023. As for the live streaming market, it was expected to have a user penetration rate of 8.1 percent in 2020 and reach 9.5 percent by 2023, growing to 9.4 percent by 2025.

Live streaming is a live broadcast of the content created in real-time on the internet. The process of streaming media involves the presentation of data through an enabling medium where it is accessed by end-users. In the case of live telecasts, information is accessed and displayed as it occurs, in real-time or with minimal delay. Consequently, this method of communication is also known as a real-time protocol. The broadcast can be a combination of audiovisual, audio-only, or video-only. Live streaming shares common features with other media streaming protocols. For example, media files are distributed on the web and played live as opposed to being downloaded from a media server and later played offline.

2. Live Streaming Platforms in Singapore

A study by the National Arts Council (NAC) in Singapore mentioned that the recent uprise of live streaming platforms on the web is valuable in terms of providing exposure and building rapport with an audience. This helps in building passive engagement from their own validated target audience, which will eventually strengthen the value in sustained performance. Based on the statistics provided by WeSing, the trend of uploading or streaming with feature-rich content has been increasing significantly and expanding in the Southeast Asian market. It is fair to believe that music streaming platforms providing live streaming-like services in recent years are potentially able to serve as an addition and helpful to the continuation and growth of music in Singapore. In conclusion, there are various live streaming platforms that cater to different needs and tastes. Their features should be considered by musicians in preparation to effectively utilize live streaming as a growing trend for the continuation and exposure of interest in their pursuit.

There are several live streaming platforms offering different services, such as pre-recording videos, and some of them use a combination of social media and live streaming services. They have strong branding and operate regionally in Asia. Since the entertainment industry in Singapore is of Asian taste, hence these Asian LSPs are likely to be preferred by many amateur musicians in Singapore. Based in China, YY takes first place in the music category by garnering most of the top content creators. WeSing serves as YY’s mobile karaoke app, comprising 900 million registered users. BigoLive, originated from Singapore, is known for its video and voice call app. SingNow, the less-known app, offers a mobile karaoke app and can be applied to both live streaming events with and without prize giveaways within the app. These three applications offer live streaming services that facilitate musicians to perform, chat, and share their performance with a worldwide audience.

2.1. Key Platforms and Features

Established in 2007, Ustream was one of the first companies with the capabilities to stream live and recorded broadcasts to and from web and mobile devices. Their product offers a broad range of features such as viewing streaming video in real time from almost any location where there is a wireless or 3G connection available. Ustream also allows viewers to add comments through Facebook and Twitter, or use an independent chat feature. Broadcasters can insert ads into their video streams and also use the company’s analytics tool, Ustream Viewing Impact, to track live video metrics that includes the brand exposure generated by the commercials in the video, and viewer demographics such as gender, age, and geographic location. Furthermore, broadcasters can purchase optional security tools to help restrict the broadcasting of content through specifying geographic locations, blocking visitors from individual IP addresses, blocking viewers through inserting region codes, or blocking visitors through passwords.

3. Benefits and Challenges of Live Streaming in the Music Industry

On the other hand, we also queried on Sub-question 3: What are the challenges of live streaming and why are they proving to be daunting to the task of harnessing those benefits in Singapore? Analysis disclosed that the salient challenges of live streaming in the music industry are piracy, legal, regulatory, intellectual property rights, competitive saturation, economic viability, technical and talent quality, technology integration, issue conditioning, creative blockage, artist electronic platform fatigue due to numerous similar events, and cultural resistance, accessing a demographic that prefers consuming music via other music-related media. These challenges were found to collectively epitomize the industry’s digital transformation barriers which have forced the industry into being entrenched in the traditional music production and consumption.

Sub-question 2 asked: What are the benefits of live streaming and how can they be harnessed to facilitate growth in Singapore’s music industry? The results indicated that decreased entry barriers, improved fan engagement, global reach, increased market size, and the potential inclusion of a live component are salient benefits associated with live streaming in the music industry. Collectively, these findings reveal that live streaming brings about a digital transformation in the industry by moving beyond music production and consumption, thereby transforming the music industry’s traditional value chain. Analysis also uncovered operational mechanisms to realize these benefits: creating immersive experiences through interactive and engaging content, investing in community building by activating social and emotional connection, and deepening financial commitment by fostering non-monetary value before accelerating financial return. Further, commercializing derivative goods and services and the bundling of live concert performances with live streaming can tap and unlock additional value created by live streaming.

3.1. Benefits of Live Streaming for Artists

In conclusion, live stream concerts could serve as a time and cost-efficient alternative to in-person live performances. Although concert attendees are not physically present, live stream concert aims to provide fans with a new type of real-time experience, connecting fans to artists in a new and innovative manner.

Live stream allows artists to provide live interactive performance and bring about an opportunity for artists to connect with fans directly. Rather than posting recorded content, live stream concerts allow real-time interactions between artists and their fans, bringing live music to their fans. As most live streaming can be accessed on major social media platforms, it is easy to reach a larger audience as fans are assumed to be already active on these social media channels. Live stream concerts are also cost-efficient as there is no venue needed for the concert itself. This allows indie artists who may not have the financial capability to organize concerts or events to perform for their fans. Since artists can save the costs associated with venues, they can also save on streaming costs as most social media platforms providers have a free service. However, in return, artists have to deal with unstable broadcast connections and their live broadcast to be occasionally stifled by noise or reach freezing points.

3.2. Challenges and Limitations

The immediacy of listening to a live streaming performance is absent due to the recording, editing, transferring, and viewing processes. The lower perceived value of live streaming performance may result in asynchronous viewing, a high rate of aborted views, and unobligated attendees. The promiscuous attitude of audience members may neglect a long-term relationship with the singer. Paying attention to a show that is happening concurrently and physically real reduces the instances of contributing to the live experience, which “exponents” the value. Fill and refill of a virtual “passing tip jar” may not contribute to the same willingness to pay and spending extra on bidding. Counting “likes” and followers contributes to the “ex-post” value of an artist but fails to reward the artist despite having intrinsic and extrinsic value. Promoters may also require a larger portion of the “ex-ante” value by taking a greater cut due to their role in delivering the experience.

Live streaming performances, while virtual, do not replicate the actual experience of face-to-face interactions. A significant limitation of live streaming is the lack of physical presence of the audience. To create an engaging performance, other constituents of live performance are required. The digitization of music means a potential lack of physical connection to music. Listening to music has become virtual, and one can do that while engaging in other non-music-related activities such as working or surfing the internet. Not being required to focus on music during music production means that it can be made ambient and considered in the background for background consumption. Listening to ambient music while engaged in non-music-related tasks seems incompatible with live music as our cognitive attention gets pulled by the other task, and that distracts from music appreciation.

4. Case Studies

In both case studies, we employed a similar research strategy, which includes four thematic areas of investigation. The first part of the research examines the individual professional backgrounds of the two interviewees by providing a detailed account of their time spent within the Singaporean music industry. This set of questions helped to establish their credentials and provided an understanding of the strength and limitations of the traditional pathways for music success. The second part of the study inquired into the different experiences of artists when live streaming. This set of questions has thrown up different experiences between local and regional artists for comparison purposes. In addition, different situations, such as when iNCH took part in a Spanish reality television show, provide insights into the monetization of live streaming in contexts outside of the Singaporean music industry. The subsequent part asked about live streaming experiences by examining the technological setup and its subsequent impact on the artist. This feed-in straight into the final part of the research, which inquired extensively about the monetization of live streaming. It should be noted that we sought to cover different revenue streams due to the unique situations of both Linying and iNCH.

The following case studies provide an incisive understanding of the different experiences that emerge when artists from Singapore engage with live streaming platforms as part of their work, either while on the road or in their own homes. At the time of their interviews, singer-songwriters Linying and iNCH (now named Inch Chua) were the two most widely recognized and commercially successful female artists within the Singaporean music industry. Linying’s musical career is characterized by multiple viral hits on various streaming platforms, while iNCH has participated in numerous competition-based television shows. Both artists are involved in various areas of the local music industry, including live streaming and international touring, thus making it possible to have a comprehensive discussion about challenges and opportunities in relation to the present position of the Singaporean music industry and to create a contest immediately in confidence with these issues.

4.1. Successful Implementation of Live Streaming in Singapore

It pertains to the considerably reduced access for live bands to legitimate and lucrative income sinks from audiences wanting to hear their music during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wedding; Corporate; and F&B House bands always command more moolah per gig. It is because the revenue is possibly highly guaranteed with pre-hired bookings dependent on corporate agenda milestones/host legal tender vows and Q4 year-end celebrations. A pressing question is therefore: how can these financially vulnerable, full-time working musicians earn a sustainable keeping before the vaccines are safely administered in large numbers, admitted to market for general use, and achieve widespread acceptance for consumption in liquid form? FirstMile Leading Delivery Engineers 2021 acknowledges receipt of our seed idea.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has generously funded a grant to assist local and regional events and performances to transit to the online digital space. With at least 25% of performers and production crew based in Singapore, this has enabled music industry professionals to concertise and travel with a clear conscience. The implementation has been unfussily done. Traditional ticketing services such as Eventbrite can continue, but a digital payment gateway such as PayPal is encouraged. Also, there is considerable flexibility with the choice of video platform service providers such as Zoom, Twitch, and YouTube, which supports both the Independent Online Distribution, Virtual Event, or Virtual Exhibition categories—all of which seems to be based on a case-by-case basis. Fundraising events attached to performances such as ‘curtain-raisers’ have been observed for both the traditional virtual concert and the hybrid regular annual event.

5. Future Trends and Recommendations

In conclusion, corporations and investors ought to keep an eye on developments in the live streaming music sector as they offer unique investment potential in the action they will uncover within the broader music industry ecosystem. These concepts point toward road maps to help regulators blot out areas for developmental attention. Promotions should target new ways of promoting concerts, building on the interactive potentials of video games and live content in the video game superstructure, incorporating the stages of the experience economy. Discerning local and regional businesses can make use of these in Singapore to grow despite larger international competition. Clarity in the meaning of commitment will help both clients and providers to manage service provision in live outcomes.

  1. Conclusion This concept team aims to identify and promote the digital music ecosystem of the future building on existing explorations of business students in the NUS music ecosystem. Stating that the Covid-19 pandemic changes the way performance is delivered is only stating the obvious. How and in what way is the area that will be explored. First step directions are available. The assigned undergraduates will use semi-structured interviews and consideration of the issue areas discussed in this concept paper to offer dialogic information about the subject.

The team identified future trends and signed off on these two areas that the undergraduates should focus on for their written reports: 1. The blurring of gaming and concerts; and 2. The hunt for authenticity. The recommendations put forth in these two areas are: 1. “Extreme Digital Experience” or concerts with gaming interactivity can be promoted at this level to redefine concerts. This requires combined efforts from game developers and event promoters but must not compromise on exclusivity of these experiences to remain appealing. Its effects can be tested at this level in live event promotions. 2. Bourdieu’s field theory can be used as a template to manage this search for authenticity.

5.1. Emerging Technologies and Innovations

YouTube, recognizing music and gaming as its main draw, has made live streaming a feature available in 2010 for its finalized partners and became widely available in 2013. The YouTube Live Mobile app for both Android and iOS was launched in 2015, after the proliferation of mobile devices. Observing music and other channel users conducting gameplays, creating vlogs, and interacting live in real-time, people formed an on-screen communal experience with these internet personalities. Newcomers increasingly engage with these channels, create user-generated content themselves, and even subscribe to or give direct donations to the channel users. Given that the digital hinterland in Asia has adopted music piracy as a viable alternative, the immediate question arises as to whether fans in the developing world are also using the new practical and legitimate avenues for music dissemination, while these platform leaders attract larger user numbers.

Rapidly evolving technologies have been changing not only cultural production processes, but also the way they have been consumed and disseminated. The recording of music, the first wave of the digital music revolution, is no longer the only medium through which consumers access content, as streaming music services expand in both adoption and use. Large and small musical talents include YouTube, the video streaming leader, to disseminate individual works instantaneously and for minimal cost. High broadband speeds have enabled higher quality video content to be broadcast in real time, making live video streaming more popular with current music platforms, such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitch Music.

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