By Eddino Abdul Hadi and Yeow Kai Chai
Source: ST Communities
Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh's recent call for the authorities to set a broadcast quota for airtime play of Singapore music on local radio is not new.
Proponents of the home-grown music industry have called for similar initiatives in the past few years.
Neither is it new to hear critics of the quota idea say there is not enough good local content to fill airtime. A listen of the recent acclaimed releases by home-grown acts Monster Cat, Pleasantry, Atlas, The Observatory and The Pinholes will lay to rest that argument. Monster Cat's debut album, for instance, has generated both critical and fan acclaim.
The first single off the release, Take Me To Love, shot to the top spot in iTunes' Singapore sales charts in February, beating international heavyweights such as Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera. Mr Shahid Isahak, vice-president of The Music Society, Singapore, says the non-profit organisation has seen "a sizeable number of Singapore-made recordings that meets broadcast standards".
The 31-year-old adds: "We attribute it largely to upgrades our music community has undertaken, with access to studios and engineers in and outside of Singapore. And I find this to be only improving."
Veteran music producer Leonard Soosay - who has worked with Monster Cat, Pleasantry, Atlas as well as other local acts such as The Great Spy Experiment - has seen a vast improvement in the quality of songwriting and song arrangements in recent releases by home-grown bands.
"The younger bands these days are more well-versed not just in songwriting but also in the use of their equipment."
Soosay, who runs recording studio Snakeweed Studios and is a mentor to budding bands in the Esplanade's Baybeats music festival this year, adds:
"We've seen more youth picking up instruments and taking their music more seriously rather than just as hobbyists."
Mr Jamie Meldrum, senior programme director of radio stations Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3, says:
"It's not that there aren't any talented musicians here. Right now, we have more local Top 40 artists with genuine hits than we've ever had. Trick, Ming Bridges, J. Clement, Gentle Bones and Kevin Lester are all on HOT FM and being voted for by Singaporeans in the Hot30 Countdown on a daily basis.
"But radio stations have specific target audiences and formats, so not every local artist is going to be suitable. If we're forced to play tracks which can't stand up between Justin Timberlake and Beyonce's latest, then I think that portrays our local artists in a negative light."