music distribution

Cyrus Chen, Head of TuneCore (Southeast Asia)

Cyrus Chen: Plans in Southeast Asia, services to attract indie music labels and producers and partnerships that will last a lifetime.

Cyrus Chen Head of Tune Interview with Music Press Asia

Image: Cyrus Chen (Tunecore)

Independent musicians in Southeast Asia (SEA) have had to reimagine how they perform, distribute, and sell music in the wake of the pandemic, as we continue to see consumer behaviours shift, as the digital and virtual space take prominence over traditional ways.

As the independent music scene looks to recover from the effects of the pandemic, many artists are becoming more open to experiment, and to explore novel means to get their music out to their fans, as well as listeners that may be new to their music. In an email interview with Head of TuneCore (Southeast Asia) Cyrus Chen, Music Press Asia explores the value held by TuneCore in providing wholesome services as an indie distributor and talent expansion.

In your opinion, how has the independent music industry in SEA evolved without neglecting its traditional ways, given the current circumstances?
The growth of the music industry has inevitably been impacted hard by the pandemic, affecting live performance revenues, sponsorships, distribution, and ad spend among others. The pandemic has created underlying trends that would change not only the industry itself but also for artists and consumers alike.

In today’s climate, future-proofing the independent music scene is more relevant than ever because of the pandemic. This is done by identifying aspects or processes within the music industry that demands to be updated, as the use of technology in music production and circulation advances. The very nature of independent music requires musicians and industry players in Southeast Asia to be agile and continuously experiment with their music, including strategising the steps they take to get their music known.

With TuneCore, Southeast Asian talents and creators get to take advantage of the current climate as a sandbox for innovation to approach the future of independent music industry in the region, with the fresh perspective necessary to incorporate new technology and to embrace the changes that are currently taking place within the industry.

What do you think is the perception of independent music creators towards digital music aggregation?
Music consumption habit is shifting in response to changing new routines. For many artists – whether they are signed or independent, the way they engage with their listeners and fans need to evolve based on the changes in listening behaviours. Virtual events, video series and even partnerships are gaining popularity on platforms like Twitch and Instagram.

For independent artists specifically, as opportunities to perform for a live audience gets reduced, so does their income. However, what this does is that it also creates opportunities for artists to engage with an even larger audience with streaming services now playing a more important role in meeting consumers’ behaviours. In Asia alone, the number of potential music listeners is expected to exceed 3.5 billion[1].

Independent artists in Southeast Asia are also experiencing a wider musical awakening because of the global mood of introspection prompted by the pandemic, as these artists look to express themselves in novel forms, they are also more open to explore new avenues[2].

How is TuneCore as a platform helping the growth of SEA’s independent artists, in light of recovery from the pandemic?
The music industry has inevitably been impacted hard by the pandemic, affecting live performance revenues, sponsorships, distribution and ad spend among others. It has created underlying trends that would change not only the industry itself but also for artists and consumers alike.

“In Asia alone, the number of potential music listeners is expected to exceed 3.5 billion[3].”

TuneCore services include:
TuneCore Music Publishing Administration, where we assist songwriters by administering their compositions through licensing, registration, worldwide royalty collections, and placement opportunities in film, TV, commercials, video games and more.

TuneCore Artist Services, where we offer a suite of tools and services that enable artists to promote their craft, connect with fans, and get their music heard.

TuneCore Rewards, a first-of-its-kind, a multi-level educational programme which allows TuneCore artists to unlock rewards and VIP status through career education. This is free for all TuneCore artists.

TuneCore x Believe Signed By Program, where rising-star artists who release music via TuneCore are upstreamed to our parent company, Believe, where their careers are further accelerated.

What does TuneCore’s expansion in SEA could mean for the future of indie music in the region?
Since our expansion into the Southeast Asia region, we’ve partnered up with various organisations to plan and execute initiatives that help independent artists to grow exponentially. These partnerships include:

HOOKSpace in Indonesia, where we provide independent artists with education on marketing, promotion and best ways to navigate their careers in order to reach the widest audiences.

FungJai in Thailand, a music community that connects musicians and their fans through engaging online platforms and offline activities, such as music streaming, an online magazine, concerts, and seminars. We are working together to develop educational content curated for DIY artists and their unique needs across FungJai’s platforms.

SGMUSO in Singapore, where we celebrated our anniversary by donating to SGMUSO’s Musician Support Fund (MSF), which supports the Fund-A-Gig program. This is the 3rd edition of Fund-A-Gig in the last 12 months and was created to support Singapore’s musicians and artists who have lost performance opportunities and revenue due to the prolonged effects of COVID-19 on the nightlife and live music industry.

PhilPop in the Philippines, where we are one of the sponsors for their 2021 Songwriting DigiCamp, an activation targeted towards aspiring songwriters across the Philippines. The DigiCamp is one of PhilPop’s key 2021 programs, and leads into the PhilPop 2022 Songwriting Festival, a year-long celebration of original Filipino music compositions.

TuneCore’s services include: Music Publishing Administration, Artist Services, a rewards programme and Signed By Program, where music releases are upstreamed to Believe, its parent company. Read more about its services here.

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The interview above has been edited for length and clarity purposes.

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