Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Can I be candid about your music? If I am and you hear something you don't like, will you hate me? Will you even listen?

One thing I learnt from the Baybeat Auditions last Saturday was that there are (too) many bands recording and releasing EPs when they are clearly not ready to do so. Sure, you've got a couple of songs (many 5 or 6) and have saved money (or rich enough) to do so but just because you can should you?

In my opinion, if you only have 5 to 6 songs - then you are not ready. By the time I was preparing for my first album in 1993, I was 32 and had been writing songs for more than 15 years. I had definitely more than 5 or 6 songs to choose from - maybe more than a thousand! From that number, I selected 13 songs (well, 14 plus Gum) and the resulting album - Democracy - was voted BigO's Local Album for that year.

Even if those 5 or 6 songs pass muster, you still need to get it right in the recording studio and if you've never recorded before, it can be a challenging (not to mention expensive) matter. And after that? You need to market and promote the EP and hopefully, you have the right expertise and contacts to give your EP, the maximum exposure. Unless you have someone in your band who is savvy with such issues or a manager who knows what he/she is doing, it can be an uphill and thankless task.

In terms of recording and production, I have been fortunate to have self-produced 4 full-length albums and 2 EPs and as for marketing, I'm proud to say that I've managed to promote 2 Popland albums overseas, even getting a US release for the last Popland CD, Action!

Now, wouldn't it be nice if you could get professional advice on whether your songs are ready for recording and furthermore to be guided on the recording and marketing process? Haha, I guess if you've read this far, you know where I'm going with this. This is where I come in to fill in the gaps for you and your band.

If all of the above describes where you are with your music and your band, then get in touch at info (at) powerofpop (dot) com and let's see how I can help you.

... still there's more ...


emily said...

zee avi had ONE song. she was discovered singing that one xmas song and now, she's in NY making it big. You don't need to have a thousand songs to make it big. when you have it, you have it.

so many singers are being discovered online from sites like youtube and myspace. It's so much easier now to reach out and market songs because the internet speeds it up like crazy.

times a changin'.

by the way, I am not a musician, just a music lover.

Kevin Mathews said...

Hi Emily

Thanks for your input. There will always be exceptions to the rule. I still believe even in the internet age that everything I wrote in the article applies.
The fact that the internet is available means that there is actually MORE competition and the need to be distinctive is even GREATER. Which is why then that direction and guidance is still crucial.
In any case, even though not expressly stated in the article, my comments were directed at the Singapore music scene and Singaporean artists/bands.
AND... how do you know that Zee Avi really had ONE song - it makes for a good PR tale, doesn't it?

Emily said...

quantity does not mean quality Kevin. Sure experience in songwriting and having more than 5 or 6 songs is better than one good song but in music or the arts in general, I always think you'll figure it out in the early stages if you're made for it or not. Practice alone does not cut it, gotta have talent which isn't something one can acquire ever. That's why when you look at the cohort in an art school, it's pretty easy to filter out those who can make it and those who don't in the first year. Either you have it or you don't. By the 5th song I think you're able to figure out if one is musically inclined or not. In the Internet age, there is no time to wait. Everything's sped up, no time to wait and churn out a million tunes. The bands have eps and recordings so they can get their music out there pronto. Easier to market young faces than a struggling artist in his late twenties right :) ?

Kevin Mathews said...


Yes, merits in your comments.

But I notice that you're putting words in my mouth - for eg I never said that quantity = quality.

So let's agree to disagree then.


Anonymous said...

Sure, Emily, quantity does not equal quality. But then,the chances of coming up with really good songs get higher if you have more than four or five songs under your belt. For e.g., if someone writes 30 songs, the chances are that out of those 30, maybe at 10 of them are good. So, in other words, the more songs you write, the better your chances of turning out at least a few good ones.

You said, "In the Internet age, there is no time to wait. Everything's sped up, no time to wait and churn out a million tunes." Hmmm, probably that's why, imho, many bands/artists who never take the time to hone their craft usually come up with crap music most of the time. This probably accounts for a lot of carbon-copy, mediocre, visionless "modern rock" or "emo" bands and mainstream pop artistes in the global pop scene, today. While it might be true that it is "easier to market faces than a struggling artist in his late 20's," I think therein lies the tragedy. People are so used being instantly amused by bubblegum pop in this age, that many of us have forgotten the value of patience and appreciating music of great beauty that could only have been grown out of many years of paying one's dues playing to many almost-empty rooms or having many doors slammed in one's face before finally getting that hit song on the internet or on the radio. If insubstantial "instant noodle" pop entertainment is what the Internet generation wants, that that is all that it will get as that is what it deserves. While I do like my instant noodles every now and then, I'd rather go for fine, aged wine any day.

- Ivan