Thanks to Shahida Sarhid to wrote a follow-up piece of Zaibaktian’s call for a local “Grammy” awards for Singapore, and interviewed me via email about whether it can or should be done at all. The article is only available on on subscription. It was out yesterday. Here’s the original email conversation between us, albeit in English.

1. Would there be a possibility of organising an award that specifically highlight the works our Singaporean Malay musician?

When Anugerah Hitz was organized by MediaCorp as a precursor to Anugerah Planet Muzik 2010, it was a great idea to have a Singapore-only show to celebrate only Singapore talent. It was the only time it took place. To organize another award show, outside of Anugerah Planet Muzik, would actually beat the purpose considering a lot of Singaporean artistes put their hopes into performing, being nominated, or winning at APM. However, a lot of local talents feel that APM has become a symbol of diplomacy and siratulrahim amongst the Nusantara countries, instead of a true recognition of talents.To organize a brand new award show that recognizes and rewards purely Singaporean talents would require us to also educate the public first before it becomes valuable to the nominees and recipients of the awards.
2. If no, what are some of the constraints?

– Singaporeans are not known to purchase music, whether physically or digitally. Everyone is on smartphones but not necessarily literate about downloading or streaming music legally. Therefore we cannot tabulate the MOST popular, or MOST downloaded/purchased music.
–  The artistes are not hungry enough for it. If one wants to be popular/recognized on YouTube, I think we should have moved on from recording webcam videos (ada kipas kat belakang, katil masih berselerak, guitar tak tune) to semi-professional videos properly shot with a camera crew (yang terlalu ramai sekarang). 
– The artistes who really deserve the attention and recognition, are never rewarded properly. Kalau show biasa pun kadang tak dibayar, apa lagi a big award show that requires big capital? No cash prizes, still?


– Artistes/Bands MUST release all their music digitally: iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Singtel Amped, and new media from telcos M1, Starhub all have the platforms.
– Radio/TV/newspapers must allow artistes/bands to promote their digital links, in an effort to educate the masses.
– Artistes/Bands must recognize their craft as work. If they portray themselves to have no effort, half-baked, ill-disciplined, then that’s how people will treat them as well.
– Don’t perform for free in the guise of it being for recognition. Some artistes garner more attention on FB and Instagram then from people who come to watch the shows they are invited to. Choose well.
3. Sponsorship and funds has always been an issue when organizing such an award show. How can we tackle this problem so our local musicians find a sense of self worth that their works are being appreciated in a more formal manner?

Artistes with music appearing on radio, singles selling digitally or physically, or appear regularly on TV with hopes of building a name for oneself, should never receive too small a pay cheque anymore. And organizers, big and small, media-related, corporate or individuals, should never “salam keruk” with artistes/bands anymore (taking whatever the organizer wants to give) There should be a clear understanding that artistes should be paid for their work before the work is done.When the majority of the community understands this, then we can move on to discuss about tackling sponsorships/funding for award shows.
We can start by recognizing ONE artiste/band every year, by allowing them to receive grants/funding from several avenues to produce an album and a concert, and ultimately, to tour/perform outside of the country.

4. Is there any other way to celebrate the works of our local musician apart from an award show?

Artistes have to go out and organize their own shows and tours like American artistes do. Don’t limit oneself to the shows that you’re invited to.  Perform for 10 people, 30 people, 100 people. When you build a consistent following, a thousand people will know who you are for your work. Singaporeans love to go out and lepak, try out new food places to go but never made watching concerts, shows, theatre part of this experience. If bands/artistes provide this opportunity to Singaporeans, then it would finally kick-start something that American artistes do internationally since the 1960s. Artistes/Bands should aim higher than just to be popular, aim to be long-lasting. Because when popularity fades, the good songs always stays with the fans.

To answer your question, should Singapore have its own Malay grammies? Personally no. Ask me why in another interview.
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