Local music artists: composing diverse development in Macao

06 2020 | issue39
Text/Lai Chou In

The way we consume music has drastically changed in the past few years if we compared recent development to that of one or two decades ago. Music streaming platforms have dominated the music scene as physical albums gradually fade away from people’s attention. Music artists need to come up with innovative ways to make music in this industry to keep up with the trend. In this issue, we have invited representatives from three music groups in Macao to share their stories with us. Some of them have opened their studios, some have developed their career beyond Macao, while some have gone from behind scenes to the stage. The commonality that they share is that they all seek to diversify their work so as to remain competitive in this emerging local market.

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Vivian Chan: sailing around the world on a “wooden boat”


Vivian Chan completed her 100-day tour journey recently, travelling to countries that she had never been to before, such as Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Besides a romantic encounter, Chan also got the inspiration to open her studio during the journey. She decided to exit from the traditional record agency model to find new aspiration with greater freedom.


Bittersweet burdens


Although Chan only started the studio in March this year, she already had the idea since the very beginning of 2019. “I had worked with this company (Chessman Entertainment) for about seven or eight years. I had tried many different areas as an entertainer, including singing, acting and being an event host,” Chan recalled. “So I had been thinking about whether there is something new that I can try. Many artists in mainland China have started their studios and take control of their image and career. This inspired me to open my studio for my development.”


After negotiating with the company, Chan partnered with Chessman Entertainment and started Wooden Boat Music Studio. Chessman Entertainment is now a business partner of hers. “The biggest difference is that when I was an artist, the agency would arrange different activities and works for me. I would follow the agency’s arrangements, such as when to release a new album. I only needed to be a good performer,” Chan explained. “Now I am in charge of the studio. I can’t distribute all the works to other people, which means I need to take on more responsibilities. Chessman Entertainment is more of a supportive role to me now as they are not directly involved in the operation.”


In other words, Chan has to oversee all levels of the studio’s operation, from coming up with an idea, to turning it into a reality, from networking to controlling costs. However, Chan feels that these are new burdens that make her feel happy. “Now I have to build up my brand image on my own. I could share my ideas directly with other people without having to go through a lot of procedures,” Chan explained. “I feel like my career has entered the next stage.” Although there are still a lot of things that Chan needs to learn, she has the confidence to handle all these challenges because of her rich experience accumulated through years of professional work.

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Vivian Chan started her studio Wooden Boat Music Studio  Photo courtesy of interviewee


Diverse business operation


Chan kicked off her career as a singer after participating in a singing competition in Hong Kong. Even though Chan had tried out different directions as an entertainer, she still has several ideas that she wants to realise through the studio. “For example, I have thought about organising music festivals, or designing fan merchandise for the studio,” Chan said. “I am interested in drawing and designing. I studied design back in school. So I want to combine my interest with my work.”


Becoming a KOL (key opinion leader) in travelling and lifestyle is also a direction that Chan wants to try out in the future. Chan made use of her 100-day journey that took place at the year-end of 2019 and made some short videos for putting on social media. She even planned some activities. But the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her plans and therefore she would have to postpone them. “There are a lot of business opportunities online. I could help my potential clients to reach their target audience by building up my image on social media,” she explained, believing that diversifying one’s career is very important in Macao. She added that full-time singers in Macao cannot rely simply on their singing career to make a livelihood.


Experiencing different cultures on a 100-day tour  Photo courtesy of interviewee

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Experiencing different cultures on a 100-day tour  Photo courtesy of interviewee


Not about simply following trends


Chan’s focus is still about her music career. She has launched three albums and several singles so far. “The first two albums mostly consist of love songs. My third album is more of the folk genre. And the two singles I recently rolled out, for example, Silence, contain some philosophical thinking,” Chan explained. “I am hoping to incorporate more discussion about life in my songs.” According to Chan, she had done some market research and found that most of her fans enjoy her love songs, which is the reason why her future works will still be more or less constrained by the image of “Vivian Chan”. But of course, she will start adding some elements she likes into her songs. Chan will also try to compose and write her songs. “As a singer, you cannot simply follow the trends in the market because the market changes so fast,” Chan stressed. “If you only follow the trends, you will easily get lost.”


Staying true to the original goal


“In the past, people would ask me why I would want to be a singer considering I wasn’t especially good at singing and that I was small and didn’t look very pretty,” Chan said. “I was like ‘why not give it a try when you have the chance?’ I mean, if you don’t try it, how would you know it won’t work, right?” Chan recalled the time when she was determined to pursue her dream even though the conditions were not very good ten years ago. “I have been working in this industry for some time. And I still remember it was this courage that I had that helped me embark on this journey.”