Can the Best of the Pop Music Awards set a new benchmark for the Macao music scene?

09 2015 | Issue 9

Text/Day Ng

The TDM Best of the Pop Music Awards presents awards to 10-plus Macao musicians every year, and is regarded as one of the major indicators in Macao pop music. Are these awards merely trophies on the shelves? Or do they bring valuable opportunities to Macao musicians in addition to receiving the awards?

This year, the Awards again gave birth to 12 favourite songs. Macao musician Joe Lei has once again stepped on the stage to receive his award. Having acted as a judge of the Awards and also a multiple-times winner, Lei is witnessing the improvement of the Awards in front of, as well as behind the scene. Lei had dressed casually to go on stage for the past years, but this year, surrounded by dressed-up artists, he had no choice but to attend the ceremony wearing suits. Qualities of entries in the past years are mixed and Lei could win home an award even if he didn’t try his best. But with the improvement in entries’ quality, Lei no longer takes it lightly and gives his best to his works.

The earlier editions of the Awards were more like essay-writing competitions: awards were given to good lyrics and melodies, and there were little difference between the Awards and other music-creation awards. But into its 13th year, creativity alone no longer suffices—the overall production of the songs and even the quality of packaging and performance have to be top-notch in order to stand out. Almost all awardees this year are backed by entertainment production companies in music production and promotion. One can tell that the production companies have put in a lot of effort for the competition just by a look—dances are specially arranged, and stylists are hired to put make-up on artists from head to toe. TDM does not slack on the programme production either, setting colourful animation backdrops and stage lightings to enhance artists’ performances.

“It is human nature to love winning and collecting awards. The Best of the Pop Music Awards has provided a common fighting goal for Macao musicians and production companies, unified us together to produce good music, and enhanced the overall level of Macao music through competition,” said Joe Lei.

In China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, although the production of music awards is more mature and more influential, they have become a “pond” for major entertainment production companies to “fish for” awards. No extra attention is put on outstanding musicians, especially independent ones. “In the Commercial Radio of Hong Kong, it is almost impossible for a less well-known singer to appear and receive an award out of the blue.”

Lei has not listened to most of the award-winning favourite songs before the prize-giving ceremony this year. But after listening to them, Lei gave recognition to their value. “There is no 100% fairness in awarding, but the Best of the Pop Music Awards is still commending musicians with real talent, regardless of their fame and whether they are backed by companies or not.” It is up to TDM to consider if it will become the battlefield for production companies or not.

In even grander music award ceremonies in foreign countries, when musicians win awards, not only do they come under the spotlight in that particular night and become famous; they go on to engage with even better producers and step on even bigger stages—it is an important opportunity to develop their music career. Lei said with regret that, so far the Macao Music Awards can only motivate musicians by putting spotlight on them for one night, but not bringing them more concrete opportunities.

“Don’t think about going out of Macao and get discovered by Hong Kong production companies—even the Macao government is not providing performance opportunities to singers.” Lei expects TDM and the government to provide more occasions for award winners to perform on stage, thus getting the public to know them.

Adding more competitive seasons is one of the ways to boost the influence of the Awards. Local band Blademark has been participating in the Awards for many years. They think that the three-month’s selection time is not enough for the public to listen to all 60 entry songs. Competitions organised twice every year may be of better help to musicians.

Many participating singers and bands treat the occasion as merely an opportunity for “master blows” and cross-industry cooperation. This kind of ordinary and enterprising atmosphere has made many musicians, including Joe Lei, to cherish the Awards. But as the biggest-scale music award ceremony in Macao, it has bounden duty to give a helping hand to the Macao music industry, which is stumbling its way forward.