Chris Reed
Feb 11, 2014

Rock and jazz thrive in a content zombieland

I don’t miss many things about living in London (certainly not the weather and the underground) but I do sometimes miss the culture. Having the choice of seeing one of a dozen concerts with top class entertainers every night, top class comedians in places from clubs to concert venues and top class theatre from comedy to drama every night is something to be admired.

Rock and jazz thrive in a content zombieland

Singapore would love to be able to offer such a wide range of content for its residents but it really is a desert of decent live content, comedy and drama. Whereas in London I would become complacent about the live entertainment I saw because of the choice in Singapore I buy anything and everything that moves so rare do decent concerts occur.

I see acts here I would never see in London and am pleasantly surprised when they surpass my expectations (Journey and Matchbox 20 to name but two recent experiences). So when it was announced that Singapore was to have their first Rock Festival I was first on line to buy up the tickets. This was swiftly followed by the Singapore International Jazz Festival announcement and suddenly it felt like I was not living in a complete cultural dessert.

Being a rock fan I can appreciate how the Rock Festival is capturing the imagination of rock fans across the island. The promoters have been very clever with the branding and themed it around The Dawn of the Dead and The Walking Dead. As they have Rob Zombie on the bill it’s very applicable.

They have carried it forwards to incorporate all of the creative and all artists. They are even going to be selling specially themed t-shirts which stand out from the usual festival t-shirts you get as these events with extra zombie elements for people to wear for months afterwards.

The Jazz Festival takes a more sophisticated, conservative creative approach. Ironically the same colours are used (black and red) but with the elegance of a saxophonist and Marina Bay Sands in place of The Walking Dead.

The one thing missing from both events is sponsors. Neither show is sponsored and nor likely to be. One of the challenges that concerts and festivals have in Singapore is the lead time. Both of these events only had two months to sell tickets. This makes it very hard to attract a sponsor as the promoters really have to have all confirmation details lined up for a good 3-6 months beforehand if not longer if they are to have anything other than the usual media partners involved.

Free advertising space for tickets and venue branding is what the Jazz Festival have gained from The Straits Times Life section and tickets must be slow moving because they have been given massive exposure in the paper. Although Emirate and Stella Artois are official partners they looks more like logistics partners than sponsors.

There appear to be no blue chip sponsor and with a premium Jazz audience you would have thought they would have been able to sell such a proposition to a financial services or high end jewellery/watch brand or high car brand but it appears not. This in a country with not only more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world but the highest GDP per capita anywhere in the world.

For the Rock Festival this is a harder sell all round as the creative and young rock audience will attract a certain type of edgier sponsor. What The Rock Festival does have that the Jazz festival does not is a media platform of engaged concert going fans on facebook.

There are only 3,500 facebook likes for the Jazz Festival whereas the promoter for the Rock Festival, LAMC, have over half a million likes on their facebook page, albeit that is their general concert/company page. Nevertheless if you want to target concert fans there are few better ways of doing so by combining social media, live events and real content to engage and share.

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