Bespoke tunes strike a cord with
A PASSION for music prompted two
friends to set up their own business, and there are already signs that it is
striking the right note with customers.
Express In Music helps musicians showcase their talent by
selling customized music to customers.
An online platform put in place early this year has enabled
it to attract musicians from all over the world and made things easier for
clients too. It has a pool of about 30,000 musicians, singers, sound engineers
and songwriters, including 2,000 to 3,999 here, a quantum leap from the meager
600 to 800 when the company got going in 2009.
The process starts when a client submits a brief online of
what he wants, and pays for the music. A contest then starts, with interested
musicians vying for the job by submitting their music. The client then makes his
The process is transparent with the price determined when the
client submits his brief. It can
cost between $750 and $3,000 to secure a piece of music, depending on factors
such as whether lyrics are needed and how soon the client wants it done.
The musicians get a cut of 60 per cent.
Clients have included Bioskin, HSR Property Group and Far
East Organization, mostly requesting commercial jingles for TV and radio.
There have also been non-commercial requests from clients,
such as songs to commemorate wedding anniversaries.
Express in Music has six staff, including two founders, and has been based at
rent-free space at Singapore Polytechnic's InnoVillage for 18 months.
Sales this year could reach $100,000, says co-founder Adriel
Chan, 26, who handles the musicians.
Mr. Jerry Chen, also 26, is in charge of bringing in the
business, including meeting clients to discuss exclusive projects that are not
done via the online platform.
He says: " I have to do offline marketing to create awareness
of the site, and focus on educating clients on the benefits of original music
rather than cover songs, that audio can help you bring sales, a better brand
recall and a better identity."
The company also has a live music arm and there are plans to
Mr. Chan says: "We are constantly looking for different
avenues to help our musicians. Another way to help is to get live performances,
so we are also doing that now…We feel that talent should not go to waste and not
While the company looks to be on song now, it was a
"super-duper painful journey", says Mr. Chen, who, like his co-founder, is a
Singapore Polytechnic graduate, though they met only during their army days.
When they started Express In Music in 2009, they realized
that many people just "don't really see the need to respect the rights of
musicians", says Mr. Chen.
"Nobody believed in original music."
He cites a potential client who, after a serious discussion,
asked: "So, per (piece of) music is $1,right?"
"We were totally stunned," he adds.
Also, they realized that clients love numbers. They want to
know what the return on an investment is, and where they can use the music. "So
we are churning out the numbers," says Mr. Chen.
For example, research shows that slow music in a high-end
restaurant helps to drive sales, he adds.
A lot of education needs to be done, as musicians
put in plenty of effort to create a piece of customized music, he notes.
"Musicians being musicians, they are passionate
about creating music, but they are not business people. So that's where my
expertise comes in. I bring in the demand, I market them, I shape them and I
brand them as the people to go to."
It was Singapore Polytechnic that linked the pair
with Spring Singapore, which gave them a $50,000 grant under the Young
Entrepreneurs Scheme for Start-ups (Yes! Start-ups) in 2009.
The duo then spent – and wasted- close to $10,000
on software while trying to get an online platform started.
" It's a lesson learnt. We were a new start-up,
we did not know that we would get cheated or that we did not get the right
people to do the job," says Mr. Chen.
A few thousand more was then spent on marketing. That was
also a failure as it got an "extremely low" amount of sales.
That was then. Mr Sim Choon Siong, Spring's director of
entrepreneurship development, says: "Express In Music was one of 40 start-ups
supported under Yes! Start-ups in 2009, when the scheme was first launched.
Twelve of them have secured subsequent private-sector investment to expand,
including Express in Music."
Mr. Chan, who is also a property agent, plays the
guitar in a local band called Supernova, while Mr. Chen is a bathroom singer. He
says: "I go for karaoke sessions so I scare only the people in the room."
Expertise in singing is not a requisite, but what
is necessary is a deep love for music, which they both share.
"If you don't like music, you can't be doing
this," adds Mr. Chen.
Also, the duo and their team are a "driven lot", says Express in Music's major
investor, Mr. Richard Quek.
Mr. Chen says that they still hold regular networking
sessions for local musicians.
"I truly believe in the business concept, and
when you look at the delight and the smiles on the musicians' faces and the
final product that can help businesses, the satisfaction is beyond description."
Source: The Straits Times (Singapore)
| The Jakarta Globe(Indonesia)