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Bringing Local Music into Our Daily Commute

Speech by Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, at Launch of Hear65’s ‘I Play SG Music’ Campaign with SMRT


  1. A very good morning to Mr Seah Moon Ming, Chairman of SMRT. Under his leadership, he has always been marshalling the SMRT team to do good, do well and do right.
  2. We have our wonderful heroes and heroines, the SMRT staff and ambassadors. They have worked hard, especially during the circuit breaker and COVID period, to keep us safe
  3. All this is possible because of Mr Seah Moon Ming’s leadership, as well as Mr Ngien Hoon Ping, Group CEO of SMRT’s execution and pulling together the team.
  4. We also have with us our LTA colleagues, who I would like to thank as well.
  5. And a big thank you to Clarence Chan, Founder of Bandwagon Asia. Today, he has shown his passion for Hear65. It is something that the National Arts Council (NAC) and MCCY has been working with him over the years, persevering and pushing the boundaries. Let’s give it up for Clarence and his team from Bandwagon Asia!
  6. I also want to thank all the friends in the music industry. Our artists, singers, composers, writers, all the various talents, and music labels.
  7. Allow me just to say a few words to thank the key partners. This is a momentous occasion, and it is important for me to be part of this very historic moment.
  8. Today, we are witnessing the launch of the “I Play SG Music” campaign with SMRT, and the MOU signing between National Arts Council (NAC) and SMRT Trains Ltd.
  9. And music is one of the most powerful mediums of the arts. While the arts have many mediums, the one that connects us, regardless of whether we are musically inclined, or have that artistic talent, is music. It not only speaks to our heart, but also can move and bring people together.
  10. This is synergistic with what SMRT and LTA are doing. Thus, it is only right that today we are witnessing the marriage and partnership between SMRT, LTA and NAC, together with Hear65, to launch the “I Play SG Music” campaign with SMRT.
  11. Millions of people take the trains and buses every day. You can see as we walk to the bus stops and MRT stations that most commuters are listening to music. And this is why this is a very powerful partnership.
  12. Hear65 is initiated by the NAC and produced by music media company Bandwagon. Hear65 is a very important national movement that celebrates and promotes all forms of Singaporean music. It also aims to raise and grow awareness and appreciation of local music and our homegrown talent.
  13. Introducing Homegrown SG Music to Our Daily Commute

  14. Every day, 3 million people from all walks of life commute using public transport.
  15. So, today’s launch of Hear65’s “I Play SG Music” will bring the music of Singapore homegrown artists into our daily commute. This is really an exceptional effort to deliver Singapore music into the ears of Singaporeans, for a start, the next 365 days.
  16. This year, the “I Play SG Music” campaign with SMRT, under the leadership of Mr Seah Moon Ming and Mr Ngien Hoon Ping, will transform the SMRT public transport system into a very dynamic stage to showcase our homegrown talent and enable them to reach new audiences. As I have mentioned, 3 million people commuters will get to enjoy our brand of local music as they go about their lives, on their way to school, on their way to work, on their way to catch up with friends and family, and on their way home. Music artists such as Marian and YAØ, just to name a few, will be broadcast across SMRT’s 125 MRT, LRT stations and bus interchanges.
  17. This is really significant. With 2 million [people taking SMRT trains every day], during a 45-minute ride, you will probably get to hear at least 9 artists. And assuming out of the 3 million commuters who enjoy the music, only 1% streams it, that is 20,000. Multiplied by 365 days a year, it will make 7.35 million streams. This will allow us to punch above our weight. Once again, Kudos to SMRT, and let us this as a platform to showcase our homegrown talent.
  18. And by filling public transport spaces with our homegrown melodies, we are also enhancing the commute of Singaporeans and widening the awareness of SG music at the same time. I think we are all craving for Singapore music, and that is why Hear65 was started. And it has done a wonderful job to curate a long list of songs and melodies by our homegrown talent. And now, this will allow Singaporeans to learn more about homegrown talent and support them.
  19. “I Play SG Music” campaign by SMRT has been a journey 2 years in the making, involving real world stakeholders, such as Clarence and his team, local artists, music labels and performing rights organisations. On behalf of MCCY and NAC, we want to say a big thank you for this collaboration, and for seeing through the successful launch of this moment.
  20. Enlivening Our Daily Spaces

  21. Besides partnering in music, NAC and SMRT’s MOU signing will see the two partners collaborating in two initiatives in addition to “I Play Sg Music”, to celebrate the diversity of our artistic talent and liven up our public transport spaces through the arts. The two initiatives are:
    1. One, the train commuters will have the chance to read snippets of local poets and their works. Listening to music is very therapeutic, it inspires and soothes our soul. Listening to music, and reading poems is also very therapeutic, and this is why we want to do that.
    2. NAC and SMRT, together with ART:DIS, will pilot a new programme for buskers with disabilities to showcase their talent at MRT stations across Singapore. This is really meaningful.
  22. These collective efforts will complement the drive by NAC and SMRT to bring the arts closer to Singaporeans.
  23. Marian you mentioned earlier that you were a busker, and we want to commend you for that courage. Because of you and your pioneering spirit, now we have more Singaporeans, young, and not so young but still young at heart, taking to the streets at different parts of Singapore, including in my community club [in Hillview]. We want buskers to feel that ownership, and to be embraced - not just in Orchard Road, but also everywhere in Singapore, including the heartlands. And today you have shown them that that is just the starting point, and you can take to the world stage like you did at Times Square.
  24. I want to thank Moon Ming and Hoon Ping, for having gone the extra mile, not just to move people and connect commuters from point A to point B, but to use this space that Clarence, YAØ and Marian have always dreamed of performing in, to really liven it up.
  25. In June last year, SMRT train worked with the members of the local arts community to roll out Comic Connect. This is interesting because it is a heritage themed comic style mural which are installed in 35 MRT stations. SMRT are allowing this precious real estate to be used to profile, and providing that platform to showcase our homegrown talent. Some of these murals are at Serangoon, Buona Vista, Bishan, and Paya Lebar MRT stations on the Circle Line. So again, we want to thank you for not just supporting our music artists, but also our visual artists.
  26. Just last month, SMRT brought pianos into selected MRT stations as part of their Music in Community initiative. This is really impressive, because this gives the public and the commuters a chance to play their favourite tunes on the piano if they are courageous enough, and express their musical talent and passion. If check it out, some of these impromptu performances by members of the public, some very young, have gone viral on social media. This is another form of busking. I think most of the people who are musically inclined would love to have some form of a stage, so that can be a way for them to try it out. And under SMRT’s Music in Community programme, this effort aims to connect communities and enhance the commuters’ journey.
  27. This is really a win-win, because as the commuter walks from home under the sheltered walkway to the MRT stations, most of the time, we can just expect a silent walk as they will listen to their music. Now we hope that they will unplug and just listen to Singapore music that is being played at the station, or just enjoy an impromptu piano performance by fellow Singaporeans. I think this is how we can delight commuters as they go to work and go to school.
  28. And to bring arts closer to Singaporeans, we also have the NAC’s Public Art Trust, which provides funding and resources to bring arts into spaces where we live, work and play, as well as offer more opportunities for Singaporeans to enjoy art together.
  29. To our music labels, to all our artists, I would like to assure you that initiatives such as Hear65’s “I Play Music Campaign”, is an example of how we in MCCY and NAC are committed to continue supporting you and our local artists, and creating innovative platforms for their growth.
  30. Our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027)

  31. They are also part of our broader vision, to transform Singapore into a distinctive city with accessible spaces for people to enjoy the arts wherever they are in their daily commute.
  32. Next week, we will be launching our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027), which maps out our plans for the sector in the next five years. We will give greater focus on how the arts shape Singapore as a Distinctive City, a Connected Society, and a Creative Economy.
  33. Conclusion

  34. In closing, I want to represent my colleagues in MCCY and NAC, to express our heartfelt appreciate and gratitude to Moon Ming, Hoon Ping, and all his team, as well as LTA, and Clarence and his team at Bandwagon Asia, for working so hard to make this possible. And also our talents and management in the music labels, who came together to launch today’s “I Play SG Music” campaign with SMRT. And to bring arts into our daily travel.
  35. Now just imagine, as I mentioned earlier, the streaming numbers potential, for us to help to launch our local talent into the global stage. You can imagine how out of the 2 million commuters, there will be a lot of students and young people who are musically inclined and talented like Marian and YAØ. And because they heard YAØ or Marian, they will take their dreams to the next stage, and try busking, or just to play the piano that is displayed in the various MRT stations. It will give them a boost, and also the courage to take the next step. And maybe send something to the music labels to be considered, so that someone will give them the chance to take the step forward, to compose, to write or to sing a song. Similar to how for the first time in 2018, Marian took up busking, and in the short span of a few years, she was performing in Times Square.
  36. Anything is possible, because of the platform that SMRT gave. Thank you.
Last updated on 14 September 2023