Many economies in Asia have identified the cultural and creative sector (CCIs) as a high potential strategic sector. As of 2015, CCIs generated an estimated US$2,250 billion in revenues, supported almost 30m jobs and employed approximately 1% of the world's active population. The visual arts sector employs the most people (6.73 million), followed by the music industry (3.98 million) and the publishing industry (3.67 million). In general, the CCIs also tend to create more jobs for the youth than other sectors.
The pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation of arts and culture to meet the massive demand for cultural and creative goods and services. In Cambodia, internet usage is growing; as of January 2021, there were 12 million active social media users in Cambodia alone, which increased by 2.3 million (+24%) between 2020 and 2021.
CCIs are structured uniquely in comparison to other sectors. For example, many businesses rely on a network of freelancers and micro-firms which provide creative content, goods and services. These freelancers typically operate informally and are characterised by non-standard, precarious forms of work. Moreover, these workers need to earn a living, build their networks, and invest in their skills to ensure the future viability of their business.
Specifically, digital skills are needed to support all aspects of today's musicians, both online and offline music. In addition, the music industry needs to recruit and retain an adaptable workforce in an increasingly digital market.
In partnership with DAI through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Digital Asia Accelerator program, The Sound Initiative developed Music 4.0, a course designed to help artists and producers improve their digital skills in music production and the business aspects of their careers.
Many cambodians have adapted quickly to the digital aspects of daily life and work in recent years. For example, today's music industry relies heavily on digital platforms and software. From recording directly into DAW (Digital Audio Workstations) such as Ableton Live 11 to the distribution of songs through digital distributors, listeners can listen to songs easily through streaming platforms.
As the creative industry builds, every artist, performer or producer strives to improve their skills and knowledge. However, one challenge for artists in Cambodia is the lack of resources and easily accessible training materials in Khmer. Music 4.0 aims to bridge these gaps for artists and help them succeed. The Music 4.0 curriculum covers a range of topics from skills in music production to the importance of copyright from a creator’s perspective.
Music 4.0 features:
68 lessons in total, 4 module/chapters - Song 4.0, Content 4.0, Release 4.0 and Business 4.0
Over 50+ tutorials videos on song productions, content and digital distribution
Masterclasses clips of industry experts with topics ranging from songwriting, music production, commercial projects tips, marketing and music video production.
10 Downloadable templates and tools - helpful resources for music-preneurs and
Interactive quizzes in each module
If this is news to you, don't worry, you can enroll and learn here, everything is sponsored by the American people.
Six artists and producers supported and tested the curriculum for this m-learning platform.
These artists paired up and covered four modules during the course, created new music, designed social media content to release it, and developed plans to build their freelance music careers.
We caught up with the graduate's to hear their progress since finishing Music 4.0 - here are some of their stories.
Ravuth is a classical music composition major. Toward the end of the programme, Ravuth co-founded a music school alongside his seniors. Ravuth highlighted that some of the entrepreneurial skills he learnt in Music 4.0 helped him build his music school which now has forty students. He also started building up his performance portfolio.
“What I’ve learnt, firstly, is to prepare to be an artist/musician and what skills and knowledge that you have to learn. Being an artist is not just being available to be needed, but to be able to manage and improve your own music career, find your own opportunities and make your own market/marketing. TSI taught me a lot. ”
As for his digital presence, and his social media, he shared, “I post a lot more on my personal social media account about my activities, and my gigs, leading to other people to see what I can do and they hire me directly.”
We also observed positive changes in his income regarding his music career.
“Before Music 4.0, I had next to nothing in terms of music-related work, compared to now I’m extremely busy, not including teaching music, my career didn’t exist before. I have new activities, new experiences and a new source of income so it is better than before.”
Ravuth and his partner for the course Sai, have gone on to start their own band, the November band.
Architecture graduate and music producer, Mengy is pursuing a career as a music producer full time. Mengy shared that after the program, he found his communication with clients has improved.
As the co-producer of a commercial song, Taste of Cool, Mengy was able to witness and apply a step by step process for now approaching and managing his own clients.
Mora is a producer, also shares about her job in media productions and what she has learnt and achieved from Music 4.0. She found a workspace that allows her to hone her skills, provide an income and gain experience in the creative industry. While she is busy with her job during the weekday, she also accepts freelance work on the side.
Mora learnt skills that could support her to also manage her client-based creative side work.
“I used to only charge when the final products are done, but I have learnt from my mistakes. Now I charge my clients based on the milestones I have set up.”
Before joining the program, Sai already owned her media company. Sai has gone through significant transformational changes in her life. She loved music passionately as a hobby before joining Music 4.0. Now that she has officially started her career, she considers herself a performing artist.
“When I release the song [made during Music 4.0 course] that I have worked on in TSI, I got more recognition and people start to book me to events and gigs”
She describes the significant changes after joining the program. After having gone through music production lessons, she expressed more confidence in releasing her song to the public and expressing herself through her craft. She went on to continue working with her partner during the course, Ravuth and formed a band with another friend of theirs called The November.
“I saw a lot of improvement in my songwriting and knowing the preparation in the music production before I didn't really know what to do… my first gig was actually with Ravuth. Now we started a band together with a friend, called The November. It is a small success and people offer us jobs.”
She explains that having and maintaining social media accounts is essential to keep your audience engaged and informed. Through her social media, she also gained recognition and offers to perform.
Regarding the music 4.0 online course, Kokchhay Lao mentioned that “Music 4.0 on EdApp is cool. Whenever I want to know more about a topic, I can watch Slomo teach on the app. I think it’s great for people who want to learn, of course, they can search on YouTube but Khmer lessons are better.”
After the student graduation event, the TSI team adapted the offline course into an online course. TSI as a team learned many new skills, such as video production, design, editing and post-production skills.
Music 4.0 was published in November, and in that first week, we received 80+ users signed up; now, we currently have over 150 users and growing! We are so grateful to the people who signed up and showed their appreciation for the course.
TSI aims to build up Music 4.0 as a blended learning programme for youth throughout the country, please contact us if any private, public institutions or development organisations are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about this course and any other future programme from The Sound Initiative, please reach out to us on our social media and consider signing up for our newsletter.