December 21, 2011
In the United States, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is just bad music. In Vietnam, songs like this have a name – “disaster music,” or tham hoa am nhac. And I’m told it’s even worse – crazy-looking singers, like Asians with blonde mohawks, belting out nonsense lyrics and dancing.
Yet somehow this music is a big hit, says Nhan The Luan, cofounder and CEO of music streaming site NhacCuaTui (“MyMusic”). Users on NhacCuaTui can upload disaster music – and, hopefully, other genres – for others to listen to. About 85% of the content comes from artists submitting their own work, but the rest is from users uploading songs and videos by their favorite singers.
Luan says this user-generated model is popular in Vietnam, although many sites don’t pay for international and domestic licenses like NhacCuaTui does. Many sites also copy NhacCuaTui’s features, so he tries to focus on a top-notch user experience.
NCT, NhacCuaTui’s parent company, also pays a team to help artists make music videos. Now available on iPhone, Android, and WebTV apps, NhacCuaTui started life as a personal website where Luan shared music with friends. But they wanted to post their music, too, and in 2008 he launched a company with one cofounder.
Now, NhacCuaTui is vying to be Vietnam’s top music site and striving to gain loyalty in a fragmented music market. Luan says that most listeners use search engines to find music, rather than returning to a single site. As in the United States, the traditional music industry is wanin, as record labels and physical CDs decline and artists offer music for free to get exposure.
NCT’s Vietnamese-language site may be hard to navigate for US users, but if you’re interested in some “disaster music,” check it out here.
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