Quoc Trung, one of the most-respected music producers in Vietnam. Photo from Trung’s Facebook
“The gaps in talent, ability, professionalism, production and operation process [are the reasons why Vietnamese artists failed to approach foreign markets],” he told VnExpress Tuesday.
“Only a few Vietnamese singers possess the ability to write and sing their songs in English as well.”
He said there was a “lack of musical uniqueness and influence” present among Vietnamese artists.
“I once attended a music festival in England. Many artists performed in an eccentric way and their music was even hard to listen to,” he said.
“Still, the audiences gave them respect and applause, while industry insiders and the authorities gave them opportunities to improve instead of discouraging them.”
Trung compared the domestic music industry to that of South Korea.
“The K-pop industry spread its popularity in the region a long time ago, yet only until recently were their artists and music able to reach American audiences,” he said.
“That achievement didn’t come solely from the efforts of one particular artist, but from the whole system.”
He believes that the success of K-pop in reaching audiences in the biggest music market in the world came from the government’s policies that encouraged developments in the musical industry, financial support of conglomerates, and thorough market research.
When asked about what he thought of several Vietnamese songs becoming popular on international online platforms, including YouTube and TikTok, the musician suggested that domestic artists and audiences should soberly assess the situation and not overrate such achievements.
“I think this phenomenon could serve as the first step to promote Vietnamese music,” he said. “However, the impacts brought by this are not particularly large yet.”
He explained that conglomerate-owned online platforms like TikTok use algorithms to suggest content to users based on their watching habits, preferences, and places of living. This contributed in making songs easily acquire many views, without necessarily saying much about the quality of the music.
As the founder of the Monsoon Music Festival, which will return this October after a three-year pandemic break, Trung is aiming to bridge the gaps between the domestic music industry and the international market.
“Monsoon is not a business product nor a brand endorsing event. It’s an opportunity for young artists to introduce themselves to the public,” he said.
His purpose behind the event is based on his observation of Vietnamese listening habits. The public audience in Vietnam often chooses popular mainstream artists instead of new young names, which discourages innovation in music and affects the industry long term.
“I struggle organizing Monsoon financially, but I gain many other things in return,” he said.
Trung, 57, one of the top figures in Vietnam’s music industry, has been active as a songwriter, sound arranger, record producer, event director, and TV personality for many years, and has collaborated with many international artists.