Capital: Singapore
Population: 5.3 million

In 2014, International Music Summit sought to expand the electronic music conversation to the quickly manifesting region of Asia. Though the continent had plenty of metropolitan cities to choose from, Singapore became an obvious choice due to its unique physical location and thriving interest in its own electronic music scene.

Singapore is uniquely placed at the southernmost tip of Asia and is in close proximity to some of the largest Asia-Pacific countries in the world like India, China, Japan, Korea and Australia. Because of its physical positioning, Singapore serves as the ultimate melting pot of cultures and the perfect bridge between the Eastern and Western worlds.

Singapore has a long history with nightlife culture. The city’s own Zouk is considered one of the world’s leading club brands and its opening dates back to 1991. Though for many years, Singapore focused heavily on nightlife apart from music, the scene has begun to change as electronic music infiltrates popular music. Additionally, this piqued interest has begun to show results for major festival brands in the region like ZoukOut, an extension of the Zouk club brand, as well as the newly introduced Road to Ultra in Singapore.

Major Music Festivals:

ZoukOut
Road to Ultra Singapore
Shipsomnia
It’s the Ship

Major Nightclubs:

Zouk
Bang Bang
Suite 26
Kyo

Singaporean Talents:

Myrne
Rave Republic

Major Issues and Limitations:

Though the government is accepting of electronic music, venues and festivals must comply with strict regulations.
Zero tolerance policy for drugs – but less of an issue in Singapore.
Establishing music credibility in nightlife culture rather than money and table service-centric culture.

Though Singapore is considerably well-rounded in electronic music – both in festival brands, outstanding nightlife and even some local talent – there are still several challenges the region will face as the industry continues to grow. Unlike other countries, Singaporean authorities are highly receptive to the developing industry and drugs and drug policy have not been a major issue in the country. Instead, the biggest limitation Singapore faces is properly cultivating an electronic music scene that values the music over the flashy, table service-centric culture that has been a prominent characteristic of Singaporean nightlife. In addition, since Singaporeans favor international talent rather than local, it faces some challenges in better developing a stronger appreciation and market for local DJs and artists.  On a positive note, the government provides a number of grants to financially support artists to launch and promote their albums which in turn helps the label as well.

Thankfully, Singapore has shown great promise to develop its own outstanding electronic music culture. Major clubs like Zouk have begun to shift their focus to the music rather than only on entertainment and underground venues like Kilo Lounge and Kyo retain a less commercial side of the music. International festival brands like Ultra have noticed the immense potential in Singapore, and ZoukOut continues to pioneer the Asian-Pacific region as a leader in the festival space.

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Capital: Tokyo
Population: 126 million

Japan is often described as a world of its own. Both eccentric and electrifying, Japanese culture is a leader in food, fashion and of course, music. Known for sushi, Harajuku and out-of-this-world fashion statements, Japan is a standout hub of the arts in Asia. The country’s bustling attitude has helped the population to embrace a rapidly expanding presence of electronic music amongst Japan’s many other cultural outlets.

Japan has always maintained a more Westernized mindset than many other nearby Asian countries. Though highly distinct from any Western culture, this mentality has allowed Japan to be a step ahead of many of its surrounding territories in terms of music. Early on, big music festivals that focused on rock and later on, electronic music, began to grow. Summer Sonic Festival began in 2000 and later created an expansion known as Sonicmania that showcased electronic music in specific. In 2014, Ultra Music Festival expanded to Japan and has continued to return each year to an enthusiastic crowd.

Major Music Festivals:

Ultra Music Festival Japan (2014 – present)
Sonicmania (2011 – present)
The Labyrinth Festival (2002 – present)

Major Nightclubs:

WOMB
ageHA

Japanese Talents:

Ken Ishii
DJ Krush

Legal concerns:

Until 2014, dancing was actually banned in unauthorized areas (fueiho)
Strict closing times and regulations for night clubs

In tandem to its progressive festival brands, Japan also is home to several internationally known nightclubs like WOMB and ageHA. Though authorities in Japan were notoriously known to maintain a strict policy over night clubs – including one rule that was only recently abolished that stated that dancing was banned in unauthorized areas – the culture seems to be relatively accepting of electronic music and the culture that surrounds it.

International DJs like Armin van Buuren and Kaskade have large fan-bases in Japan, but much of Japanese youth culture is preoccupied with J-Pop (Japanese pop music) and K-Pop (Korean pop music). These musical crazes have enormous and loyal followings, which has stalled the explosive climb of electronic music that much of the Western world has experienced.

However, plenty of the population are showing an interest in the music, so there is absolutely a promising future for Japanese electronic music. This includes local talents like Ken Ishii and DJ Krush along with Japan-based labels like Ultra Japan and EDMF. As Japan continues to nourish its own individual electronic culture, the audience for festival and nightlife culture will also expand.

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