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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Social media develops Khmer interests in music and arts

Social media develops Khmer interests in music and arts

“It is a very good thing that I met you. From the moment I saw you, I fell in love...”  So goes the pop song “Water Bee”, which has recently been gaining traction online, particularly on Facebook.

Cambodians are increasingly using social media networks to form their taste in music and arts. Some are even using these channels to broadcast their own music.

Siv Sokhoeun, director of Sound Studio Ken Center, said, “Now, the number of Cambodian people interested in playing music is increasing. Most of them love to play guitar and piano. In the past, only 1 per cent of the population was interested in learning music.”

Sok Chanphal, a song writer at Hang Meas Production, said, “Even if you have a nice piece, but no companies or productions to air and promote your work, there is simply no way to get exposure. So Facebook and Youtube are your best bets.”

While in the past artists had to go through more traditional channels, like production studios or TV, social media is increasingly filling these roles, serving as a hub for everything from production to publicity campaigns.

Social media have created a number of benefits for young artists and musicians. Chanphal noted that when a video gets numerous “likes” and supportive comments, it allows the composer to take heed of what’s working – and what’s not.

“If they have talent, they will be noticed by companies and production firms. They will be hired as a singer or music composer,” he said.

Music shared on social media is so widely viewed, artists are also less likely to plagiarize foreign sounds and concepts, Chanphal added.

Kim Sophakchivapisey, a 17-year-old student at BakTouk High School, said, “The first time that I found some music videos on Facebook such as ‘Thank you and Sorry’, I thought that it was copied work. I was surprised that it was an original song composed by a young Cambodian.”

The singer and the composer of “Water Bee” and “Thank you and Sorry” is 17-year-old Mong Manith, known as Manith Jupiter on Facebook and Youtube.

“Most songs that I post are my original work,” he said, adding that he composes his music on a computer, mixing the melodies and recorded sounds together.

Yun Chan Daravuth, 20, loves to compose music to post on Youtube. “At first, I just bought a cheap microphone and recorded a song with my guitar and then posted everything on Youtube and Facebook, which was appreciated by my friends and a few singers,” he said.

Social media networks are helping many young artists gain traction  – so much so that they often gain more views than traditional Khmer music videos.

“I love composing music by myself because I can express my feelings. I believe that spending some time after school on music is better than spending time indulging in destructive behaviors,” Daravuth said.

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