Name : Ni Ni Khin Zaw
Career : Singer/Performing Artist
MI: Please tell our readers about yourself.
In 2008, I became the Best of Melody World personality presented by the Zomia Media based in Yangon. After that I have started my career as a vocalist in early 2009. Until now, I have been working as a performing artist and am doing well.
MI: Describe your average working day…
My day usually starts at around 7 am when I wake up, and I am ready to go out nearly an hour later… Sometimes when I travel local- ly and overseas for the shows, I need to get up around 4am. If it is a local trip, I go to the performing places by flight, perform for the people and usually come back in the eve- ning or at night. Some days, I need to go to thestudio for recording my albums. I also go for appointments with trainers or coaches to advise clients on performance matters such as training techniques or performance pre- sentations. Sometimes I need to meet and talk to the media from morning to evening. Days are quite different and rather busy as I don’t have a manager yet and have to ar- range everything myself.
MI: As you are running a pretty tight schedule, why don’t you try to have a manager?
I don’t have any plan to have one as of now because it is still more comfortable for me to handle things by myself.
So I’m the manager, producer and music producer, discuss with songwriters and have to do everything by myself. Most vocalists in Myanmar have to do those things and do not have managers. So I just want to say artists in here face loads of struggles compared to western countries.
MI: How do you choose the songs for your shows?
Most of my songs are pop tunes. Usually I choose those songs of mine that are already well known among the audience. It also de- pends on the type of show I am performing and the age of the audiences. Most of the melodies are simple, hummable songs that stay lodged in the mind for days.
MI: What is the most challenging part of your job?
I think the most challenging part is trying to get recognition by the audiences. Some- times there are challenges for us like the memorial music show of a very famous leg- endry vocalist recently held in Yangon. We had to face lots of comments of the audience after the show and got stressed before the show because it is not easy to perform at the scale standard as he did and we are not sure that the audiences will love it. Another one is making our albums, because almost all CDs and DVDs by the vocalists and artists are being pirated in here. We barely get any benefit from the albums. These are the cur- rent challenges for the artists in Myanmar for now.
MI: When did you decide to become a vocalist and what have been changed after you became a famous perform- ing artist?
The main reason is because I am happy to be a singer. Everything feels right when I am singing and performing. I like dress- ing up and staying pretty. That’s all. I am not an outgoing and very social person like many other celebrities. I’ve always tried to stay close to the way I lived or wanted to live before all this happened to me. I don’t believe that having success means needing to change your lifestyle in a big way. That would seem too strange for me. I’m pleased as long as I’m performing and supported by fans.
MI: What is more important to you: being recognized by the people or be- ing a sold out vocalist?
For me, audiences are most important I think. Of course as an artist, we need our al- bums to be sold out for the financing sector but I do prefer going for tours and perfor- mance shows.
But sometimes, touring can be exhausting too. Most of the time I’m so tired afterwards that I just go back to my hotel room and or- der room service. Once in a while if I have friends that I haven’t seen in a while I’ll go out to dinner and we’ll have fun. So for me the most important thin I want is the accep- tance and recognition of my audiences.
MI: What is your biggest moment in your career so far?
Until now, my biggest moment as a vocal- ist, I had to take responsibility as the lead vocalist of Myanmar in 27th SEAgames held in Nay Pyi Daw last year. I was really shak- ing and excited with happiness on the stage at that moment. As a citizen of Myanmar, it was a privilege and honour for me having a chance to perform at such a great event rep- resenting the country.
MI: What opportunities do you see in Myanmar music industry?
For now, I don’t see many opportunities. But if we can get essential support from the international music industry giants, there will be a lot of opportunities for local and international people. The most important things are policy amendments, government supports and the exploring the potential of the people.
In South Korea , the Government is quite promoting music and filming industries be- cause they are the main income sources of the country. They are now successful world- wide. So why can’t we do like them?
MI: What are the main sources of in- come for Myanmar music industry?
We, performing artists including studios, producers and organizers cannot earn large amount of income from the Music Albums. So for this moment, the main income for the industry is from the tours and shows.
MI: What are the challenges that the industry is facing?
The biggest challenge is pirated CDs/DVDs, lack of finance, skills and technology. For- eign investments are coming in since 3 years but they still don’t think the Myanmar mu- sic industry as a space to invest. We are very much behind in terms of performing skills, music production technologies and invest- ment in equipment. We need our market to expant internationally and became bigger. We are struggling so hard with all our effort without getting much support technically and financially because we still cannot com- municate with international industries.
MI: If there’s one policy that you can get the government to change to help develop the music industry, what would it be?
I think most important thing to do from the government side is implementation of law enforcement agencies to join movie indus- try for protecting and punishment of pirat- ing DVDs and CDs. The government needs to launch a new anti-privacy warning law or agenda which will really be effective. We really hope the Government will organize an investigative team for the case for support- ing and giving guidance while encouraging FDIs to invest in the music industry.
If we can get financial and technical support from foreign countries, our income will in- crease and there will be so much progress in other related fields too. I believe that we can aim for our Asian neighbouring countries even if not the rest of the world yet.
MI: If international partners / inves- tors want to participate in the local movie industry, where would be the best place to start?
To cooperate with the producers from Myan- mar is the best place to start I think. They are the people who organize the albums, shows and tours for performing artists. We are also happy to work together with foreign music producing companies which will sup- port us in everything else through contracts.
MI: Based on your experience, what are the critical success factors to be- come a successful singer/vocalist in Myanmar?
The fundamental need is the tone and voice. The person needs to be talented, do ac- tions following words, keep promises and appointments, be fashionable and must be social. One’s cannot be a successful vocalist just relying on the voice. The person doesn’t need to be pretty but will have to be good looking. I think these are the critical success factors to be a successful performing artist in Myanmar.
MI: What is the current structure of Myanmar music industry?
The current structure of the industry is hard to explain. The performers, artists, songwriters, producers and studio owners are scattered and not being organized well. Everyone is doing on their own with their contacts.
MI: Who are the main players offer- ing digital aggregation service?
The studios. But still there are weakness as due to the lack of equipment and technol- ogy.
MI: How do you think the industry can get connected with big aggregators such as itunes, Sony, Warner music, etc?
That will make us get more benefits. But in here, even the online payment system is not working well. So I think infrastructural amendment is important in this case. We can do nothing without efforts from govern- ment.
MI: What is the status of copyrights disputes that the industry is facing with FM stations?
It’s a complicated issue for now. Most of the vocalists and songwriters had to let those FM stations use the songs and creations because of the weakness of the law in Myanmar.
I hope that it will clear itself out after the IP- (intellectual property )law is established in the future. Still a long way to go!
MI: Which one will you choose for you long-term future plan, doctor or per- forming artist?
I’m very happy as a vocalist as of now. But I do have plans for the future too. I still want to study more for my medical profession and get more degrees.
MI: What would be your advice for as- piring young people who want to en- ter music industry in Myanmar?
You’re going to face challenges coming in various shapes. So be talented! Be creative! Be prepared![/paypal]