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Singapore Radio Station Lush 99.5 Faces The Numbers Game

Fans of the local music scene would have noticed their favourite artists contributing to a flash flood of posts all across social media yesterday, all tagged with the hashtag #iListenToLush.

#ilistentolush   A photo posted by iNCH (@thisisinch) on

At face value, all the posts about the radio station almost felt like a huge (and famous) circle of friends coming together to comfort one “Lush”, who was probably facing a nasty breakup.

But what exactly is #iListenToLush? It turns out that indie/local music station Lush 99.5 is facing some heat regarding their listener numbers, which, apparently, have been underperforming. The station is now at risk of “having its license up for review”, which is really corporate speak for “we’re pulling the plug”.

Popspoken understands that the broadcast licensing is controlled by the Media Development Authority (MDA), and Lush 99.5 has to justify occupying the frequency. This may be difficult considering the low numbers from the latest Nielsen survey.

Family. The Short Version: I love you and thank you.

The Long Version: So @lush995fm will never win the numbers game. Our purpose from the start has always been to service a market that’s always felt left out of the mass media landscape. Furthermore, we’re qualified to do this because we’ve always felt left out ourselves. We may not be perfect at our jobs, but we appreciate the trust that’s been put in us by all of you in a world where you have infinitely more options on the Internet.

#IListenToLush started because we need to show the powers that be that our Nielsen numbers* of 38,000 per week isn’t quite accurate (even though to me, as somewhat who’s pretty new at this, this figure is fucking awesome because we’re a niche station by default). However, what we’ve realised is that beyond the numbers, we have passionate, intelligent, discerning fans who have enthusiastically come to our aid with so much eloquence. It’s really heartening to be able to see the faces of those we serve. It’s also heartwarming that people are even going beyond themselves to do this.

For me, this isn’t about business or profit. As cheesy as it sounds, it really is about fighting the good fight to help Singaporeans see that our creative community is world class at what they do. I’m not getting the salary that a superstar in the MediaCorp building would get, but I’d trade that cheque to be able to curate events, host musicians on my show and play new songs from my friends when people are in their cars driving home any day.

In fact, I’ve been involved in both backstage and on-stage capacities in the scene in one way or another since I was 13 years old, so it blows my fucking mind that I even get paid for this. At the end of the day, the numbers do matter, so that’s the next phase of this battle. If you listen to us, please let us know who you are. We need to let the powers that be understand our value in a way that they’d understand. And trust us, we’re working hard every day to get better at the same time.

Thank you, and I love you.

#lushloveslocal *From a physical diary survey based on a sample size of 2000 Singaporeans

A photo posted by Elias Soh (@elias_soh) on

tl;dr: Lush 99.5 radio jock Elias Oh expressed his frustrations and also gratitude in a long Instagram post that explains the #iListenToLush movement. A survey conducted by Nielsen placed listener numbers at around 38,000 a week, low enough to be a cause for concern. Lush DJs rallied the very local acts that they have been supporting for years to launch a flurry of activity on social media, in an effort to prove the approximate figure wrong. #LushLovesLocal, but do the locals love Lush? A quick look at the Twitter landscape paints a pretty picture of Lush’s future as the MediaCorp radio station that’s been the most vocal about local music. Here’s what the listeners have to say:

So keep the #supportlocal spirit alive by making some noise! Cheer on Lush 99.5FM as Singapore enters her next phase of growth. Only then can we hope for a confident, self-sustaining model of artistic maturity.


Tweet: #iListenToLush because... @Lush995fm

Click on this massive blue bird and tell the world why #iListenToLush! 


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