Taylor Swift $500M Singapore Economy Boost, Barbell Entertainment Blockbusters vs. Long Tail & City Talent Vortex & Industry Concentrations with Shiyan Koh - E395

· Podcast Episodes English,VC and Angels,Creators,Women


“The internet gives people the opportunity to build global audiences earlier than before. It doesn't really matter where you are if you have the internet. Singaporeans do speak English, which is a global language, so they could access a bigger market. What you say though, about talent density is a real thing, which is like, let's say you're very promising, but you're not really surrounded by other promising people. It's hard to hone your craft. And that might require you to move elsewhere.” - Shiyan Koh

“In Singapore, I think we can foster early talent, but they tend to go to other cities that have the hubs. Robin Williams was a talented guy and comedian and everyone in SF knew that he was really good, but his career only took off in Los Angeles because Los Angeles had the talent scouts and the people who were willing to give him those contracts very quickly. So I just think it's hard to beat these centers of vortexes of talent gravity.” - Jeremy Au

“The truth of the matter is that there’s a strong dynamic and we see that a lot in TikTok Shop and a lot of the Chinese live streaming, where all the models are being employed effectively by agencies because it's way easier to centralize production, lighting, editing, direction fulfillment. And then you just have people 20 or 30 talents on the cost. Taylor Swift is the opposite of that. She’s super social in the sense that if I saw it anywhere, I would know who she is, which is a bonkers thing to say because of the internet.” - Jeremy Au

Shiyan Koh, Managing Partner of Hustle Fund, and Jeremy Au talked about three main themes:

1. Taylor Swift $500M Singapore Economy Boost: Jeremy and Shiyan discussed the Singapore government’s strategic chess moves for Taylor Swift's concert exclusivity in Southeast Asia. They discussed the excellent return on investment of the $3M move for a $500M increase in Singapore’s tourism receipts, stimulating national GDP by 0.25% points for Q1 2024. They also discussed the regional competition for hosting such blockbuster events, along with the underappreciated aspects of the nationalization of the Singapore sports hub, travel logistics hub infrastructure and sensitivity to cultural norms.

2. Barbell Entertainment Blockbusters vs. Long Tail: Jeremy and Shiyan explored the Internet’s explosion of the content industry, leading to bimodal distribution, where both blockbuster events and niche content find substantial audiences thanks to the zero marginal cost of digital consumption - and the plunge in middle-tier content. They also discussed how generative AI will impact the shape of this barbell. They reference the book Blockbusters by Harvard professor Anita Elberse and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

3. City Talent Vortex & Industry Concentrations: Jeremy and Shiyan discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by talent concentrations. They discussed how cities become industry hubs, such as finance in Singapore, entertainment in LA and tech in SF, with a thought experiment on whether Southeast Asia could produce a global superstar like Taylor Swift. They stressed the structural and cultural factors that influence where talent flourishes, the role of national policy in nurturing ecosystems that can compete on the global stage, and how individual talented individuals should react.

Jeremy and Shiyan also talked about the social aspects of fasting vs. eating, the fan communities of avatar-driven Vtubers, and their personal preferences for content consumption like Dune by writer Frank Herbet vs. director Denis Villeneuve.

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(01:35) Jeremy Au:

Hey, Shiyan how's life?

(01:37) Shiyan Koh:

Life is pretty good, Jeremy. How about yourself?

(01:39) Jeremy Au:

Still chugging along. We were just discussing about my fasting experience and it's been quite a ride to be honest. So learning a lot about myself.

(01:46) Shiyan Koh:

I know, every time I eat something delicious, I think about you. I'm like, should I text him? No, that seems mean.

(01:53) Jeremy Au:

I was walking home today and I was like standing outside a bread shop and he was talking about his 12-year approach to making longan bread recipe, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, totally absorbed in reading this poster. So I was like, okay, you know what? I am pretty food-conscious right now. So, yeah, I'm glad you didn't send me photos. They would be torturous for sure.

(02:15) Shiyan Koh:

Well, yeah, every time I eat something delicious, I'm like, I don't know how he does it. It seems, it's such a social experience eating, like separate from sustenance. Just like being around other people eating. And you know, I've done a bunch of stuff on nutrition myself in the last year and a half. And so I do feel like I, I think about what I'm eating more than I did in the past.

(02:35) Jeremy Au:


(02:35) Shiyan Koh:

But if I had to just eat nothing for 10 days, I think I would find that pretty hard.

(02:40) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, it is pretty hard. And I think the social part is the hardest part, to be honest. So I think weekdays, if you're working, you know, everyone's like, yeah, we're going for coffee or tea, walks. Like nobody's going to know that you didn't have a lunch with them. But I think on the weekends when your kids are, whatever, or your, your friend's birthday party. Oh, I was watching Dune the movie and everyone's eating popcorn. And the guy on my left was like, you know, slowly tearing apart that ketchup packet to put it on his hot dog. And I was like, eyeballing him hard because I was like, I need this movie to start ASAP because I definitely like, I don't know, 20, 30 seconds from like grabbing the hot dog and like stuffing it in my mouth, because, you know, anyway, that's the cheap stuff. I want, I want a lot of carbs. I'll be honest. The shocking, I don't want to be, if I don't want to stay, I don't want to, whatever I want to, I want a hotdog.

(03:21) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, your body is, your body wants to survive, right? That's just, it wants the thing that's easiest to break down and process. And it's, know, sugar.

(03:30) Jeremy Au:

Give me that honey, Walnut bread. Give me that longan syrup. Don't know what recipe. Oh my gosh. I was looking at that stuff. So hot. Anyway. Oh

(03:37) Shiyan Koh:

We, a long time ago, we did this competition at my startup where we all were on a juice fast.

(03:43) Jeremy Au:

Ooh. Yeah. How's that?

(03:45) Shiyan Koh:

So like you could only drink the juices that were delivered

(03:49) Jeremy Au:


(03:49) Shiyan Koh:

And, of course, given the character of the people involved, not only was there the actual fasting competition but there was a separate betting market on the outcome of the fasting competition, which then led to active sabotage orders for people's bets to win out.

(04:06) Jeremy Au:


(04:06) Shiyan Koh:

And basically, one of our founders had it set up that if he won, The competition, he would win a bunch of money. If he lost and the person he bet on one, he would still win a lot of money.

(04:17) Jeremy Au:

That's a nice way of doing it. Yeah, that's a, those are some financial instruments in play now.

(04:22) Shiyan Koh:

But yeah, like basically people would order food to the office to try to sabotage specific candidates, you know, like freshly baked cookies in front of someone or that this one guy, he had a weakness for pasta. So it was like, I think the fourth day and they sent like this full pasta meal and just laid it out at his desk.

(04:38) Jeremy Au:


(04:39) Shiyan Koh:

And he was just like, I'm sorry, I'm so hungry. So good.

(04:44) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And I think it's a fair point. I mean, you know, the truth of the matter is that, the only foods that we're really addicted to these days are like carbohydrates. Nobody is like, oh, I'm addicted to broccoli, or I'm addicted to a steak or chicken. Right. It's like, you know, you can't eat that much steak or chicken anyway. And I think when it comes to like all the cakes and tarts and breads, you know, that to me is like, ding, ding, ding.

(05:02) Shiyan Koh:

Okay. Sorry. We don't mean to torture you. We can stop talking about food.

(05:05) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. Well, we wanted to talk about Taylor Swift since we both ended up turning up at the same concerts. I mean, we were not in the same night. So we got to see Taylor Swift. So we want to talk about all things Taylor Swift. We want to talk about experience. We want to talk about economics.

We want to talk about that Thailand regional rivalry for the business of Taylor Swift and, wherever that takes us, I guess. So yeah, she had, well, how was the experience at Taylor Swift? Hmm.

(05:27) Shiyan Koh:

I went on the first night. It was, I would say I am not a diehard Swifty, but I went with my daughter and my mom. And my niece and I were mostly there to just see the spectacle right of fandom. And I was not disappointed with the amount of effort that people put into the costumes, the bracelets, the signs.

It was awesome to see and everyone around us. I feel like we were probably like me and my mom were probably on the older end of the audience while, you know, the kids were on the younger in the audience, but I would say like the bulk of people, I don't know, it was what, maybe 12 to 28 maybe would be where I would eyeball the audience.

And they knew all the words. They knew not just the words, but they also knew a bunch of the hand movement. So even as Taylor Swift is performing on stage, I had a whole row of girls in front of us who were sort of like performing in tandem. And so, yeah, I was just really impressed. Right. Like, I mean, growing up in Singapore in the eighties, we did not have a lot of concerts. And I don't think I was as aware of music at that age. And maybe that's like, you know, it's like when you said, Oh, we walked uphill in the snow both ways or whatever, but like we didn't have that many channels. It was before the internet. And so you just didn't have that kind of global fandom. And right in the stadium, it wasn't just local Singaporeans. People had flown in from all over. I just had a meeting today with a Chinese investor who'd flown. I was like, Hey, what are you doing in town? She's like, Oh, I'm here for the Taylor Swift concert.

(06:50) Jeremy Au:

Priorities. Priority number one, Taylor Swift. Priority number two: meeting with Shiyan.

(06:55) Shiyan Koh:

But, but yeah, I was really impressed by the fandom. I was really impressed by her ability to perform so many songs with no break and with a high amount of energetic enthusiasm and just the marketing genius of it. Right. I don't know. Did she say this during our concert? She's like, who here is your first time here? You know, then some people raise their shout who here, you know, you've seen me in concert before and then everyone else. Right. And she's like, new friends, old friends. I love you all. You know, just this sort of like, you know, and then the storytelling and the chatting with the audience and everything, I just thought it was all really well done.

(07:29) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. You know, I think it was almost like down to a science, right? Because when I was there, I had the same, I think I'm definitely less of a Swiftie than you if on a spectrum of that, but my wife was one of those folks who was really into it as well. She knew all the songs and the lyrics and she was like standing up and waving. And so it was kind of interesting because it's like, yeah, you know, to be honest, I didn't know my wife was that much of a fan actually, to be honest.

(07:52) Shiyan Koh:

How long have you been married?

(07:53) Jeremy Au:

It's a work in progress. I mean, I would know, like, she likes Rihanna. I know all these other stuff. I know what food she likes to eat, but I guess, you know, it's like, she wears airpods and listens to something. I'm not like super paying attention here, for that side, right? It's a private listening experience. But I think it was interesting because I actually went with her to other concerts. So we went to the Ed Sheeran concert, which happened about, you know, one to two weeks before. We're going to the Jack Johnson concert, which is definitely my thing.

And she's definitely not into that thing. So we're trading turns here. So you've seen a lot of concerts actually during this timeframe. And I think my observation of the entire concept was, I think, first of all, as someone who didn't really know the music, obviously, I heard the music at various clubs or bars, whatever it is. She is a musician, right? I mean, she does know how to sing. She knows how to perform, you know, she's kind of like what they call like a triple threat or whatever that threat is, you know, in terms of like being able to do all those things. And I, you know, I just, I was watching the whole thing and I was like, I was exhausted by the entire whole concert and I wasn't even the one singing and dancing and moving and choreographing and changing costumes.

So I think kudos to her. I think it was a very well-produced show. I mean, it's definitely different from Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran is like a single person singing pretty much 90 percent of the time, versus Taylor Swift being a whole ensemble, but you can really see the work, the set design I think the lights, the music the fireworks. Yeah, and I think the second thing that jumped out at me, I agree with you, is like the fans. I mean, I was surprised that the row of girls behind me didn't like topple over from hyperventilation, right? You know, she's just like at the top, and is singing. And, you know, what's interesting is that the cameras were out the entire time, so the recording or live streaming, the whole thing, maybe all three or four of them, I would say, out of the four of them, for example, So it's kind of interesting phenomenon because, you know, it reminded me like this is one of the concerts where everybody's on their phones as well. Everybody's recording and they knew all the song lyrics and they're hyperventilating and screaming. And I was like, wow, this is a new, I mean, can you imagine? I mean, I remember when I was a kid, my dad brought me to watch the Eagles and it was like a bunch of old folks with the guitars and playing acoustic, you know, and it was beautiful, I loved it. I mean, Hotel California, it was great, but none of us were on our phones back then, none of us were like videoing in and screaming and, you know, massively singing along, so it's a very different concert experience, I'll say.

(09:55) Shiyan Koh:

You weren't a teenage girl.

(09:57) Jeremy Au:

I wasn't a teenage girl. Yeah. And you know, I was actually quite moved. I mean, some of the songs I felt like, you know, I needed something to do with like, you know, the mass group fever plus great music. And so I didn't know the songs, but I was like, I could feel myself being moved. I was like, yeah, you know, champagne problems. Like, I don't know the song, but I feel it. I feel champagne problems too, you know,

(10:14) Shiyan Koh:

Well, yeah, I think, I don't know, I think teenagehood is a unique period in someone's life, right? Where kind of ripe for these obsessive, fan relationships with idol figures. And in fact, I think Job has an article about that this week in this week's edition of the magazine that kind of explores it in pretty amusing detail. But I think it's something that the internet has supercharged, right? I was at a conference last year in Manila called Conquest, where they had all of these VTubers. And someone who has literally spent zero minutes thinking about VTubers, it was mind-boggling to me to see people go nuts, like thousands of thousands of people go nuts for a persona, not even a person, but

(10:56) Jeremy Au:

Define VTuber for those who don't know what a VTuber is, because many people know what a YouTuber is. I know what a VTuber is, but please explain.

(11:02) Shiyan Koh:

Well, some people have a presence on YouTube, but not like themselves. As a character, people have parasocial relationships with that character. And so, even when they're in this conference, they're not there as like, Jeremy, right? They're there as their VTuber persona.

(11:20) Jeremy Au:

Right. Did you get to see the real faces or were they just like, they're still hiding and they're on screen as the VTuber. Oh, wow. That's interesting.

(11:27) Shiyan Koh:

So, yeah, so that's what I'm saying, like, these sorts of things, and, you know, the whole, all the trappings, right? The, merch like meeting other fans who are enthusiastic about the same thing and having small groups get together to go support all of this stuff. It was just fascinating. And, the fervor, I think was the other thing.

(11:44) Jeremy Au:


(11:45) Shiyan Koh:

It's I mean, I'm not a music person, right? So maybe like for me, the analog is a sports team, right? You can be like a super big sports fan. You follow the games and you obviously, yeah, you have no relationship to the outcome, but you feel deeply about it. So it's sort of like, I think akin to that, but it's interesting to me what the internet has been able to do to really supercharge these audiences and relationships,

(12:05) Jeremy Au:

And I think there's a whole economy behind it, right? So, you know, I'll talk about it two ways, but yeah, I think for VTubers, I think the benefit of it is that, you know, you're not tied to an individual employee, you know, so a lot of the VTubers, they're being managed by agencies, obviously, because it takes time to build the models and so forth.

Obviously, they're individual VTubers, but many agencies, You know, the truth of the matter is like, you know, if I hire, you know, Shiyan and Jeremy as individual personalities, the truth is any of us can hive off and become our own brand. And I think we saw that with the New York Times, a lot of them moved to Substack, right? You know, you see that for a lot of tech journalism, they create their own Patreon pages. So, you know, BuzzFeed, I think, is a good example. They were trying to build a lot of individual personalities and they all created their own subchannels. So one of the interesting things about Vtubing actually is that I mean beyond the benefits of like anonymity and you can take turns and you know, you don't have to look good and wear makeup or whatever it is to look good on the screen.

The truth of the matter is that, it's actually a really strong dynamic and we see that a lot actually as well in like TikTok shop and A lot of the Chinese live streaming, you know, just like all the models are being employed effectively by agencies because it's way easier to centralize production, lighting, editing, direction fulfillment and then you just have people 20, you know, or 30 talents on the cost.

So it's a kind of interesting dynamic and then Taylor Swift is the opposite of that. I mean, she's like super social, right.? In the sense that, you know, like, I feel like, yeah, if I saw it anywhere, I would know who she is. Right. Which is a bonkers thing to say because of the internet. And I think the truth of the matter, I was like looking at the people around and I was like, in our generation, well, you know, not to date myself here, but it's like, you know, Britney Spears, for example, was somebody that you could only listen to if you're on the radio or on TV specifically. And then eventually I think the MP3 player came up and then a lot of us were pirating, software. Not of course myself, LimeWire, but not myself. Kazar and Napster. And that's how like, you know, Britney Spears became famous because it's like everybody's downloaded that tracks, and I think that's your first global star, like Britney Spears. But I know this is interesting that everybody knew who Taylor Swift was. It's a kind of a bonkers superstar phenomenon.

(13:59) Shiyan Koh:

It was amazing. It was amazing. And just like, as a business person, you know, that she could take her tour, monetize that, turn it into a movie, monetize that.

(14:07) Jeremy Au:

You know, the-

(14:08) Shiyan Koh:

The merch!

(14:09) Jeremy Au:

The crazy part is that my wife watched a movie and then went to the concert and I was like, this is the same thing, but it turns out that there's a lot of people who are doing the same thing. They're like, they saw the movie and they're like, you know what? This movie's so good. I'm going to watch the concert as well, which is, you know, like, I don't know. It's kind of an interesting phenomenon because you're like.

(14:27) Shiyan Koh:

She's a genius! She's a genius! She took the same, she took the same thing, she took a product and she like, made multiple SKUs. Like, that's, it's, but it was crazy to me, like, I got this email that said, Oh, if you want to buy merch, you have to like to get an appointment. You have to book a time slot to buy merch. And I'm like, huh? My mind was blown.

(14:47) Jeremy Au:

It's like a scarcity, rarity effect in there, right?

(14:49) Shiyan Koh:

I mean, it's, it's totally bonkers. But so impressive. So impressive.

(14:54) Jeremy Au:

And what was really impressive was of course, the fact that, like you said, there were so many people who were for the first time, but also people who are from Singapore and people from our town. And it caused that very dramatic you know, where my friends, even from the US were like, Hey, this Thai prime minister really doesn't like Singapore signing an exclusivity agreement with Taylor Swift. What's going on here? I mean, obviously, you know, It's everybody in the world wants to talk about Taylor Swift. So that's how I think Singapore came up, but I think it's an interesting piece where I think the final number came out that, you know, Singapore paid about, you know, three to 4 million for an exclusivity agreement. So that Taylor Swift would only perform concerts within Southeast Asia in Singapore. So I think that excludes North Asia or South Asia.

(15:31) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. She was in Tokyo. Right.

(15:33) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And so I thought it was really interesting because, the interesting part was like, there was a very dynamic piece about, you know, what is ROI? I mean, the competition of tourism is a very big problem or challenge for a lot of economies in Southeast Asia. So here are some quick numbers that we had here that, you know, based on the estimation was that Singapore bringing Taylor Swift and Coldplay is expected to bring in about 0.25% points to the GDP for the first quarter. So each Swift goer was spending about $1,400 in the broader economy. And the total spending by the 300,000 concert goers was about, $415 million and so the total tourism receipts are about 350 million to 500 million. So out of that, the 75 million was direct ticket sales. And yeah, so 75, and then Taylor Swift made about $11 million just from the six concerts. So it was really quite interesting to see some of these numbers economically.

(16:24) Shiyan Koh:

Is that right? I would have expected her to make more money than that.

(16:27) Jeremy Au:

I'm just using it, I'm quoting this from Nomura, Maybank, Trip. com, and Straits Times. So, but yeah, I mean, I did some basic math as well. I mean, you know, that's about, each concert was about 60,000 people. So times six, that's 360,000 folks. Then the question is, what's the average ticket size price? So yeah, it will be interesting to see how that turns out, but it's definitely in the millions of dollars range.

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(16:44) Shiyan Koh:

No, no, no. 11 million is retained within the Singapore economy. 85% goes to Swift. That's why I was like, if it's 75 million of ticket sales, she gets the bulk of that. So

(16:53) Jeremy Au:

So she gets about an 80 mil for her. Yeah. That sounds about right to me. Yeah.

(16:56) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. Yeah.

(16:57) Jeremy Au:

That's good. So, yeah. So I think that's an interesting piece. Okay. Sorry. Let me, let me reclarify. So the total ticket sales was 75 million. And 11 out of that 11 mil goes to the Singapore economy directly. And out of that 64 million goes to Taylor Swift, which sounds about right.

(17:11) Shiyan Koh:

And that's not including her merch sales or whatever.

(17:14) Jeremy Au:

Movie sales or people buying and listing more stuff on Spotify and ad rates there. So it's really interesting. I think it's a good deal for the Singapore government, right? I mean, it's just saying that it was a three mil, exclusively the agreement. Well, Singapore has effectively almost a 10% GST value added tax. So, if 300, 000 concert goers really spent 415 mil, that means the Singapore government basically earned 40 million effectively. So it was a 10X return on exclusivity agreement.

(17:41) Shiyan Koh:

Do that deal all day long.

(17:42) Jeremy Au:

Do that deal all day long. Keep going. You know, what does the Thai PM think? Just keep going.

(17:47) Shiyan Koh:

But I mean, I think it's probably, I mean, separate from the money, I think it's probably a good deal for her in that she doesn't have to set up and take down multiple places, right? Which would add costs and effort, right? Fatigue, whatever it is, right? You just set up in one place and you perform through and you take a break in the middle of the week or whatever it is. It's like a chiller schedule.

(18:06) Jeremy Au:


(18:06) Shiyan Koh:

So, I mean, I think there were also nonfinancial benefits to the arrangement.

(18:11) Jeremy Au:

Of course. I mean, what are the others that first of all, Singapore continues to be a great hub for hospitality? It's easy to get flights. There's a tourism industry all setup. It's very safe, right? There's no crime. And I think the culture is more accepting of Taylor Swift, a single lady, you know, kind of like letting it loose, I guess, so, I think there were previous concerns. I think we had a concert, right? That was effectively canceled in Malaysia. So it's all kinds of things that can happen, right? Because there's all kinds of cultural and religious dynamics as well in Southeast Asia. Maybe the last thing I'll add is that Taylor Swift did in the last tour, try to have a concert in Thailand. But unfortunately, she did it. And then there was a military coup that happened. And then she canceled a concert, understandably afterward. So I think that's something that, was kind of left out in the news was like, if you were to organize a Taylor Swift concert, you'd be like, yeah, this is what happened last time. I mean, things can happen, right?

(18:57) Shiyan Koh:

No comment.

(18:58) Jeremy Au:

Well, you know, it is what it is. I mean, it's a fact of the record, whatever it is. But if you were to Taylor Swift organizers, there are a lot of benefits to being in Japan and Singapore, right? Because of also the home economy, GDP per capita all the various transportation links.

(19:11) Shiyan Koh:

I do feel though, that if we're gonna keep doing this like be a concert hub or whatever, we need a better stadium. The indoor stadium acoustics are mediocre at best

(19:21) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, well, on today's news, Singapore just announced that they're going to build another stadium. So, they have the Singapore outdoor stadium, which we watched it at. And then there's the Singapore indoor stadium, which has been around for 30 years. And then now they just announced that they are going to build a third stadium. And I think they haven't really decided what they're going to do with the old indoor stadium, but they want to make sure that acoustics are there. So it'd be interesting. I think what's underappreciated is that the Singapore government did take over that area. So previously, I think the area was organized by more of an independent body and now it's much more directly managed by the government.

And I think what's interesting is that I mean, there's speculation here, but my perspective is that a private entity that was government-linked just didn't price in, you know, the ripple effects, the externalities of bringing in these blockbuster acts. So very focused on management and sports, but, you know, is if you can do more, you know, global sporting events, more global entertainment events there, then I think as we saw here, there's a huge economic ripple effect and multiply effect from the tourism, domestic spending into the broad economy, which is, you know, important to keep GDP capital growth. And I don't think that's easily priced in if you're an independent body, but it's much clearer when the government is not really managing the whole region right now.

(20:25) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I have yet to go to The Sphere in Las Vegas.

(20:29) Jeremy Au:

Ooh, I want to go.

(20:30) Shiyan Koh:

The, but that looks like, I mean, that's like kind of new state-of-the-art type of facility. And, you know, I've had some friends go to, I think U2 performed there and said that like, you know, the sound is amazing and it's kind of like a crazy experience, so I guess it's good news, you know, it's an opportunity for us to build something more cutting edge and something with better acoustics at least for, for Pete's sake, if we're gonna host musical acts, I just think the acoustics are an important feature of it.

(20:52) Jeremy Au:

I mean, I think it just takes a whole team effort to do both, right? Which is like, come chicken and egg. You need to build a venue that's big enough. And then you need to have the tech team, and football effort to bring in the eggs that can actually fill it. And then you need to bring in the tourism work to attract the visitors to come in. I think a lot of work. So I think it's a really smart strategy. I think a lot of folks, I just saw like a Malaysian opposition lawmaker asked why Taylor Swift wasn't in Malaysia. So I think a lot of folks are like going through that same, every government in Southeast Asia is kind of like, okay, you know, hey, that was like 450 million of stimulus. We want some of that. Right. I mean, who doesn't want that? So it'd be interesting to see what every government is going to do.

(21:27) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, yeah. Well, the Taylor effect is real, but when, I think, the more interesting question is when do we get our own Taylor Swift, Jeremy? When are we gonna have a breakout local star who can have this global audience?

(21:39) Jeremy Au:

I hate to say this, but I just think it's hard because, is this a function of geo pathing, right? Is this like, what is your city's talent and ecosystem, which is a function of industrial policy that was so emergent?

(21:49) Shiyan Koh:

But the Koreans have done it. Oh, there are K-pop stars, who are global. Like BTS.

(21:52) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I mean, they industrialize the whole studio set up. Yeah, I think so too. I mean, they have a very Americanized point of view. They know how to ship it. And it's, I just, it takes work and I think there's entertainment industry to have a large enough domestic consumption of it. Population size as well. I just find it hard to believe personally.

I just, you know, I think I was in New York, right? And I was doing improvisational comedy classes. And I think it was just mind-blowing because so many people who were in the same class were not just like me, who are like professionals doing as a hobby is to explore as a skill, but like one-third of the class was flat out within the entertainment industry. They were working on Saturday Night Live. They were working on these comedy shows. And then one-third of them just wanted to be professional comedians, right? And so it was just like a really interesting dynamic where you have these actors and comedians and professionals.

But the thing is, there is an entire entertainment industry to absorb them, right? If you're in New York and you're a stand-up comedian and you want to be working on SNL as a producer in the interim, or be in a writer's room, it works. I think there's a conveyor belt that's there. And so I think a lot of Singapore talent that we see, I think we can foster early talent, I think, but they tend to go to other cities that have the hubs, right? They've developed JJ Lin, right? You know, he's out in the Mandopop Singaporean boy, very popular. I guess he's Ed Sheeran in Mandarin. That's what I realized. And he's not in Singapore. I mean, I mean, he started here, but the only way for his career to succeed was to be more in China and Hong Kong. So it's been interesting to see.

Another book I read was Robin Williams and Robin Williams is a talented guy and comedian. He was really good. And everyone knew in SF that he was really good, but his career only took off in Los Angeles because los Angeles had the talent scouts, the the entire, all the clubs and people willing to give him those contracts very quickly because it's Los Angeles, right? So I just think it's hard to beat these centers of vortexes of talent gravity. I don't know. What do you think? Are you more optimistic?

(23:35) Shiyan Koh:

I mean, I could argue it both ways which is that the internet gives people the opportunity to build global audiences earlier than before. And it doesn't really matter where you are, if you have the internet, Singaporeans do speak English, which is sort of like a global language. So they could access a bigger market. I do think what you say though, about talent density is a real thing, right? Which is like, let's say you're very promising, but you're not really surrounded by other promising people. It's hard to hone your craft. So separate from the sort of audience-building piece, there's like, how do you even just get better? And that might require you to move elsewhere.

(24:04) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. It's a challenge. I mean, I think we see that from Ronnie Chieng, right? A Malaysian boy grew up in Singapore as a student and then he succeeded in America because that's where he was really spotted. And they were like, yeah, we need an Asian guy to join the show and represent that point of view. And he was spotted. It's hard to beat talent vortexes. I think SF is a good example as well, sucking up a lot of entrepreneurs again, now that the pandemic is over. I don't know if you remember, but there was a time when the pandemic was there, and everyone was like, SF is dead. It's over. And now, it's like starting to spin that little vortex. And now people drifting back in, right? It's, it's hard to beat.

(24:37) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. From doom loop to boom loop.

(24:40) Jeremy Au:

I know, I know. And I mean, obviously, it's not a perfect place to live, but If I was single and I wanted to be a founder, I'd be like, yeah, go to SF, check it out, see if you like it for one, two or three years. But, you're not, you know, you're definitely not moving down into the boondocks, right?

(24:53) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. Yeah.

(24:54) Jeremy Au:

It's hard to beat. These talent vortexes are hard. And I think goes, goes a lot to the industry. And I think it's a lot of is accidental, but a lot of it also goes back to like industrial policy as well. Not easy.

(25:02) Shiyan Koh:

So what are we at Talent Vortex for, Jeremy? Who should come to Singapore?

(25:05) Jeremy Au:

Finance is a big one. I'll say. Capital Management in Southeast Asia and capital allocation like VCs, and funds. I mean, there's the rule of law. There's a strong military defense system to protect that as well. So there's stability politically. So I think there's an interesting piece where then, Singapore founders probably get a very good set of early-stage capital, right? And coaching and talent incubation to kind of like, as a lagging effect of the capital side, I would say. Education is a big one. The education vortex is a big one. I mean, people go to Singapore to study at NUS and NTU and SMU are great universities. What else do you, do you have in your mind?

(25:38) Shiyan Koh:

No, I think those are good ones. Marine, shipping.

(25:39) Jeremy Au:

I think concerts are, concerts are. Shipping, shipping, oil, and gas as well especially in the refinement of semiconductors, interestingly. I mean, historically, I think it's a bit harder versus Vietnam now. But there's still biotech, I would say the Singapore government has done a lot in biotech. Actually, talking about entertainment, I think there is obviously, the mice or conference organizing kind of concert industry as well, hospitality, I would say as well. So these are talent vortexes that you can do well.

(26:03) Shiyan Koh:

My friend is in town for an anesthesia conference.

(26:05) Jeremy Au: Wait. Oh, okay. I heard Anastasia, who was like the princess and I was like.

(26:10) Shiyan Koh:

No, no, like anesthesia.

(26:12) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, the total opposite. Yeah, there you go. Yeah. I saw a conference once, it was called the fraud conference and I was so amused by it because you saw people who hunt fraud.

(26:20) Shiyan Koh:

Is this security?

(26:22) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And he had a magazine, which was like, like the front magazine, and then the top of the top was like a fraud. And then he shows a guy's face or a girl's face as like, the person of the, I don't know, month for the publication. And I'm like, it's so funny because again, you're like, you don't read it as anti-fraud magazine, you read it as this person's a fraud. Anyway, that's my. Ah, dad joke, I guess. But it was fascinating to see a fraud conference happening. What was that? Superreturns. So it was a big one that the Singapore Venture Capital Association, worked with ADB to pull from Hong Kong for multiple years. So that was a big one as well for the capital allocators and VC funds.

(26:54) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. I think going back to your comment about what are the positive externalities of some of these events? I think it dates all the way back to F1.

(27:02) Jeremy Au:

Right. That's a big

(27:02) Shiyan Koh:

One was probably like a big one and I think F1 probably requires way more investment than Taylor Swift, right? Because you actually shut down the downtown area for the race. But then it had this sort of gravitational pull, right? Because now you have Milken and Superreturns kind of bracketing F1 and turning that kind of two-week period in Singapore into a big draw for both GPs and LPs globally, actually. And so that's, that I think is, is another sort of example of this kind of MICE.

(27:32) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I don't know. I don't even know what mice means. I just, I think there's a conference.

(27:36) Shiyan Koh:

It's like something, conventions, and, expos?

(27:39) Jeremy Au:

Tweet Shiyan angrily for not knowing MICE because I don't know MICE. Why did you tweet that out? But I think that's an interesting piece that you have here. I agree is that you know, September is totally short from now on. And that's what I realized because September is pretty much like the, the, but everybody's bracketing that. And one of the interesting schemes that I found out was that in the economic development board or the tourism side is they will actually give you grants. if you're able to prove that you're able to get people to stay longer than the time that they were at a conference. So, for example, like if your conference was three days, but if you can get people to stay an additional one or two days, you actually get grants from the Singapore government for doing so because there's a stimulus effect, people are traveling, so forth.

And what's interesting is happening is that, as a result, every event is starting to tag on in a sequence now. So there's this, September's just getting bigger and bigger, so you have F1 as a flagship, tentpole, then everybody's like, it's easy to prove, people are going to stay longer, so they, so now these events are all kind of like starting to cluster in this September time frame, which is bonkers.

(28:32) Shiyan Koh:

Oh Milken, Superreturns, those are like big ones, but then there are all these other things, I think Forbes has one there's like a music one as well, cause there's a founder I know who always comes in for the music conference so yeah, it's, it's pretty intense, that whole sort of like, Two, two and a half week period. And of course, hotels become completely absurd.

(28:52) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And I think it's interesting because, there's a lot of ripple effect, obviously, but boy, it's an exhausting timeframe. But you know, obviously, if it makes sense, right? If somebody is flying in from the US, I mean, again, for example, you're not going to make that 25-hour flight, you might as well stay for a longer period of time. So you might as well

(29:08) Shiyan Koh:

It's only 14 hours. Come on, man.

(29:10) Jeremy Au:

Okay. You do. If you do the direct flight, okay. Okay. Okay. I think there are longer flights. Well, it depends. Okay, wait, you're talking about 14 hours from SF, right? I'm talking about New York. This is the

(29:18) Shiyan Koh:

18 and a half.

(29:19) Jeremy Au:

Okay. Some people go and transit through Narita Airport and have a layover, Shiyan. But still, it's a long flight. That's a key thing

(29:28) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah, yeah.

(29:28) Jeremy Au:

And so, you might as well spend a long time and it takes you at least five days to get over the jet lag. Anyway, since it's a 12-hour, 8-hour time zone jet lag. So you might as well stay longer. And I think,

(29:37) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. It makes a ton of sense. I mean, that's why we plan camp hustle in that period because we're like, Hey, you're already going to be in town for F1. Why not pop over to Bali? Right? Like that's the thing, right? But if there was nothing and I'm like, Hey, come to Bali, people would be like, what that's like so far.

(29:52) Jeremy Au:

Exactly. And a lot of VC funds actually suddenly moved, yeah. And our general meetings into that timeframe as well, because they're like, I want to be my LPs in person. And if I do them in November, for example, well, the LPs already came by in September and they peaced out and you're like, Hey, you want to come back to Singapore again in November and everyone's like, no.

Does that mean as a bad time to fundraise, if you're a founder in September because you have VCs running around fundraising for, LPs. I'm just talking out loud here. Yeah.

(30:17) Shiyan Koh:

Probably. But also I think it's an interesting thing, right? Because on the one hand, you have an incredible concentration of people, but they're all have multiple demands on their time, right? So it can be, it's like, Hey, we're in town. And then you're like, okay, but I have these three conflicting events. I need to go to it at the same time or whatever it is. So I've seen people pursue various strategies where they like, they use it as the top of the funnel, but then they stay a week later. And then they set up on ones after once all the like parties have cleared out, or they only use it as like a touch base, but they're not really trying to get like, major substantive decisions done in that period. So yeah, I think there's a variety of strategies to approach that period of time because it is so hectic.

(30:54) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. So hectic. I was exhausted. I remember at the end of that thing, I was like, I'm extroverted out. I was just at home. Just reading a book. And my wife was like, who is this person? And I'm like, I don't I'm reading a book in bed quietly. Crazy, but I think it's interesting because all these kind of like talk a little bit about the impact of conferences and blockbuster effects and, which is, I think it's interesting because the internet has made the marginal cost of consumption of content effectively zero, right?

If you watch one movie of Taylor Swift online versus someone who watches 10 times, there are no costs, additional costs marginally. And then there's this return of the in-person blockbuster events. I don't know. It's kind of interesting to see that happening.

(31:28) Shiyan Koh:

I mean, I guess it's a marginal cost to the producer. It's not a marginal cost to the consumer.

(31:33) Jeremy Au:

Exactly. Right. Yeah.

(31:34) Shiyan Koh:

But yeah, I think we talked a little bit about this, but you kind of have the, what is it? Bimodal distribution, right? The big get bigger. So the blockbusters, their reach becomes even more vast at a lower cost, but it also allows kind of like niche, long tail things to drive because the cost of distribution has been driven down and because people can find their interests more effectively. So you are super into emo punk nerd core. I don't even know if that is a real thing, but you can find it and you can find other people like you who want to find that thing that 20 years ago.

(32:06) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I agree. I think my wife and I watched the Bill Burr movie called “Old Dads”. And super niche, right? I think it was commissioned by Netflix effectively and super niche, right? Because you could never do well in a cinema in today's age. It's not a blockbuster. Not everybody knows Bill Burr is. It makes a lot of jokes about being a dad who doesn't get modern society. And so it's a really niche thing, but, my wife enjoyed Bill Burr, like, podcast episode where he was talking about fatherhood. And so I told her, I said, I think this could be a fun movie to watch. And she and I really enjoyed it. And we would have never been able to watch it on time in a movie theater. And so we enjoyed it, but I'm pretty sure nobody else watched it. And so I think it's interesting where, as you said, the Barbell this niche content like Bill Burr, and other end is like these blockbusters like Taylor Swift, where everybody needs to either be there because it's a cultural event, or you're there because your wife or niece is there, and he's just accompanying them.

You have to be there because it's a cultural event, like the Super Bowl. And the things that are in between are just dying, right? I think your romantic comedies, which I'm a big fan of, y'all. Your niche stuff is kind of dying out as your art house films, for example, as well, they're not going to be in the theaters anymore.

(33:05) Shiyan Koh:

That's okay, they're all gonna be on Netflix or whatever other RD distribution channel there is.

(33:09) Jeremy Au:

I think A24 is doing a good job. I was watching this business analysis of the A24 model, but yeah, they take it good advantage of this long tail. Like they believe that, well, it's not really long, long tail, but they're trying to go for one step above. But as a result, they think it's underpriced, but what they do is they go for a lot more. That's actually, so it's a couple more of an index bat. So they kind of like find all these like great. House directors who haven't made it and they give them a decent check, honestly but it's actually like an index bet because, for them, they don't know which one's going to make it. So it's quite interesting.

So I think a 24 obviously brought a lot of them, really kind of like, I'll say more fresh mainstream stuff. I want to watch Civil War by A24, that's a movie about a civil war in America by him, the previous director who previously did Deus ex Machina, which was a great sci-fi movie. It did Annihilation, which had Natalie Portman, which is another great sci-fi movie. So I was like, oh, interesting that A24 was going after this segment.

(33:57) Shiyan Koh:

I didn't know you were such a movie buff, Jeremy.

(34:00) Jeremy Au:

I am not a movie buff. I am not part of the Stanford Movie Club, like my wife. I'm just more of a sci-fi. I like certain directors I would say. So I like my Alien series, Prometheus Ripley.

(34:11) Shiyan Koh:

You go to Dune?

(34:12) Jeremy Au:

I did. Oh my God. It was great. So my wife and I watched it. Another great. I mean, I love this guy, Denis Villeneuve. He did a Blade Runner 2049. Amazing. Probably the only movie I paid three times to watch that movie. Blade Runner 2049 is so good, but it was such a commercial failure because it was like people like me who enjoyed Blade Runner 2049. But then I think he learned from it and he went on to build Dune 1, which was a massive commercial success. And then doing two, which kind of honestly delivered. Did you watch Dune too?

(34:39) Shiyan Koh:

So, I'm one of these weird people where I actually generally prefer books to movies.

(34:43) Jeremy Au:

Boo. You must consume all of it. The book, the movie, and the concert, right? I don't know. They listen to a book yet, I guess.

(34:48) Shiyan Koh:

So, I actually really enjoyed the Dune books. and I think once, like with Harry Potter, I've watched some movies and read books. I've generally found that I prefer my own imagination. So I don't tend to watch movie adaptations of books. I've enjoyed,

(35:03) Jeremy Au:

Oh, that's interesting. I mean, I like watching both actually, to be honest, I used to be more purist, but now I'm just like, if I watched a movie first, I read a book. I get a deeper sense of the character. If I read a book, books first. think what's interesting is that it's really brought a large audience because when I was reading Dune, like probably you and I were kind of nerdy, not cool.

(35:20) Shiyan Koh:

Hey there.

(35:21) Jeremy Au:

Okay. I'm just describing myself. I'm not describing you, but you know, now it's a movie and I'm like, Oh, we're all cool now. We're like, Oh, and my wife is like, Oh, what's the sequel going to be? I'm like, yeah, I read the whole Dune series. I know what's going to happen after this movie. I'm not going to tell you. That's the fun part. All right. Dune. Must watch. If you haven't watched it, watch it. And watch Blade Runner 2049. It's,

(35:40) Shiyan Koh:

You can't save it, Jeremy. Stop pushing.

(35:42) Jeremy Au:

I'm trying to push the, it's like you got to buy it at Amazon Prime or something or Apple TV or something like that. It's like, it's bad because Blade Runner 2049 is just like, was just way too into the sci-fi nerd core segment, right? Oh well. Anyway. Taylor Swift plus Dune plus Blade Runner. But yeah, I think there are actually a lot, they're both similar in the sense that Taylor Swift and June were both blockbusters and were designed to be blockbusters and distributed like blockbusters. So.

(36:04) Shiyan Koh:

Yeah. So I guess, do you think generative AI leads to more long-tail content? What does it do to blockbusters? It leads to more people being able to build, you know, let's tie it back to technology.

(36:15) Jeremy Au:

I think you're a hundred percent right. I think it's going to spread out the by-model piece, which is that on the long tails, it's going to get longer because get an issue. Even your share, like, okay, let's just say supposedly I really like. To watch videos of dune sandworms attacking Singapore content. I don't know why I would say that, but let's say I want that. Well, it turns out nobody would ever made that for me unless I paid an illustrator to do that, as F1, year ago. But now generative AI can make a video for me. So I think the long tails just get even more fragmented and niche y. I think the blockbuster stuff will get bigger as well.

(36:43) Shiyan Koh:

Fanfic on steroids.

(36:45) Jeremy Au:

Oh yeah. A hundred percent fanfic on steroids. I mean, yeah, you that'd be a fun yeah, I think it's an endless never-ending storytell, right? Sorry, book.

(36:53) Shiyan Koh:

That's crazy. Awesome.

(36:54) Jeremy Au:

On that note, peace out. She, and it was nice hanging out with you again and always stay Tay Tay.

(36:59) Shiyan Koh:

Thanks, Jeremy.

(36:59) Jeremy Au:

See you. Bye.

(37:00) Shiyan Koh: