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COVID-19 leads to new entertainment habits

1. Gautam Talwar, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Spotify. — Photo Courtesy Spotify

Life has been changing since the COVID-19 outbreak, with many people forming new habits or ways of thinking, working, and even listening to music. Việt Nam News reporter Thu Ngân talks with Gautam Talwar, managing director, Southeast Asia, Spotify, about changes in the entertainment industry and the new habits of its listeners.   

Inner Sanctum: Spotify recently announced that stars from Wizarding World and beyond will join the Harry Potter At Home initiative. Can you tell us more about the project? What was the inspiration behind this?

We are thrilled to have the Harry Potter audio readings available exclusively on Spotify for both free and premium users. Fans can expect to hear from some of the biggest stars from the Wizarding World including Daniel Radcliffe, David Beckham and more, reading the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone. With its themes of family, friendship, courage, and overcoming adversity, the hope is for this new slate of readings to bring further comfort and entertainment to children, families, and carers confined to homes everywhere.

This is part of the Harry Potter At Home project which is an initiative developed by Wizarding World Digital and JK Rowling’s agent The Blair Partnership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This aims to encourage reading and learning for students in virtual classrooms.

Inner Sanctum: Many countries continue to be under social distancing regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an entertainment platform, has Spotify seen changes in people’s streaming habits during this period, and if so, what are they?

As people around the world have increasingly moved indoors over the past few months, we have seen music and podcast listening changes in a variety of ways.

During this period, we have seen more streaming across devices like computer desktops, TVs, smart speakers, and gaming consoles. We’re seeing interesting patterns; speaking of gaming, users are also combining music with a popular family-friendly, at-home escape that might ring a bell: Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons video game. As reflected on Spotify, Animal Crossing-themed playlists are up 1,000 per cent.

We have also noticed that the songs Spotify listeners are adding to their playlists are more “chill” — meaning they are more acoustic, less danceable, and have lower energy than songs previously added. Plus, the music tends to be more instrumental, featuring instruments rather than vocals. Other changes in listeners’ habits include increased interest in news and self-improvement podcasts like wellness, meditation, and other topics.

2. COVID-19 leads to new entertainment habits. — Photo Courtesy Spotify

As many schools and workplaces have closed around the world, we have seen an increase in the streaming of Kids and Family content, particularly to help kids sleep. In fact, with more than 1,000 per cent increase in home-school themed playlists, it is clear that many are turning to music to get through the day. 

Work-from-home themed playlists have also seen a massive 1,400 per cent increase on Spotify as compared to the first 10 days of March (appropriately, with the most-added track being Work From Home by Fifth Harmony).

Listeners have also taken spring cleaning to the next level. Spotify’s Cleaning Kit playlist has seen a 30 per cent increase in streaming; while overall streams have increased by more than 65 per cent. Users are mopping to songs made for dancing, including Uptown Funk  by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, Roar by Katy Perry, and Work by Drake and Rihanna. In fact, there are now more than 940,000 cleaning playlists on Spotify today.

We have also seen a 50 per cent increase in hair-themed playlists on the platform. These users are taking matters of their hair into their own hands. Speaking to the seemingly impossible task, popular songs on these playlists include Complicated by Avril Lavigne, High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco and Hair Cutter by Animal Collective.

Inner Sanctum: What are the advantages of these new habits?

Based on the trends, listeners are taking time for themselves and making health and wellness a top priority. More people have been listening to podcasts in the Health and Fitness and Lifestyle and Health categories over this period, with users also streaming more podcasts with the words “cooking” or “recipes” in the title or description. When it comes to playlists, users have been creating and following more workout playlists, while streams for running, yoga, nature sounds, and meditation playlists are also up.

People have also been finding meaningful ways to keep busy which include at-home hobbies like baking, crafts, and home improvement. Globally, we have seen colouring-themed playlists increase by about 40 per cent, and painting playlists more than 90 per cent. Plus, gardening playlists have grown 430 per cent (with songs like Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett, Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, and Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee). Baking playlists have also risen by 120 per cent. Listeners are especially going bananas (no pun intended) for banana bread, with 2,750 Spotify playlists dedicated to the sweet treat.

Hobby podcasts are also having a moment. Listeners are tuning into podcasts like Just Wanna Quilt, with streams up more than 125 per cent, while WeCrochet has seen streams increase more than 60 per cent.

Inner Sanctum: What can people do to get inspired, stay positive and adapt to the “new normal”?

We believe that audio has the power to connect and unite people even when they are apart. Whether you are streaming bolero, pop or indie, chances are you are not the only one.

As we are living through these uniquely challenging times, our hope is that our playlists will allow listeners to forge a common bond with people who are also using audio to stay connected and offer a little respite, motivation and inspiration.

Here are just a few examples of playlists that music fans in Việt Nam can enjoy as they get about their day — Morning Commute as they head to work, Đốt Cháy Mỡ Thừa as they are working out, or Êm Đềm as they relax/chill at home. All these playlists are available to all Spotify Free and Premium users in Việt Nam.

Inner Sanctum: The fight against COVID-19 will be with us for a long time. What are your company’s plans for audiences and artists in the coming time?

Spotify has always been focused on creating connections between artists and their fans, using music and podcasts to help break down barriers and build stronger communities.

In Việt Nam, we have recently enlisted the support of local artists to take over some of Spotify’s top Moods and Moments playlists in the market and share the music that is “soundtracking” their days.

Some of the artists involved in this initiative include Vũ Cát Tường, Nguyên Hà, Juun Đăng Dũng, and more. Through these playlists, Spotify looks to amplify connections between artists and their fans, bringing them closer together through a shared love of music. The playlist takeovers will happen weekly, giving music fans refreshed content to accompany their days.

Whether in good times or challenging ones, we believe in the limitless power of audio and we hope that these playlists will allow listeners to forge a common bond with people who are also using audio to stay connected. VNS



Defender Van Hau leaves SC Heerenveen for V.League 1 side

Defender Doan Van Hau is due to return to Vietnam to compete in the second half of the V.League 1 2020 season following the expiry of his loan contract with Dutch team SC Heerenveen, announced his club Hanoi FC on July 10.

defender van hau leaves sc heerenveen for v.league 1 side hinh 0

Although Van Hau’s loan contract expired on June 30, he was able to continue training with the Dutch team, with Hanoi FC offering to help pay Van Hau’s salary to stay at SC Heerenveen, providing they prove they want to keep the leading Vietnamese player.

Despite the Dutch side’s intentions, the impact of the novel coronavirus has caused a headache for SC Heerenveen, and the team had also bid farewell to eight other footballers.

Following a period of protracted negotiations, Hanoi FC were unable to reach an agreement with the Dutch side. The V.League 1 champions therefore announced their decision to recall Van Hau in order for him to play in the second half of the V.League 1 season, and the national team defender is set to arrive in a few days.

The return of Van Hau marks a joyous moment for Hanoi FC, as many of their football players are suffering from injuries. His return also provides another option for the Vietnamese men’s national football team when they compete in the ASEAN Football Federation Cup 2020 and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2021.VOV


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Veteran musician opens book cafe

Hundreds of books are displayed at Thư Viện Cafe Thứ Bảy Trẻ (Youth Library-Saturday Cafe), a reading room cafe in HCM City launched by veteran musician and music teacher Dương Thụ. — Photo courtesy of Thư Viện Cafe Thứ Bảy Trẻ

HCM CITY — Veteran musician and music teacher Dương Thụ has launched a “reading room” cafe to attract young people in HCM City.

The venue, called Thư Viện Cafe Thứ Bảy Trẻ (Youth Library-Saturday Cafe), has hundreds of titles of rare and best-selling books about literature, culture, history, science and politics.    

Highlighted books include those by famous Vietnamese authors and scholars in the 1930s such as Phạm Quỳnh, Phan Khôi, Đào Duy Anh and Vũ Bằng.

Most of the books were donated by cultural researchers, historians, scientists and mathematicians, including maths professor Ngô Bảo Châu and Dr. Nguyễn Xuân Sanh, a maths expert.   

Thư Viện Cafe Thứ Bảy Trẻ has computers to help readers access the internet.

According to Thụ, the venue is free to people of any age or background. “Reading good books helps young people improve their knowledge and discover the world,” said the 77-year-old Thụ

Thụ, who began his music career in 1982, has composed more than 100 songs in pop and contemporary folk music. Many of his works were top hits and performed by music stars. 

He has worked as a music lecturer at several universities and colleges in Hà Nội and HCM City.   

Thư Viện Cafe Thứ Bảy Trẻ is part of a cultural programme titled Cà Phê Thứ Bảy (Café Saturday) launched by Thụ and his partners in 2009. The programme introduces Vietnamese culture and music to young people.

It offers seminars and forums in fine art, literature, painting, photography, film and theatre. The events are hosted by well-known cultural researchers, musicians, writers and artists. 

Screenings of Vietnamese and famous foreign films are also included.   

Thụ received the Culture and Education prize presented by Phan Châu Trinh Culture Foundation in 2018.

The annual Phan Châu Trinh Awards, launched in 2008 by Phan Châu Trinh Culture Foundation, honours individuals and groups for their contributions to Vietnamese culture, translation, research and Vietnamese studies.

The awards also honour the national hero, poet and cultural expert Phan Châu Trinh of Quảng Nam Province, who fought in the resistance movement against the French.

Thư Viện Cafe Thứ Bảy Trẻ is open from 7am to 10pm every day at 38 Võ Văn Tần Street in District 3. — VNS


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HCMC Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera presents concert of songs from popular films

Vocalists and musicians of the HCM City and the HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will perform at a concert featuring music from popular movies at the Opera House on July 11 and 12.

HCMC Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera presents concert of songs from popular films
Soprano Pham Khanh Ngoc will perform in a concert featuring songs from popular movies at the Opera House on July 11 and 12. — Photo courtesy of HBSO 

The concert will open with music from the films The Magnificent Seven, Gladiator, and The Dark Knight Rises.

The highlight will be the Harry Potter Symphony Suite composed by John Williams.

Williams has won five Oscars, four Golden Globes, seven British Academy Film Awards and 22 Grammy Awards for his compositions. He was the first film score composer to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 2016.

The music will be performed by the HBSO orchestra.

The HBSO chorus will sing Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World from the animated film Finding Dory, and Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King. 

Soprano Pham Khanh Ngoc will continue the night with a song from La Califfa (Lady Caliph), a 1970 French-Italian co-production directed by Alberto Bevilacqua. The song was written by Italian composer Ennio Morricone.

Baritone Dao Mac will sing Freddie Mercury’s Don’t Stop Me Now from the film Shaun of the Dead, and Always Remember Us This Way from the musical drama A Star Is Born.

Pop singers Vo Ha Tram and Ho Trung Dung will perform Shallow, which won the Best Original Song at the Oscars 2019.

Tram will have a solo performance of Into the Unknown from the animated movie Frozen II, while Dung will sing The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha.

Violinist Tang Thanh Nam and cellist Nguyen Tan Anh will perform John Williams’ Chairman’s Waltz from Memoirs of a Geisha.

Conductor Tran Nhat Minh, who has a Master of Music in Conducting at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, will lead the concert.

The concert will begin at 8pm at the Opera House at 7 Lam Son Square in District 1. Tickets are available at the venue’s box office and at  VNS


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