Prime Minister Hun Sen’s directive to close karaoke bars will not slow sales of karaoke videos, according to music producers, who expect a robust demand from overseas and from home karaoke users in Cambodia to make up for lost sales.
Many music video companies never saw a profit from the karaoke parlors anyway, said Sok Ly, editor for Hang Meas Video, since the parlors used copies.
Sok Ly said the directive, which was announced one week ago and put into effect on Friday, has not affected his business. He said that he is selling just as many videos this week as he did last week.
Hun Sen’s directive effectively closed hundreds of clubs across the country.
But the largest customers for Sok Ly’s company are either home karaoke users or Cambodians who now live in the US and Canada, he said. The company, which has been selling videos since 1995, often sells as many as 1,000 CDs each month.
Singers, however, said the closure order will make it more difficult for them to practice their art.
“The [directive will] reduce the crime rate, drug dealing and human trafficking, but 80 percent of karaoke parlors do not have those problems,” said Ieng Sithol, a traditional Khmer singer and performer. “The bad side of this is that many people will lose their jobs.”
But Ieng Sithol said he agrees with the government decision.
“There are so many karaoke parlors near my house, I’ve been kept awake by the sound of people singing when my family tries to sleep at night,” he said. “I would like to see them enjoy karaoke with their families without disturbing the neighbors.”
Chhum A Chhot, an actor in karaoke videos, said he is counting on home karaoke customers and the overseas market to keep his job safe. “I believe that karaoke performers and producers won’t lose their jobs,” he said.
Other actors are worried about losing acting jobs. “I’m quite worried, as performing is my rice pot,” said Tep Rindaro, a popular karaoke video performer. “My life depends on invitations to perform from karaoke producing companies.”