We pit four favorite music streaming sites against each other for affordability, mobile reliability and variety.

Deezer √√√
What: First started as Blogmusik in 2006, this high-traffic French stalwart boasts over four million premium subscribers worldwide.
Pros: It overshadows Spotify (its strongest competitor) with a bigger music library and makes managing music collections easy by letting you import your own songs—especially good for those who like their tracks all in one place.
Cons: Sound quality and free versions aren’t the best around (though they promise up to 320kb/s when you pay). As a web-based player, its interface—as on the home page, for example—is cluttered with things like recommendations and Facebook activities.
Mobile access: Available as an app on all mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Blackberry).
Price: Free (Discovery), $5.99 (Premium), $9.90 (Premium+).

Grooveshark √√√√
What: The controversial US-based streaming service launched in 2007, runs on user-generated content with over 12 million active users.
Pros: When it comes to convenience and usability, Grooveshark is hard to beat. There’s no registration, no app download required, and you can tune in anywhere on your desktop, and mobile from devices for as long as you like without paying a single cent. Ads aren’t intrusive, either (which makes upgrading rather pointless with its scant benefits).
Cons: Its free-to-upload, user-driven music database may be all-encompassing (an indie music paradise really), but problems are rife: song titles and audio quality are inconsistent, plus there are legal issues that the company grapples with every now and then due to copyright infringement (also why they’re not accepted in the App Store).
Mobile access: Available via mobile web browsers. Android and iOS apps are only available for premium account holders.
Price: Free (ad supported), US$9/month (ad free).

Spotify √√√√
What: The award-winning music service and app is the most successful of its kind, catering to over 24 million active users.
Pros: Unlike some products whose free versions are undesirable or worse, non-existent, Spotify Free’s pretty great. We’d pay for a Spotify Premium account though—it gets your music library on mobile devices and lets you download music you can listen to offline. Also, Spotify’s ecosystem is to-die-for— a host of their self-made apps makes the user interface friendlier and more interesting, plus it’s its own social media platform.
Cons: You can find obscure stuff like Japanese avant-garde electronica on here, but only karaoke versions of ‘90s pop? Weird.
Mobile access: Available as an app on iPhone, iPad, as well as Android mobile and tablet.
Price: Free, $4.99 (unlimited account), $9.99 (premium).

This is My Jam √√
What: Pick a song that’s your current “Jam”—a track you just can’t stop listening to—and post it on a customizable page. Write a couple of words for it—mention fellow Jammers and add hashtags if you wish—plus pick color combinations that convey the song best, and you’re done.
Pros: It doesn’t look like much, but sharing your emotions with what’s probably a very impressionable group of people using just one song is pretty addictive.
Cons: We’re not sure how legal this is—you can put up original songs as your Jams, but you can also paste Vimeo and YouTube links in. Plus, This is My Jam’s still quite underground, so you’re probably going to be following more strangers than friends for now. Get the This is My Jam for Spotify app to extend your reach.
Mobile access: Available via web on desktop and laptop browsers, as well as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Price: Free.


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Where to get a pampering treatment in Singapore during lunch hour. 

Pick Me Up facial with LED

This one’s perfect if you feel like you’re not going to survive the rest of the day, or if you have a dinner date. There isn’t any extraction involved—the usual double cleanse is followed by exfoliation using natural enzymes. After, the therapist will put you under an LED light that best matches your skin’s needs (red for collagen stimulation and repair, for example), before applying a gel mask, toner and moisture protector to keep your complexion safe from the weather’s harmful effects. You also get a quick head and shoulder massage while your mask is setting.

$60 for 30 minutes at Porcelain, The Face Spa.

Jet Cell Restore

If you work within the Central Business District, Jet Concepts is probably one of the easiest (and cosiest too, we might add) spots to escape to for a quick fix. As with every other treatment here, the Jet Cell Restore starts off with a couple of minutes under the Jet-M machine, which uses saline and oxygen to cleanse, detox and buff skin. The same machine then infuses a customised combination of ingredients like vitamin A and E serums for exfoliating and revitalising, or vitamin B5 for acne-prone skin. Like Porcelain’s Pick Me Up facial, this also uses LED light to target different cellular functions.

$98-180 for 45 minutes at Jet Concepts.

Sakura treatment

Need to pretty up your nails? With Vedure’s Sakura treatment, you get a luxurious soak for your hands and tootsies on top of a manicure and pedicure. It can be tweaked to occupy only your lunch hour, but promises some serious pampering for your skin using a Japanese rice sake bath that makes it smell delicious. Vedure is also known for being one of the few providers of Minx nails, boasting radically textured nail patterns worn by the likes of Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

$69 for a manicure and $80 for a pedicure at Vedure Nailspa.

St. Gregory Executive Facial

Another one that's suited as a midday pick-me-up or post-event prep is this practically instant radiance booster. It's only available at the new PARKROYAL on Pickering, which also provides the Anti-Stress Massage, a neck, shoulder and back rub that's bound to knock a significant amount of tension out of you.

Both treatments are $80 for 30 mins at St. Gregory (PARKROYAL on Pickering).

Eyes Wide Open Treat

House at Dempsey is probably one of the best integrated lifestyle spots in the city, which makes it the perfect place to go for a lunchtime pick-me-up. You can get a quick meal at Barracks, then head to Spa Esprit for this wet microdermabrasion treatment that infuses the skin around your eyes with hyaluronic acid, chamomile and aloe vera. They make for smooth skin and reduced dark eye circles, so you can come back to the office looking bright-eyed. 

$55-100 for 30 minutes at Spa Esprit (Beauty Emporium).



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The local playwright behind wildly popular play, film and novel Army Daze is back after a 14-year hiatus with a new production inspired by the Singapore tai-tai. He tells us about the changes in his life and society before the restaging of the old favorite, and the opening of High Class, in July.

Why have tai-tais become such a popular stereotype?
I guess they’re an easy target. You see more and more big designer stores popping up and read about super pricey properties being snapped up, and you quickly imagine they must all be filled with all these ladies with expensive habits.

How important is money to you?
Not as important as it was 20 years ago. I’m consciously trying to downsize and simplify my life, as well as learning to live with less. Corny as it sounds, it’s really more about spending quality time with people than about acquiring more things.

What do you think about the way Singapore is shaping up?
On the surface, it’s pretty much your typical metropolis with all the bright and shiny futuristic buildings that would look great in Monocle. But its inhabitants are likely to have mixed feelings; everything comes with a cost. For every painfully hip hotspot that opens in Little India or Tiong Bahru, another uniquely Singaporean institution closes. So you either applaud the coming-of-age or lament the passing. Not everyone will see things the same way.

What do you know now you wish you knew in your Army Daze days?
That I should’ve served NS later, when things weren’t as tough. Really, though—I did my NS in the ‘70s, and even though it was an arduous experience, I don’t think I’d want to change anything. I was wide-eyed, nervous and geeky, and probably needed the toughening up.

What would you do for the arts in Singapore if you had the power to do just about anything?
Start by building two to three more mid-sized theatres with seating capacity of about 200, 300 or 500. Considering how active the arts scene is now, I think there is a lack of proper venues. And I would give all theater groups “media credits” every year, which they can use to advertise in the dailies and on TV, because arts groups can’t afford the kind of rates that TV and newspapers command.  

You share a name with a famous Taiwanese billionaire. What would your Forbes description sound like?
“Ridiculously soft-spoken Singaporean media personality, best-known for peddling gossip rags and low-brow comedies.”

High Class is on July 5-14 while Army Daze is on July 19-28, 3pm, 5pm, 8pm at the Drama Centre Theatre.


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This season’s best-looking listening gear.

STREET by 50 on-ear headphones
$270 from DG Lifestyle
50 Cent’s latest creation through his company SMS Audio is a series of lightweight but durable, and unendingly stylish headsets. These on-ear ones come with a removable cord with a three-click mic, a soft cleaning cloth and their own hard-shell case.

Creative Sound Blaster EVO Wireless Headset
$229 from sg.store.creative.com
Being able to go wireless is great, but not when you have to compromise on sound quality. Homegrown tech hero Creative’s new baby uses the same powerful 400mm drivers as its EVO Zx, which is not yet available in Singapore.

Sony Bluetooth headset SBH20
$78 from Challenger
Handy like the iPod shuffle MP3 player, this NFC-enabled wonder clings to a rotatable clip so you can wear it many ways.


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Recommended by some of Singapore's top stars, like Intraix and RedMart. 

Don’t have any programming knowledge? Get some from this really intuitive (and free) online school.

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Required reading at the RedMart office, it really demonstrates the importance of delivering a ‘wow’ experience to your customers.

This is the first online marketplace for inventions that have been successfully funded via Kickstarter or Indiegogo—a great way to check if someone’s already monetized your “great idea”.

The Social Network
The blockbuster starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake offers entertaining insight into the makings of a billion dollar startup, which in this case is Facebook.

Run by SGEntrepreneurs writer Kristine Lauria (krissymo.com), this is an immensely useful online calendar of events in Singapore, mostly free and tech startup related.


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Singapore startups like Carousell, DropMySite and Luxola swear by these communication, monitoring and productivity tools.

Used by the teams at Dropbox, Pinterest and Uber, this virtual shared task list (available on Android, iTunes and the web) cuts down management time by allowing you to set and view assignments by project and team member.

A collaboration and management tool that’s specifically designed for coding projects.

Luxola uses the friendly Hootsuite interface to schedule posts on Facebook and Twitter, and analyze response.

The startup community’s gone way beyond Whatsapp and for good reason. Line (available on Android, iTunes and on the web) is a messaging service developed in Japan that features free voice calls and interactive stickers.


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And all the tools you need to get your foot in the door.

It's no secret that Singapore has, in the last couple of years, become something of an Asian hub for startups, thanks to a combination of a tech-savvy population, comparatively easy access to funding and a quality of life (and yes, favorable tax rates) that attracts overseas talent and investors. The Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) recently called for a major review of its initiatives and barely a week goes by now without the announcement of another big buy-out of some young upstart (you can read all about this year's acquisitions at local tech and innovation blog e27.co). But what's really going on behind the million-dollar headlines? What do the successful startups have in common? Is it hype and hot air or hard work and honest labor? And what can you learn from them if you're thinking of starting up yourself? (Aside from the need to kit your office out with ping pong tables.) We spoke to more than a dozen of the biggest names in the scene to find out.

1. Be great at more than one thing.

If you’re a multi-instrumentalist who writes songs for a living, you might be an amazing musician. And if you clock in more than 48 hours of coding a week across languages, you might be an amazing hacker. But if the goal is to found a startup, be prepared to be a jack of all trades. Advice from Derek Tan, co-founder of the fastexpanding indie film streaming platform Viddsee: “Don’t limit yourself to just being an artist or a programmer. I’m trained as an engineer, but I make films.” That said, it doesn’t matter what kind of million-dollar idea you have—having some programming knowledge is key (see video by Code.org). “I didn’t start off as a programmer; I was from business school,” says Bryan Lee, co-founder of Intraix (a nifty home energy management system). “I learnt iOS programming from my team because it’s important to have some basic programming skills so that if it comes down to it, you can create your own product easily. Outsourcing creates a lot of problems. It’s OK to know less, as long as you know some.”

2. Three's a company.

Many of the companies we spoke to at the recent startup open house event Walkabout SG, described their first few months of work as being an excruciatingly painful experience. Intraix’s Lee even went so far as to say he wouldn’t want to do it again. “It’s a very tough process. You need to find a good partner. Two minds working together is fine, but three’s better because then you always have someone there to break up an argument or keep a discussion on track,” he says. It seems this formula works across the board—some of the most talkedabout startups in Singapore today, including mobile marketplace Carousell, online grocer RedMart and TaskAmigo, a Singapore-based task and errand platform, are run in threes.

3. Disrupt the status quo.

A good idea—or several—can sustain a business. But Singapore’s game changers have rather different aspirations. DropMySite founder John Fearon—whose company is one of the biggest local startup success stories—defines startups as businesses that are trying to change the status quo, and are prepared to move fast and break things (a line also popular with Mark Zuckerberg). His cloud backup solution for email and websites recently won funding of up to $250,000 from prominent global seed accelerator 500 Startups, and is targeting a valuation between $10-50 million, a number you'd associate with Silicon Valley, not Singapore.

4. Keep it simple.

That said, starting a revolution doesn’t need to be complicated. “Many people here are just going for the cool, sexy stuff like loyalty programs, coupons and special boxes—you know, premium style—instead of addressing the basic needs,” says Vinnie Lauria, founding partner of Singapore-based seed fund Golden Gate Ventures. “Basic services may not be attractive to get into, but for an investor, that’s the sexy stuff. I would love to invest in something that’s just straight up e-commerce; selling a product with a stated price to an end user. Every startup I see now spend too much time in fluffy stuff like flash sales. Stop it—just stick to the basics.”

Want to meet people like Vinnie Lauria? See Singapore's top startup events.

5. Have fun, don’t stress.

Clearly, tough times are inevitable when you’re an entrepreneur, so it's important to avoid burning out or worse, giving up. Several Singapore startups have got this down pat. “When things get crazy, we try to remind people why they’re in a startup—to enjoy bigger and more immediate gratification for hard work—and to have fun,” says RedMart's CEO Roger Egan. “We also bought a Nespresso machine to celebrate our 1,000th customer, maintain a well-stocked pantry and throw monthly pizza parties.” The team at online beauty store Luxola also goes the extra mile to have fun. According to their regional marketing director Camille Schu, the team goes on a treasure hunt slash pub crawl during Christmas time, and is moving into a big industrial space in June that will have all the works: couches in the lounge, makeup counters, ping pong tables and yoga mats.

Looking for an affordable working space? See our roundup of co-working spaces in Singapore.

6. Eat humble pie.

Hugh Mason, CEO of one of Southeast Asia’s most successful seed accelerator programs JFDI.Asia, quotes emotional maturity and the willingness to put ego aside as key characteristics of a successful startup. He identifies “winners” not by their idea, but by how “coachable” they are. “We all have to take a few of life’s knocks to learn the lessons, me included!” he says. Vinnie Lauria reiterates this by saying that startups need to “not be full of themselves”. Humility is hard to measure, but many of the startups we spoke to, like Carousell and travel aggregator Flocations, used the term “flat hierarchy” in a matter of fact manner, insisting that everyone gets to express their ideas, which will all get a chance at execution. Roger Egan attributes much of Redmart’s success—they recently hit $3 million in annual revenue—to never thinking you know it all. “I’ve learnt that I have a lot I still don’t know in terms of being a CEO and that my team members are often the best source of learning,” he said.

7. Just get it done.

“Your idea may be brilliant, but it’s probably not as unique as you think. 10 other people may have already thought of your idea. The key to success is execution,” says Jamie Wang, the director of P2P car rental platform iCarsClub. Every other Singapore startup we spoke to agrees. Said Viddsee’s Tan, “Startup success is 5% idea and 95% execution.” And again, it doesn’t need to be too complicated. Lauria is surprised that so many people come to him with only an idea: “Entrepreneurs need to have built some form of prototype before expecting to pitch. It just needs to address the point they’re going after and can even be put together by some third-party service. It doesn’t even need to look nice."

Check out resources and apps recommended by Singapore's super startups.

Download the fuller, more interactive version of this story on your iPad or Android, or visit our Issuu page tomorrow to get it in PDF format. 


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