Live performance is lossing to digital one
"Lower attendance means less profits, even losses," said pop star Thanh Thao.
Thao lost VND1.4 billion (USD66,000) when she organised the Chuyen (Story) show early this year to celebrate the 15th anniversary of her performing career.
The Thien Thai (Paradise) shows by acclaimed classical singer Duc Tuan in Ha Noi and HCM City later last year suffered losses of VND2 billion (USD96,000).
Tuan spent a great deal of money for the shows, which were also supported by several stars and singers, including My Linh and Hong Nhung, internationally acclaimed conductor-composer Paul Bateman and choreographer Anthoula Papadakis.
"We planned for Tuan's shows in 2010," said Phu Hai, Tuan's manager. "We couldn't stop it. Contracts were signed with foreign artists many months before."
Stage director Tran Vi My predicted the number of major live concerts like those of Thao and Tuan would significantly drop this year.
"Music impresarios who gained big profits from ticket sales in live concerts some years ago don't want to lose money," My said.
"Faced with economic difficulties, many people spend their money for daily life and don't want to spend for entertainment," Hung said.
Some well-off singers are still using their own money for their live shows. Singer Dam Vinh Hung said he had continued his monthly shows that he began in 2010 at the city's Opera House.
However, to reduce costs, his show next month will be moved from the Opera House to the open-air theatre at 126 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street.
"Ticket prices will fall to VND100,000 (USD4.8) from between VND1 million and 2 million," Hung said.
Hung said he would spend less money for sound and light systems for his upcoming shows.
"With various kinds of TV music shows, audiences can stay at home and watch their favourite songs on television instead of going out for live concerts," the singer said.
TV shows like Dancing with the Stars, Viet Nam's Got Talent and Evergreen Singing contest offered by VTV and HTV attract a great number of viewers.
"The number of customers to our music club has fallen significantly," said musician Nguyen Tuan who works at M&T music club in HCM City's District 3.
"The music scene is affected by an economic slowdown, more TV shows and the rainy season," the musician said.
Theatres also face hard times. Huynh Anh Tuan, who opened the Non La theatre early this year, said each month he lost VND200 million.
"I still keep it running, even if I can sell only two tickets a day," Anh Tuan said.
The Non La Theatre offers traditional music, including ca tru and tuong (classical drama).
Anh Tuan, who owns two mini theatres, one at the Institute for Culture Exchange with France (IDECAF) and the other at 7 Tran Cao Van Street, District 1. Both theatres stage children dramas.
"We hope our theatres will attract audiences soon since schoolchildren will start their summer vacation next month," he said.
Other theatres in HCM City are struggling to find actors as more and more of them now work for television, which offers better money and a higher profile.
City-based studios plan to make 2,000 TV serials this year compared to just 300 four years ago, and are in need of a huge number of artists.
"Many young and established artists from the theatre are now working with film studios," Phuoc Sang, director of the Sai Gon Theatre, said.