During the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming businesses and online platforms enjoyed explosive growth, especially for the entertainment industry. In Thailand, however, one particular traditional music business — molam — plunged into dire circumstances. Yet to be afforded legitimacy, molam artists receive little to no support from the government. Today, they hang onto a dimming hope that they will return to the stage as their art form gradually dies.
Patiwat Saraiyaem or Molam Bank has been performing molam from the age of 13. Later he enrolled in the performing arts program of Khon Kaen University to become a professional molam performer. In 2014, his life took a dark turn when he was convicted of royal defamation for a role he performed in a theater play. He spent two and a half years in prison.