Entertainers look forward to the music industry reopening

The govt needs to have people who really understand the industry calling the shots, rather than making sweeping rules


WITH the reopening of the economy and other social activities allowed, the music industry is looking forward to a brighter future.

Darren Teh — radio DJ at Rakita 107.9 FM, owner of An Honest Mistake Records, artist and influencer manager, as well as a member of rock band An Honest Mistake — said the pandemic closed down live shows, but people are still listening to music and found awaytodoit.

“Most audio interfaces and home recording gear were sold out at music stores for many months. Artists will want to showcase new material and fans would have an opportunity or an excuse to go out. I feel the rules for clubs to be opened should be relaxed. Government-led festivals, like Hari Belia in the past, led by KBS (Youth and Sports Ministry), should happen more.

“More events and more revenue. More money can be pumped into the industry to help it grow.

“Any growth in the industry would be a good thing as it would provide more opportunities for musicians and artists in Malaysia,” Teh said in an interview with The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

“I want to see Reading-type festivals existing in Malaysia and that can only happen when the government is involved. I’d like to see talent being valued over looks, over race or gender. Ultimately, more focus on local music.”

While he is optimistic about the future of music here, he also felt that more can be done to help it grow.

“I do hope the clubs will be opened soon, so people who don’t enjoy live music will be able to enjoy their version of music. They’re all still contributing factors to the music industry.”

He also applauded the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana) for their work in the music industry.

“It’s been good that there’s aid from Cendana, which has been very big in supporting not just music but the arts overall. Funding to run programmes and record music, film and produce art has all been pushed forward by Cendana, so that’s definitely a plus. I’m hoping to see more of that.”

However, he said there is still much left to be desired.

“I feel it should also be a top down decree that the arts should be put onto some kind of ‘pedestal’ because music is a huge part of a culture. Without government support, it could be a bit of a challenge to develop this culture.”

He said Cendana should also focus on secessionists, as well as bands.

“I think the government just needs to have people who really understand the industry calling the shots, rather than making sweeping rules. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. There are so many aspects to the industry. So, I hope they put the pros in charge and trust that the pros know what’s going on.”

Teh said new musicians have taken a different approach, such as online streaming performances, to sell their music.

Despite the euphoria following the relaxation of rules and regulations, Teh said fans and musicians must abide by the standard operating procedures set by the authorities for a safe live music experience in the future.

He hopes that everything would open up and that people can all start going to festivals.

Cendana founding CEO Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin said the arts and culture sector across the country has been negatively affected by the pandemic.

“It is illustrated in the Covid-19 Impact Report on the Arts and Culture Sector 2021, where 97% of local artists have been severely impacted by the pandemic and 77% of them have lost most or all of their income,” she said.

“Therefore, with the support of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia (KKMM), Cendana is strongly committed to supporting the recovery of the arts and culture sector.”

Cendana has an approved funding of RM22 million under KKMM’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund in the past 14 months to help around 8,000 artists recover.

She hopes to transition the sector back into the shared creative economy via cultural platforms like Art In The City, which began in 2018 as part of the government’s efforts to revive the creative industry during the global economic crisis.

“With the opening of the creative industries, in collaboration with the arts communities and partnerships from businesses and government partners, Cendana is committed to demonstrating the impact of the arts, capturing their strength, overcoming challenges and nurturing the soul of the nation for the future,” she said.

Art In The City is dedicated to art and performance, with more than 100 dynamic, colourful and optimistic programmes presented this year.

The effort’s first iteration in 2018 has since then spanned to include an array of music, dance, craft, theatre, film dance, food, heritage, history and more, spread across three full months from October to Dec 28, 2021.