Serious actions needed to safeguard concert-goers’ rights

Concert organisers have to be more prepared in managing and handling the crowd to ensure fans get their money-worth experience 


A FIRST-HAND live experience is the main reason that people are willing to spend their hard-earned money to attend a concert. 

They would save up month after month to catch their favourite superstars in action before their very own eyes, something they would otherwise only do on screen. 

However, not all concert experiences leave sweet memories. 

Recently, Mohamad Nasruddin Ab Rahman, 30, went to Korean popular music (K-pop) girl band, Blackpink, concert at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on March 4. 

He bought a pair of CAT5 category tickets at Section 207, row G for seats 36 and 37. 

“However, upon arriving at the seat, I found out that row G ends at seat 36 after which is the staircase. I asked at least three staff members but they all gave similar responses — wait for their supervisor. 

“But nothing happened. So, throughout the two-hour concert, I had to stand, lean on the rail, sit on the floor or the staircase,” he said to The Malaysian Reserve (TMR). 

The Blackpink Born Pink World Tour Kuala Lumpur tickets were sold from RM188 to RM1,888. For CAT5, a ticket cost RM488. 

Mohamad Nasruddin, who is a lawyer, sent a letter of demand (LoD) to the organiser to request a refund for the RM488 ticket of an inexistent seat, as well as an additional RM1,000 compensation for the inconvenience. 

Concert organiser should expect complaints from customers, says Mohamad Nasruddin (Pic source: Mohamad Nasruddin)

“The organiser contacted me on March 14 for a discussion but I asked them to reply to my LoD first so that I can get a concrete answer,” he said. 

Mohamad Nasruddin shared that he had only attended two concerts and that the first one, An Evening with Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza last November was a much better experience. 

“For concert tickets, I’d say the price range from RM100 to RM500 is acceptable for me. As long as the price is comparable to what is presented and good service from the organiser, I’m okay,” he said. 

To improve, he suggested concert organisers be more prepared in managing and handling the crowd. 

“The problem with concerts in Malaysia is usually the organisers themselves. They should expect complaints from customers,” he said. 

He added that the latter must be aware of their rights. 

“Organisers will only improve if more customers bring forth their grievances to the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) or the civil court,” he said. 

Nur Ilya Natasha Md Safar, 26, also hoped that moving forward, concert organisers in Malaysia would do better, especially in the ticketing process. 

“I often encounter slow ticketing websites. Crowd control during concert days is also always really bad, especially during the ticketing and bag checks. The lines are unorganised, there would always be people cutting queues and the delay in gate opening for each section. 

“Concert organisers must ensure that customers receive the level of professionalism and concert quality which is on par with the price that we paid. Concerts are not cheap. Make sure we get the RM2,000 worth of experience,” she said to TMR. 

Speaking of which, the creative and marketing executive noted that concert tickets were more affordable pre-Covid time. 

“In small venues, tickets were sometimes even less than RM200. But I understand that concerts with elaborate stage and lighting setups would cost a fortune. 

“For example, the recent Blackpink concert with its fireworks and stage setup, everything was incredible. Totally worth the price for me,” she added. 

An avid concert-goer, Nur Ilya Natasha used to go to five or six concerts a year pre-pandemic. 

Commenting on the affordability of concert tickets in Malaysia, she said it depends on the buyer’s preference. 

“If it is an artist that you have been a fan of for so long and has been wanting to see, you would pay regardless of how much the tickets cost. But for me, I always compare the prices with other stops like Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore. Sometimes ours would be a lot cheaper and vice versa,” she said. 

Nur Ilya Natasha (right) says the affordability of concert tickets in Malaysia depends on the buyer’s preference (Pic Source: Nur Ilya Natasha)

Nur Ilya Natasha admitted that she would pay up to RM1,000 if she knew that it would be worth the experience and fan service from the artists and organisers. “Artists often hint if they are 

doing a tour a year before, so I would plan and decide whether to buy the standing front row tickets or the sitting tickets, which would be a lot cheaper,” she said, adding that at least RM100 is set aside each month for concerts. 

Nur Ilya Natasha flew to Singapore last year for K-pop boyband NCT 127’s concert, which she described as one of the best she had experienced. 

On the other hand, Fareen Farhana Abdul Manan, 23, said concert ticket prices in Malaysia are not reasonable because organisers charge varying service fees. 

The 23-year-old believed this is unsafe as organisers could take advantage of the eager buyers. 

She claimed that the management of the Afgan Evolution Concert 2022 at the KLCC Plenary Hall was not good. 

“There was miscommunication among the organisers about whether or not to allow the audience to take photos and videos,” she said. 

As a student, Fareen saved up her monthly allowance and did a part-time job to purchase concert tickets. 

She has put a limit of RM150 for local artists and RM300 for international acts. 

Fareen Farhana suggests that related agencies put a flat rate on the service charge (Pic source: Fareen Farhana)

She also suggested that related agencies put a flat rate on the service charge and provide a variety of spaces suitable for concerts, as well as upgrade the facilities near concert venues such as public transport, surau and food stands. 

TMR reached out to Communications and Digital (KKD) Minister Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil for comments however, after various attempts, was unable to receive any response at press time. 

Concert Rules Tightening? 

Additionally, KPDN told TMR that the issue of concert tickets is beyond its jurisdiction. 

Meanwhile, guidelines under the Central Agency for Applications for Filming and Performances by Foreign Artistes (Puspal) as updated in December 2014 are worth highlighting for the matter. 

Point 13.1 states that the monitoring of foreign artists’ performance or filming locations is done by the Puspal secretariat, members of JK-Puspal and National Film Development Corp Malaysia (Finas) enforcement officers. 

Point 16.1 (d) specified that if the organiser or a local film production firm cancels the performance, the purchasers’ ticket fees must be refunded. 

Puspal was formed in 2002 to coordinate the admission of foreign film productions and artists. 

It was placed under the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry (Motac) and in 2013 was placed under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry. 

Recently, Ahmad Fahmi said Puspal guidelines will be updated accordingly to facilitate industry players. 

He also denied a news report that there will be tighter rules for international acts performing in Malaysia to protect the sensitivities of the people. 

Among the rules stated in the report included foreign artists could no longer hold concerts on the eve around Islamic public holidays, covering the entire month of Ramadhan, Awal Muharram, Maulidur Rasul, Israk Mikraj, Nisfu Sya’ban, Nuzul Al-Quran, Aidilfitri and Aidiladha. 

Male foreign artistes will also be banned from cross-dressing while performing.

Meanwhile, a town hall was held recently by KKD for the music industry. 

Among the matters raised were the concerns on equal distribution of the 2023 music industry digital content fund (DKD), royalties and copyright, restructuring the music industry, exporting talents, opportunities for the industry players and more. 

Ahmad Fahmi said the 2023 DKD will open more opportunities for industry players to create high-quality works. 

“The government has allocated a total of RM102 million to boost the promotion of local art products and stimulate the creation of more creative works. 

“International promotion marketing funds are limited to RM300,000, marketability fund applications are limited to RM100,000 and music performance applications are limited to RM300,000 per application,” he said during the session. 

Numbers Behind a Ticket Price

LOL Asia founder and CEO Rizal Kamal said venue, artist cost and popularity of the artist determine the ticketing price. 

“It is a matter of how much risk a promoter is willing to take. For popular artists, they will receive multiple offers for a tour. The choice of which promoter to use is based on how much is offered and if the promoter is the right one to partner with,” he told TMR. 

He added that all costs are factored in the ticketing price including artist fee, venue, production, logistics, manpower, hospitality, permit/taxes and finance. 

“A key rule to booking an artist is knowing the artist’s work. Secondly, right-sizing, which means getting the right venue for the artist, in terms of capacity and technical specifications. A promoter, through data of ticket sale history, social media numbers and other metrics would gauge the right capacity for the artist,” he further said. 

He noted that in the context of live performance, fans rarely complain directly about high ticket prices as it is determined by both the local promoter and the artist management. 

“It is a matter of supply and demand, and is determined by market forces,” he said. 

LOL Asia is a Malaysia-based live entertainment and digital company which has previously collaborated with world-renowned performers such as Kevin Hart, Russell Peters, David Blaine and more. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition