The Mystery of the Music Business Model in the Pandemic Era

Since the debut video of Sounds From the Corner in 2012 with Raisa Andriana, everyone understands that this woman is blessed with a golden voice, warm temper, and beautiful face. I am not interested in discussing that, because eight years later these three things have not changed. In fact, I admit it is getting more impressive. But if you pay tribute to this video, 80% should go to the more than forty people involved in the production of Raisa: Live in Lapangan Banteng. The videos you watch, reveal behind the scenes of the production process.
The music industry in Indonesia is not friendly to its workers. Like any industry, the music industry works effectively when it is supported by an ecosystem. Ordinary people are not accustomed to seeing musical performances as part of an industry, in which various important elements become important pillars, to be sustainable. Behind the success of your idol band/soloist/performer on stage, there are 7-8 supporting roles whose job is no less important – or even more important than the musician.
Of course, broad audiences are not used to seeing them because of their behind-the-scenes nature. Since 2017, we partnered with the studio drama music collective to create the Archipelago Festival, where one of its big missions is to highlight the music industry ecosystem so that there is a clear platform that brings together musicians in a broad context – not just musicians/artists. There is also an exchange of networks and insights, with the hope of growing organic interest in other roles in the industry besides musicians.
I understand that on the topic of COVID19 and its surroundings, musicians are not in the emergency category and are in immediate threat, but because SFTC is a music-based initiative, I want to talk about the impact of this pandemic on music workers in Indonesia.
Since the transition of music products from physical to digital, due to poor adoption of new business models, slow internet penetration, and low mass purchasing power in Indonesia, musicians’ revenue streams from song sales are now far from qualified. Musicians have to rack their brains to make money. Songs and albums are simply marketing tools to lure audiences to offline events – the biggest source of income for musicians. Also, there are merchandise revenue sources, sometimes commercial partnerships, and finally, endorsement offers influencers, and KOL. Not finished there, there are also many large corporations that “destroy” the consumer mindset by presenting free music. The audience should be educated to pay to come to the show because that is the most tangible form of fans’ support for their idol.
In an ideal world, music royalty as passive income should be the musician’s main hero for survival. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened much.
Relying on live performances is certainly not a sustainable strategy – physical energy, time, and age are real challenges when musicians have to face the demands of a gig and most importantly – find a stage. It’s no wonder that many Indonesian sidestream musicians have a double life – office workers are also musicians. Due to these inevitable conditions, I applaud any musician who is one hundred percent involved in music building a career, raising a family, and supporting himself.
As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, the music and performance industries are of course one of those affected. Music events of various levels – festivals, clubs, and communities all canceled – if not postponed. Not only musicians who are on stage, but music workers who depend their lives on these events can also now be sure that there is no clear income, at least 1-2 months from now. For music workers, large-scale annual music events such as WeTheFest, Synchronize and Soundrenaline are their vital grounds for survival. This pandemic situation which is classified as Force Majeure is a clear sign that there must be plans A, B, C, D, and so on for this situation.
Crew and musician support systems live from band to band stage to stage, without clear contracts with no written professional certainty. In the hierarchy of music workers, it seems to me that they are the ones most affected.
The short-term solution to replacing slots for musicians who have lost their stage is of course is quickly formed. One strategy that is quite realistic is to serve live streaming. A crucial continuation of the live streaming effort is implementing a pay per view system, to replace the form of physical tickets for offline music shows. If this 360-degree system can be implemented, I think this business model can be implemented carefully. Of course, the audience must be aware that the use of cellphone data or the internet is exchange value and a “sacrifice” from their side, so let’s hope they are willing to make sacrifices too.