We’re not building ; what happens is exploiting
While boys’bands flourish and compete with increasing intensity for a foothold in the local market , art in general and music in particular have seen little progress in the past several decades . And the mindset of our younger generation seem to be fixed on one exemplary only : MTV
That’s the state of affairs Indonesia’s modern popular music is currently in according to Yockie Suryo Prayogo , popularly known simply as Yockie – as well known mucisian and musical arranger who in the 1970s was a member of the popular band GodBless.
“I am utterly skeptical about the current development of our music because of this colonialism we have in music industry” , Yockie says.
Following are excerpts The Point had with the still young musician :
q: As a musician and an arranger, how do you view developments in our music?
A: There are two aspect that I see,and you can’t generalize . One aspect is industrial and second is art . And because I am inclined to involve my self in the art aspect, I personally don’t feel the boom , or the ups and downs , on the industrial side so much. My business is to create and to compose . But the thing we must pay attention to at present when we talk about music in the context of the industry , is the penetration of MTV , for whatever reason , including globalization .
It’s precisely what I was afraid of when MTV first came to Indonesia not so long after pak Harto (President Soeharto) signed the AFTA.
q: What was it you were afraid of?
a: At that time I already told my colleagues, including journalists, not to be too proud too soon , thinking that we would be taking off with AFTA . At that time the law of the jungle ruled in our world of music and it was traditional at the same time. We were living in a traditional environment , taking care of necessities of life of that time. Well,then the global industry of MTV came in , complete with their system of administration , money , and everything else that was needed. We didn’t have the infrastructure that could fit into their manner of working. From dealing with contracts to marketing , we just accepted everything they were offering. We did not have the knowledge of how to make industries run with fairness and at the same time represent and watch over the interest of our musicians .
q: What do you mean by the situation that you mentioned – traditional before MTV came in . And what after MTV came in .
a: Previously our music industry was controlled by the “glodok mafia” – those people who hunted for talent , did the recording and controlled the market and distribution at the same time But although the Glodok Mafia controlled the industry , the circulation of money remained local , it went back to production . For instance when Rinto Harahap’s album broke records , the money remained in circulation to find new singers and make new recordings of local artists. It still kept Indonesian music alive. After MTV came in , major label such as Sony , Wagner , EMI also came in big , but they did not contribute to the growth of local artists. There was no domestic investment . Those major label only use us as a market . So far example when an album breaks records-such as by Sheila on 7 or Padi with about 2 million records – most of the money goes to their headquarters , not to domestic production . The money goes out and we here do not build any music industry .
q: So what can our artists do to counter such a condition?
a: When Amien Rais was chairman of the MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly) I brought up this matter with him . We do need foreign investments , but if it’s like what happens in the music industry , then we’re not building any industry . What happens is exploitation . We’re being exploited to the bone because all the profit goes out . At the same time their penetration grow stronger . I mean , the aesthetics , feasibility , and trend , it’s all determined and penetrated through MTV and the existing pop culture . So , if people want to make music or write songs , that’s what they must refer to .
q: You worried?
a: Yes , because the directives for music making is also actively being disseminated by the music schools . For me , it’s not a matter of good or bad . But the fact that the mindset of our young people is being formed in that pattern , that is what makes be worry .
q: Are there many musicians who think like you do?
a: I don’t know . What I know is that music in unlike any other art form . In sculpting , dance , or painting for example , they have ideas that can be expressed , communicated and used to form communities. That’s not the case with music . What we have is musicians and listener. The musical environment is filled with people who don’t know that music is an art form , or even a struggle . It’s just something to be enjoyed – entertainment . That is what makes me a little bit skeptical about development in music .
The Point Edition (IGZ/HTP)