If you have stumbled upon this site, please note that i will no longer be blogging here. From now onwards, i will be using my Facebook Page as a place for my writings. If you’re keen to still read my writings, please go to https://www.facebook.com/melakaboy/
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Goodbye Blog. It has been fun. But i’m not moving into microblogging.
A post i wrote while on the plane to MIDEM 2016 🙂
I work in an industry, where people seem to be attempting to kill each other each day. Very often you hear stories of talent managers taking from talents more than they should, or talents taking on jobs behind their management’s back. Though they are supposed to be a family, they often backstab each other. It’s tiring to think about these stuffs sometimes, hence I try my best to stay away from all these nonsense.
I sit on my plane today, on my way to Cannes for MIDEM 2016, where I venture into a whole new dimension of representing my talents. Something I never thought I would get the opportunity to do right until about 3 weeks ago where I was asked if I was keen to join the entourage of Malaysian Labels and Artiste Managers to expose our products and services to an International Music Audience. Yes, the trip is partially paid for by MATRADE through their MDG grant and I applaud such initiatives as if it wasn’t for you guys, I would not be on this plane today.
Anyway, as usual, when I have too much time to myself, I’d always like to reflect back on things that I have learnt in my journey and give a word or two of advice to my fellow readers.
RESPECT, a word that is slightly rarely used in the Malaysian Entertainment Industry anymore. It’s sad, but true. EXPLOITATION seems to be the more appropriate way to put things this way. Now, I’d like to breakdown my thoughts for your reading pleasure on what each person means to the other.
Talent Managers: Widely mistaken in our industry as people who manage your schedules and follow up with enquiries. This is just the basic job of a manager. You see, the real job function of a talent manager is really much more than what it seems. A manager is or should be someone that identifies the talent of their clients, develop those talents, exploit the talents in various potential monetizing platforms and ensure that the talents brand prolongs in the industry that they are in.
Here is a rough estimate of how much a talent manager has to invest in the development of a singer per annum in Malaysia:
- Production of Song (RM 6-10,000.00)
- Production of Lyric & Music Video (RM 8-15,000.00)
- Exposure on Social Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram (RM 15,000.00)
- Marketing of talent (RM 10,000.00)
As you can see, a serious manager or management spends an average of RM 50,000.00 per annum on an artist. Of course there are ways to decrease this cost when dealt in volume, but still, the effort put in is no-less painful.
So talents, do the math, if your management takes a cut of let’s say 20-30% of your income per year. How close are they to breaking even with their investment? However of course, the argument is whether or not your management is actually doing the above.
On the talent side, management has to also understand that talents need to eat. And this in a lot of ways, means giving the talents the leniency of doing some jobs that helps them pay the bills. Even though it means that we’re not getting a cut out of it. It just has to be under control. That’s all. After all, we’re all out there trying to make things work for each other.
Then comes the talent agents. The most successful people of the industry. The people who has got connections to give jobs, but also the people who refuses to work with the talent managers. Had this conversation once with a prominent figure of the industry and he labelled these people the 10% man. The guy who comes to talents and say, hey I got this job.. I can pay you this much.. But if you let your management take the job, you will get very little. Now in malay, we call this kind of people ‘kurang ajar’. But hey, these are the most popular breed of people.
So, after all that is said and done, I hope talents understand better what their management is doing for them and how the management too needs to break even with their investments. And for managers out there, there is nothing more important that to making sure your talents are comfortable and making more money with you then they were doing by themselves. And for 10% man, you can go and fuck yourself. Karma is a bitch.
Mind my language. But hey, if talents & managers work together and understand each other’s needs and goals, That’s when magic is made.
I end my writing today with a video about goals and achieving them. I hope it helps some of you improve your work & career.
I’d like to also take this opportunity to apologize to talents who have left our management in the past couple of years. It is definitely the saddest thing to see talents leave. It shows that we are not perfect and are sometimes incompetent too. We are by the way just humans. However, we will improve ourselves, and we always welcome our talents back with open arms. I wish you guys nothing but the best in your future undertakings. Don’t be a stranger. I’ll always be your MB 🙂
Till I write again.
Some of you might be thinking.. damn this guy must really have balls to write this post. In the past 1 year of owning a record company, i have learnt that good music is not good enough to get on radio. You see, what’s good enough for you might not be good enough for me. So… do the math….
However, there’s been a lot of talk in the industry about people buying their way into airplay and i had the privilege to hear first hand of a band actually paying to get their song played. Imagine my shock. However, it is common practise in some countries to buy airtime. Maybe Malaysian radio systems should also practice this. At least it becomes a transparent transaction? There’s no shame in buying airtime. After all, it’s marketing dollar for the song.
Now i’ve decided over this weekend to do some research, to figure out what do you have to do in Malaysia to get into the Top40 of a radio chart. Had this discussion with some friends some time ago. YouTube views does not translate to airplay. Now, i beg to differ.. and i cooked up the numbers to prove my point.
Now, i’m gonna summarise the above so you have a better perspective of what’s cool and what’s not.
From the top 40 Charts, there is 12 Songs which are English & Indonesian. That’s effectively 30% of the charts. So if you’re a Malaysian artiste with a Malaysian song, effectively there’s only about 28-30 positions available for you in the Top40.
Astro Measat Broadcasting, effectively is the label with the most Malaysian songs on the charts. They have 6/28. That’s about 20% market share. Octave Records, KRU, FMC & Sony each has 2 songs on the charts. Interesting Statistics. I’m lucky to have 1 so far. Hopefully my odds improve soon 😀
In terms of producers, DJ Fuzz leads the table with 4 Songs on the Charts, followed by Faithful Music with 3 songs & Edry with 2 songs. Those are the more outstanding ones.
In terms of Distributors, Astro leads with 6, FMC with 3, Indigital, Rusa, KRU, Warner & Sony carry 2 songs each. So 20 out of 28 songs on the charts are distributed by the giants of the industry 🙂
*Music pairing with labels, distributors & producers are based on assumption with best possible knowledge. I could be wrong.
Anyway, i hope this gives you a clearer perspective of which producers gives you the best radio sound, how much traction on youtube & spotify for you to be a contender in the top40. Who should you distribute your music with.
I hope this post has been useful to you. It has surely opened my eyes to some interesting facts. Perhaps someday i should acquire 12 hours airplay report. That would give me an even better data pool to understand who and what is the in-thing with Radio.
Till then, this is Melakaboy, again, sharing some useful insights for budding artiste & producers. Good luck with your art. If you need me, you can reach me at email@example.com
Going to Cannes for MIDEM from 1st – 12th June. Hopefully i’ll be able to build some good network there and create more opportunities for Malaysian talents & their content! Till we meet about dear readers.
Do subscribe for more interesting facts about the Malaysian Entertainment Industry
It’s amazing how far Elizabeth Tan has come in her career. First song, and she made it to Anugerah Juara Lagu, the highest rated music competition in Malaysia. She did not win.. We did not expect too, we know the competition and what each person is capable off.
For the longest time, Elizabeth has been effected by what people on twitter have been saying about her. ‘Elizabeth Tan Can’t Sing’ but today, she has put it behind her. She now realises that people are going to condemn her simply because she has taken some limelight away from their other idols and that is probably not Ok for many.
Just some facts, Elizabeth made it to AJL by selection of Professional Juries, which i had the opportunity to speak to a few whom highlighted to me that they were also worried at first as there has been so much negative comments about her ability to sing live. But they were all happy with her performance in the semifinals and complimented that she has really improved.
Now, the truth is, every singer is different in their own way. You cannot compare Norah Jones to Celine Dion. You cannot compare Yuna to Taylor Swift. You cannot compare Justin Bieber to Pavarotti. Just because you do not like them, it doesn’t mean that they are not good. The music of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae are music that the new generation can relate too and that is why they have a big following. It’s just like during my time where i support Green Day & Oasis and think they are better than Metallica & Bon Jovi. It’s a generation gap. I do not understand Justin Bieber still i’m inspired by how his career has become what it is today.
So, to Elizabeth Tan, who would probably almost get a heart attack when she saw the title of my post, you’re a gem. I never once doubted that. Never once. I hope that you will be able to keep your head up high and believe in yourself. You are meant for great things. I don’t know how to say these things to you being your boss and all.. so i decided to write about it. You have inspired hundreds of thousands of people in Malaysia. And god willing, you will continue too.
I believe in you. Elizabeth Tan. I do.
Melakaboy, Jan 2016
PS : Haters can continue hating. Please hate my post too. I’m ok with it. Your hatred fuels my passion. 🙂
In case you don’t know what Thaipusam is all about, you might be keen to read up on this post i wrote back in 2009 when i made my first climb up Batu Caves. (Read)
So, it’s been 7 years i’ve been climbing Batu Caves for Thaipusam. It was almost been the same the previous 6 years, the test of Endurance, Determination, Patience & Focus. Without these 3 factors, chances you might not make it up the caves on Thaipusam Day. It’s tiring, super long queues and the smell is just plain horrible. The experience has taught me throughout the years not to take things for granted, and be patient and work relentlessly for what i want to achieve. And i’ve made it this far.
However, 2016 was a whole new ball game for me. This year, the traffic climbing up Batu Caves was cut by about 40%. Apparently there are some bomb threats and probably because it was a long weekend also, therefore people took to climbing on different days. On a normal Thaipusam day, climbing up 242 steps takes a lot of patience, you take step by step as it’s just like an almost non moving traffic jam. This year, it was slow moving traffic. Now, this meant that it was moving, but you almost cannot stop. Because if you do, you cause a human crawl behind you. So what do you do, you force yourself to climb and climb until you make it to the top. In about 15 minutes, i made it up and have lost every bit of stamina i have left in my body. I was feeling like how an unfit person felt.
This, to me, was something to blog about because i take every experience i have as a lesson from the Almighty. This Thaipusam, i learnt that moving too fast might not be the best thing ever.. and i realise, for the past 6 years, my life is as such. At work, and even at home, i’ve been bulldozing forward, hungry for success. I now realise that because of this, i sometimes forget to rest, forget to eat, and forget to love my friends & family and that’s not cool by me. As much as i love my work, my talents, i also love my friends & my family.
And so, 2016 will be a year i manage my time a little better. Build my team a bit better. Delegate more work, and trust my team. Yes, this would mean i make less money. But hey, I’ve been telling all my talents all this while that the work we do, is not just for the money. We do it because we love it, and that is what matters.
Thank you for reading.. and if your life is moving too fast, take a breather and think back. What are your priorities in life? are you headed in the right direction? Are you happy?
I hope this post brings you peace. Do share it with your friends, or family who have been working so hard to make ends meet. Let them know that you appreciate what they are doing but it’s ok to just take a breather. Sometimes, that helps make things clearer.
Melakaboy, Jan 2016.
Sometime last month, some of you may have seen me whining on Facebook about an incident i had with Versace, a brand i hold most dear to my heart. But i think it’s only fair i return the favour in writing for the emotional turbulence they had put me through.
Sometime early January 2016, i decided to go ‘Clutch’ shopping. After much looking, i finally found something i really fancy at Versace Pavillion. Now i was really excited because Versace was a brand that i really fancied. Bough my first Versace jacket for Liyana Jasmay’s wedding some 3 years ago, followed by an awesome document bag & a pair of Versace shoes last year. So imagine how excited i was when i saw a clutch that i really liked in Versace. I was practically glowing. Price tag read ‘RM 2,050.00’ and it was the last piece. Did not have to think for long. Decided, what the heck.. need to make myself happy once in a while.. So i decided to get the clutch bag.
When i got to the payment counter, the nice gentleman was kind enough to say.. hey you look familiar.. you’re a blogger right? Ermmmm.. ok.. though i’ve not been blogging for some time, i obliged and said yes.. He smiled and continued to scan the tag and shortly after that said ‘RM 2,450.00’ please sir. I was stunned. I said.. Wasn’t it RM 2,050.00 a little while ago? He continued to check the price tag and made some phone calls to some people. He later came back and said he wasnt able to sell that bag to me as it appears that the Italians might have increased the price.
OMFG! I swore at that point i wanted to just take pictures of everything and bashed Versace on Twitter & Instagram. Instead, i remained calm. I always believe everything happens for a reason. But still, my heart broke. My love for Versace suddenly hurt my heart so bad. I walked away. Whined on Facebook a little. And decided now that i should return the heartbreak that Versace caused me with a Blogpost.
By law, i believe that the outlet has to honor the price shown on the tag. I could be wrong. But hey.. Sh** happens.
Moved on to make a trip down to JPO a week after while holidaying with my wife and daughter. Finally caught eyes on a beautiful Toscani clutch. If you’re a fan of Toscani, their defect items go to JPO and you pay 70% less there for everything! And so yes, i ended up paying RM 400.00 for a clutch. I saved RM 1,500.00 which i later on bought a new Gucci wallet for RM 1,490.00.
And that my friends, is how VERSACE Pavillion F***ed me! For the good sake of their clients, i think they should come up with a policy to honor the price on the tags should something like this happen again in the future
So.. i’d start by saying that this post is due 10 years. About time someone wrote something about this openly without having to worry about who we are screwing while writing this.
You see, i grew up with Malaysian English Music idolising people like Old Automatic Garbage, Juliet The Orange, Nice Stupid Playground, Butterfingers, etc. I never understood why OAG went on to doing Malay music, or why the other english bands or groups fell out of the scene. What happened?
Today, i’m actually working in this industry. And i started off the past 3 years telling people that the Malay music industry is far more monetisable than that of the English music. It is true. There is no doubt about that. It’s not that the Malay music is better, it is just that native language tens to have better opportunities. It’s simply because when you are doing English music, you are competing with the rest of the world. And it’s a big & cruel world where advertising dollars makes the difference.
Now, is there hope for English music to live on in Malaysia? Personally, i believe there is and this is what i feel needs to be done.
- Radio Stations – to me, the most important factor of re-growing the local english scene. Radio stations like Hitz, Fly, Mix, Lite needs to all start playing 30-40% local content. You see, recording proper songs are not cheap. Producers charge something between MYR 6,000.00 – MYR 15,000.00 for songs in Malaysia. If there is basically 0% chance to get airplay to get the song in the market, that is $ wasted. Now how much can a singer commit to before they starve to death?
- Fans – The worst are the fans. In Malaysia, recording artiste always complains about people not buying their music. Fact. Check your phones & computers. How many songs were bought? Probably 3.. your own. Again. i believe that if we can make the song & the singers popular enough, we will be able to sell original music.
- Government – Laws towards support towards local content in Malaysia. Magazines, TV, Radio, Newspaper.. should all have at least 30%-40% local content.
- Singers/ Artiste – Stop being a dick. We all need each other to survive. Stop hating each other. Stop condemning the media for not supporting you. If you love your music enough, be prepared to suffer for your art
- Producers – Disregard charging high prices if you see value in talent. In the long run, if they make it big with your music, they will return for more.
I’m really hoping English music makes a comeback in Malaysia. I personally aspire to do something about it when the time is right within my means. Could it be sooner? Who knows. Maybe the industry will start listening to a young entrepreneur like me. Maybe we could really work together to make a difference. Who knows.
As i stood at e-curve one night watching a group of rock & roll band busking outside, i saw at least 3 parents encouraging their kids to give money to the street musicians. Took a picture of this deed as for me, this is proof that people will still buy content they appreciate. Later, i had my daughter do the same when i stumbled upon some young buskers in Senai airport. So i’m ending this post with these 2 pictures.
Don’t stop supporting local arts.
Been wanting to pen this down for the past few weeks.. but my work trips have basically left me with little sleep & rest for the past 3 weeks. Yes, i admit it. I’m getting old.
Very recently, a talent that i groomed and nurtured (at least i think i did) won an award as a best new artiste on a regional level, beating candidates from Singapore and Indonesia. I cried at the award show when she went on stage. Just a week before, i asked her.. have you prepared what you want to say if you win? and her reply was ‘actually it did not cross my mind that i was going to win’
Anyway, with such an achievement, i started asking myself a few questions.. which also questioned some of the poor business decisions i’ve done in 2015. What motivates me in life? why am i doing what i’m doing?
You see, i come to realise that the majority population in Malaysia is motivated by monetary gains. More money means a better life, means a better future, means you can buy more things you like. Do you think that this is similar throughout the world?
I’m not sure if many of you noticed but in the western countries, people are not really motivated by money. Really? yes money is important, but they tend to make decisions in life which reflects that money is not everything. For example, a person can save up to USD50,000 and spend it all in a trip travelling to see new things and experiencing new stuff. When the money depletes, then its back home and work as usual.
In Malaysia, if you did that, your parents would probably ask you in despair.. son, what has happened to you, are you not thinking about your loved ones? why are you not saving up for a better future? and this got me thinking. Asians are more prone to consider the feelings of other people. They care about the welfare of others that they love.
And that was the thought in my mind over the past week. I somehow believe that my motivation in life, is to see the people i love, the people i represent, and the people that rely on me be successful and happy. And that is what matters to me. If i did not make it this far in business, i’m ok. If tomorrow i fall into bankruptcy, i’m ok. If tomorrow i fail in life, i’m ok. But what i’m not ok, is working hard and making sure i do my best for the people around me.
I believe that this is the key to my success thus far. That i always tell myself. I’m not the boss. I’m working for the people i care about. I’m working for my talents. I may not be perfect all the time, but i try my level best to be. And if my talents need money to have a better life, then i sure as hell am gonna work hard to make sure they make money.
Different people have different motivations in life. Most are motivated by money, a lot by family, and some, life me, work to see people happy. What is your motivation?
The fact that you have clicked on this post to read this proves that you are either someone really passionate about music or you are someone who is still trying to find a grip on making money from Music in Malaysia.
Today, i write this post as a label owner. Though only 2 months old and only have 2 songs on my catalogue, both songs are on radio charts now. This is besides the fact that the other 2 songs that i am working with a label partner for is also on the radio charts. So i must have gotten something right? right?
Anyway, I experienced many faces of the music industry in Malaysia. During my schooling years (primary school) i was exposed to a lot of Zainal Abidin, Nora, and of course Amy Mastura! i still remember i will dance and mime to her song everytime they show it on TV. When i went on to secondary school, i then grew up with OAG, Butterfingers, Juliet The Orange & Nice Stupid Playground. It was great.
When i was in college, i started having love for country, folk & bluegrass music and that made me making friends with local pub musicians. It was a great time of my life.
Today, i’m involved with mainstream malay & english music making. So i’ve literally been through it all.
So let me tell you why we are short of Local English Music in Malaysia. Firstly, it’s because 90% of the people who listen to English music are pirates. None of them buys the English Music. And when you produce English music, you are competing with the Americans, Brits, Australians, ETC. Not saying that we are no better than them, but really. What are the odds?
A good composer friend recently told me. Do you notice the countries where their music goes international is actually music of their native language.. I’ve never looked at it that way. But we listen to English, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, French, etc.. This shows that local support for native language content is still the strongest.
And this situation is similar in Malaysia. Bands that have lived the english glory music days would tell you the same thing. In Malaysia, the music market is in the ‘Malay Market’. It’s not a matter of population or racism, but the fact is, the local malays are those who appreciate their industry, their roots and therefore they pay and buy music. And the fact of the matter is, a good English song can probably make RM 50,000.00 but a good Malay song can make a Million Ringgit. #FoodForThought
Very recent i met a few young musicians who play & write English Music. Damn they are talented. But my exact words to them. If you dont want to diversify your music, you’re looking at a very thin success rate. Not everybody can be Pete Teoh.. duhhhh
So looking back in History. Pub scenes. Who are the bands that you actually play their music today? Carefree? Kenny Remy Martin, Freedom, Blues Gang, Alleycats? what do they all have in common? they all have Malay songs!
Now, the question is, how do we improve this situation and make local content relevant again?
(These are my personal opinion and goals. You can disagree, just dont make it an issue)
I’d like to see the government setting rules for content on radio. At least 60% of songs played on any radio station, English, Malay or Chinese should be local. The Chinese community in Malaysia suffers the same fate. Local chinese listen to HongKies & Taiwanese singers. Not locals. #SadButTrue
After all is said, it also boils down to the listeners. Stop pirating music. Start paying for concerts if you want to see quality shows. Yes you complain that local concerts sucks as the show is so bare. Well the fact is, without proper funding, nobody can put on a good show for you.
There should be more incentive for international collaborations to happen. Not necessary big collaborations, but collaborations that makes mutual sense to do.
Anyway, i’d like to take this opportunity to thank my music partners Faithful Music, FUSE Asia, Tune Studios, Warner Music Malaysia, Universal Music Malaysia for believing in my product and dreams and helping me make these dreams a reality.
Now, hopefully i’ll make some money so i can continue to make music. 🙂
Oh, and here are some of the stuff we’ve done lately, so just in case u wanted to listen or buy some local music thats on the Hitz & Era charts now, here would be good choices 🙂
How did one girl from Taman Melawati change the music landscape in Malaysia?
The name Elizabeth Tan is no longer alien in the entertainment scene in Malaysia. Millions have heard her story and many have witnessed how she has become one of the most demanded youth icons in Malaysia. Today, i’d like to tell you the Paranormal side of her story 🙂
It all started in November 2013, when i saw a link on Facebook, shared by a friend who was then claiming that this was gonna be his wife someday.. It was a pretty little chinese girl covering Yuna’s Terukir Di Bintang. I clicked and watched her video and one video led to another. The entertainer side of me told me.. shit this girl can sing.. and the business side of me shit this girl will make shit loads of money..
The first thing i did was send an email to Elizabeth.. and in just a day.. i received my first email from Elizabeth.. haha for memory sake..
Over the course of the next few weeks, all i did was meet friends and tell them about this girl i watched on youtube and how she was gonna be a star. I sold the idea to myself first before others of course.
And so it was this lovely morning in December 2013 where we met at breadties in Melawati, the place where i also first met Adriana Jasmay on working with Liyana Jasmay.. 🙂 In my whole life, that was only the 2nd time i ever stepped foot in Melawati.
When we first met, Elizabeth came with her mum.. Irene. Very very nice person. And so i went on again, with my convincing tone that her daughter was gonna be a star. Believe or not, her mum’s reaction to me was.. are you sure my daughter can make money singing? haha. It was amazing getting to know more about this girl i saw behind my computer screens. Her brother, was actually a finalist in Malaysian Idol.. Andrew Tan.. now most might not remember the name at first mention but if you followed the series, he was the guy with the ponytail.. ring a bell yet? exactly!!
And so we talked about contracts and all the boring stuff and i told her to let me know if she was keen to pursue this adventure with me. At this point of time, it was an exciting time for me as well as i’ve only managed actors and actresses before this and most of them were already popular when they signed to me. So it was a challenge for me as well..
In just about a week or so.. she texted me and said.. let’s do this! and that was how we started.. 🙂
Now, most of the time, the management would have to work on a marketing plan and work on how to develop the career of an artist. But for Elizabeth, a week after she said yes, she uploaded this cover of Havoc on her YouTube channel and boom.. it viralled big time as the song was also high on radio rotation at that point of time. I really did not have to do much. She was being invited to interviews left, right and centre. All i did was help her coordinate and make sure she don’t get bullied 😀
Many people have the impression that we played a major role in developing Elizabeth.. well, i’ll only take credit for piecing all the puzzle pieces together. She did most of the work.
Today, 1.5 years later, Elizabeth is a superstar and also probably one of the highest paid celebrity based on her experience in the industry. It’s amazing what this little girl from Melawati has achieved over the past year or so.
And i only wish her the best in her career. I hope to be able to continue to guide and lead you into this vicious industry and hopefully we’ll be able to create more memories together.
Oh.. and if you would like to get in touch with me because you too sing or act like a superstar, drop me a link of your product at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who knows 😀
Melakaboy ( 23 July 2015 )