There was a time when music lovers rushed out to music stores to find the cassettes or CDs of their favorite musicians.
But as everything is going digital today, with just a few clicks people can have the singles or albums of their favorite artists downloaded on their computers or smart phones.
Many musicians today are also focused on going digital, using digital platforms to distribute their works and making the most of social media tools to promote their activities.
Local indie band SORE for instance.
“We have done a lot of promotions on the Internet because we think that’s the most effective way. Recently, we released a new single, entitled “Sssst”, through SoundCloud and it can also be downloaded through digital music services like iTunes. The response has been great so far,” the band’s manager, Satria Ramadhan, said.
Not just that, their new album SOREaList is among the top albums downloaded on iTunes Store, a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple Inc.
Other local albums are Sriwedari from Maliq & D’essentials, Yang Terbaik (The Best) from Ari Lasso, Raisa from Raisa, and Seperti Seharusnya (Like It Should Be) from Noah.
Rolling Stone Indonesia executive editor Wendi Putranto said selling singles or albums through iTunes or other digital platforms is actually not a new thing in the local music scene.
Go online: Band Maliq & D’essentials also sells their album Sriwedari on iTunes Store, a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple Inc. (Kapanlagi.com)
Other indie musicians, like Sajama Cut, White Shoes and The Couples Company had done that since 2006, he said.
“During that time, musicians or labels worked together with an iTunes aggregator in Indonesia to help them get their contents onto iTunes. But they don’t have to do that anymore because we now have iTunes Store Indonesia,” he said.
The arrival of the official iTunes Store in Indonesia in December last year is expected to give hope for the local music industry that is overshadowed by pirated acts and massive illegal downloading practices.
Wendi said that as the biggest online store, iTunes would be able to bring good benefits to the music industry.
“iTunes holds around 70-80 percent of the market share around the world. Its arrival here was six months later than in several other countries in Asia, but it’s alright; it still can have a good impact on the industry,” Wendi said.
On iTunes Store, one song or ring-back tone (RBT) is priced at between Rp 5,000 (51 US cents) to Rp 7,000 while for one music album it costs between Rp 45,000 to Rp 65,000.
“Despite the affordable price, people need a credit card to pay for it and the number of credit card holders in Indonesia is still low. There should be another payment method to overcome this issue,” Wendi said.
Moreover, he said, since October last year, many had also started to use the streaming service from the French web-based streaming service Deezer.
“By paying only Rp 60,000, subscribers can have access to more than 15 million songs, including songs from Indonesian musicians,” he said.
Opportunity: The arrival of the official iTunes Store in Indonesia in December last year is expected to give hope to the local music industry. (www.apple.com)
He added that there were several other local services for streaming and downloading, like Melon or Langit Musik, but they seemed to have been left behind nowadays.
“We’re just entering a new phase in digital music. These platforms give us new hope after the setback we experienced when the RBT era came to an end,” he said, referring to the RBT, a
service provided by telecommunication providers that rented out song tracks to be listened to by the callers.
Wendi said that digital music in Indonesia had started with the RBT era and reached its glory in the mid 2000s.
“Millions of song tracks were downloaded. At that time, 90 percent of the revenue of some labels came from RBT,” he said.
But since the Communications and Information Ministry issued a regulation in October 2011 to deactivate RBT services due to a lot of credit theft cases, the business had started to slow down, thus affecting many musicians and labels.
“That RBT era was huge, and nothing can beat it so far,” Wendi said.
For music labels, digital platforms have definitely played a major role in shaping their business.
David Karto, the founder of local indie record label Demajors, said as people now had changed the way they listened to music due to digital advancement, the company had started to follow that demand.
“We’re just trying to follow the demand; if the demand for digital is high, we’re definitely going there, but if there’s still demand for physical forms, like CD or vinyl, we’re doing that, too,” he said.
Currently, there are 13 musicians under Demajors, including Endah N Rhesa, Adhitia Sofyan, Djemina and Tulus, who the label has worked with on their digital versions.
David said the label was currently focusing on distributing their works on iTunes before moving on to other platforms.
Another label that has been greatly influenced by the digital world is Musica Studio’s.
Local player: Several local digital platforms provide services for streaming and downloading, like Melon or Langit Musik. (www.langitmusic.com)
The company’s senior marketing and international manager Dian Nurvianty said that although iTunes had just opened its official store in Indonesia last year, the label had been distributing the works of the musicians under it since 2010.
“All of our musicians have been available for download on iTunes since 2010 and other digital channels, such as Spotify and Amazon,” she said.
Dian added that digital sales, both full-track albums and singles, of the artists were increasing steadily every month, refusing to mention the exact figures.
“I can’t say that one method is more profitable than another, because digital and physical have different benefits,” she said.
Aside from all the benefits from digital channels, Dian said the label was still struggling to survive amid illegal downloading practices.
“Piracy in digital is still the biggest challenge we’re facing today. We hope the government can support us in this matter in order to develop the local music industry,” she said.
Globally, The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) that represents the recording industry worldwide says that the global recorded music industry is on its way to recovery after the decline of physical album sales, fuelled by licensed digital music services.
The 2013 IFPI digital music report says that global recorded music industry revenues increased by an estimated 0.3 percent in 2012, the first year of industry growth since 1999, boosted by downloads, subscriptions and other channels.
Digital revenue was up 9 percent to $5.6 billion in 2012 and now accounts for around 34 percent of global industry revenues. It also says download sales increased in volume by 12 percent globally last year and represent around
70 percent of overall digital music revenues.
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