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Draft legislation on music sparks criticism from musicians

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, January 31, 2019  /  08:26 am
Draft legislation on music sparks criticism from musicians

Musicians have expressed disappointment over the draft of a bill about music, calling it ridiculous and unnecessary. (Shutterstock/Barna Tanko)

Musicians have this week been denouncing forthcoming House of Representatives legislation intended to control the music industry.

A number of musicians met on Monday with members of the House’s Commission X, which deal with education, youth affairs, sports, tourism, art and culture, and some took to social media on Tuesday to express their opposition to the draft of the bill on music, which they call “ridiculous” and “unnecessary”, saying it would “shackle the musicians’ freedom of expression”.

Among the musicians who met with House members was Glenn Fredly, who told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Wednesday that the discussion was held to respond to the questionable provisions of the music bill.

“We found several points that strayed from the focus of managing the music industry in a comprehensive manner,” he said. “Essentially, the members welcomed our input. Although the bill is still a draft, we as musicians think it should represent the quality of the law. The law will come with binding effects and it is a serious matter.”

Glenn, who was with Andien, Yuni Shara, Cholil Mahmud from Efek Rumah Kaca band and Tompi, among others, for the meeting with House members added that the music industry is already regulated by the Copyright Law.

“There should be further discussions to avoid overlap in these laws,” he said.

Glenn said the legislators would need more input and insights for drafting the bill.

“There should be a comprehensive discussion with those involved in the industry, those who will be impacted by the bill should the House of Representatives pass it into law.”

Among the provisions in the draft many musicians consider “ridiculous” is Article 5, which says: “In creating, everyone is prohibited from […] bringing negative influences from foreign cultures or demeaning a human being’s dignity.”

Also, Article 50 states that anyone who is found “bringing negative influences from foreign cultures and/or demeaning a human being’s dignity, as stated in Article 5, could be convicted with imprisonment or fine”.

Read also: What politicians don't talk about when they talk about music

“I find that the draft bill on music to be unnecessary,” tweeted Arian13, vocalist of rock band Seringai. “Issues of the music industry, copyright and trade are already regulated in the laws; let’s improve those. The draft bill also includes many catchall articles that could curb creativity. There is no such law found in any other country because it is not necessary.”

Likewise, Wendi Putranto, a music industry observer and the author of Music Biz: Smart Manual to Know the Music Business, said he saw no need for the proposed music law, as the same articles can be found in the Copyright Law, the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law and the Cultural Advancement Law, among others.

“Instead of making new laws that will overlap and shackle the musicians’ freedom of expression, law enforcement in the industry is the most significant thing. It’s the industry itself that needs to be regulated,” he said in a text interview with the Post

Farid Amriansyah, a hardcore punk musician based in Palembang, South Sumatra, noted how the bill wants to bar any negative foreign element.

“Music is supposed to be universal and I think stating our opinions should not be controlled by a law,” he said in a phone interview with the Post. “The language of law can be interpreted in many different ways and it would potentially harm certain musicians who have protest songs.”

The catchall article was particularly troublesome for Farid, who said that a song could have 1,000 different meanings in the minds of 1,000 different people.

“It’s a matter of interpretation and it cannot be reduced to black and white,” he said. “For me, creating music is an absolute freedom as a human being. When it is controlled, where does that leave us as musicians? All this time the government has been absent and when it finally shows its face, it’s trying to teach us how to make art?”

Glenn said the musicians would follow up on Monday’s meeting with discussions beginning in mid-February with members of the House.

“Two of the most fundamental things in Indonesia’s music ecosystem, management and protection, have been largely abandoned,” he said. “Responses from musicians and the public are very important to put a spotlight on the draft legislation and we hope the executive would build a better ecosystem.”

According to, the bill has been listed in the 2018 national priority legislation program (Prolegnas) since September 2017.

Legislator Anang Hermansyah from House Commission X could not be reached for a comment. (wng)