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'Playing' it forward: Virtual concerts offer new way to enjoy music while helping others

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, May 14, 2020  /  01:46 pm
'Playing' it forward: Virtual concerts offer new way to enjoy music while helping others

Paying tribute: A screen grab from the Erwin Gutawa Orchestra's exclusive charity concert "Orkestra Di Rumah" featuring singer Tulus, who dedicated his closing song, “Manusia Kuat” (Strong Human), to medical workers. The concert raised more than Rp 375 million for the COVID-19 relief aid. (JP/Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak)

Virtual concerts are offering a new way to enjoy music, an art form and "language" that transcends the barrier of a display monitor.

The convenience of sharing cyberspace has its ups and downs, but it is still the most effective medium for those in the entertainment industry to stay in touch with their fans while maintaining their presence in these uncertain times.

While the quality of internet connections is likely to remain an issue, virtual concerts are appealing in that "concertgoers" can listen to their favorite artists or musicians in a private setting.

This sense of relatedness was audibly palpable on April 19 during the Erwin Gutawa Orchestra's "Orkestra di Rumah" (Orchestra at Home) featuring singer Tulus: Concertgoers could hear Tulus' pet cats meowing in the background as the concert started.

Indonesian singer Tulus.Indonesian singer Tulus. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari )

The rest of the 40-minute concert was all professionalism.

One can only imagine the work it took to ensure that the 50 musicians playing at home were in tune and in sync to deliver a performance with quality audio to their virtual audience.

All performers were clad in black against a black backdrop to exude the atmosphere of a darkened concert hall, allowing the audience to focus on just the music.

“We would like to shed some light, entertain and encourage you in this time of uncertainty. During this pandemic, we should be in unison as in an orchestra, be in harmony,” Erwin, the conductor and founder of his eponymous orchestra, said at the start of the concert.

Tulus opened the concert with his 2014 hit song “Sepatu” (Shoes), followed by “Cahaya” (The Light) from his 2016 album Monokrom.

“I chose this song to soothe you all,” the singer said, addressing his audience. “I never had the chance to sing with an orchestra. I hope we can collaborate again on a real stage,” he added.

The exclusive charity concert was livestreamed on the website of event organizer Loket.com and was open only to ticket holders, just like a "real" concert.

Proceeds from the concert tickets, sold for Rp 50,000 (US$3.30) to Rp 2 million and were also available on the GoTix app, will be donated to medical workers and the COVID-19 relief aid.

The concert raised over Rp 375 million from the 5,441 people who bought tickets. The fundraiser continued until April 22 and a recording of the concert was rebroadcast on April 26 for a second group of paying viewers.

Beyond supporting a good cause and providing entertainment, the concert also paid tribute to two of the country’s musical legends, with Tulus crooning “Setia” (Faithful) and “Damai Bersamamu” (I Find Peace in God) of the late, great pop singer Chrisye. 

He also covered Glenn Fredly’s “Kasih Putih” (White Love) in remembrance of the singer-songwriter, who passed away on April 8.

The concert closed with “Manusia Kuat” (Strong Human), which Tulus wrote in 2016 and was used as the official theme song of the 2018 Asian Para Games. In this virtual rendition, he dedicated the song to all medical workers on the COVID-19 front line, pictured in the accompanying video clip.

Various formats have been used for online concerts. The first of these was organized by TV journalist Najwa Shihab, who gathered together dozens of performers and public figures and featured them individually in the four-day charity concert, #dirumahaja (Stay At Home).

The free-to-view concert was livestreamed from March 25 to 28 on Narasi.tv and its YouTube channel, and raised over Rp 11 billion through its concurrent campaign on the fundraising platform Kitabisa.com.

Meanwhile, Kompas TV has been broadcasting the “Konser Amal Dari Rumah” weekly charity concert on Saturdays on TV as well as on its YouTube channel.

Although Kompas TV did not film these "no audience" concerts in its studio, it still gathered the performers in the same space and broadcast it live in a professional production.

The concert on April 25 featured "King of Dangdut" Rhoma Irama and his Soneta Band, performing their hit songs since the 1970s and the newly written “Virus Corona”. The show raised over Rp 771 million from donors.

The week before, Kompas TV invited Didi Kempot, nicknamed "the King of the Broken-Hearted" for his lyrics on lost love. The concert, which turned out to be the Javanese pop singer-songwriter's last public appearance before he passed away on May 5, raised Rp 7.6 billion.

Curtain call: Didi Kempot appears on April 16, 2020 in what turned out to be his last public performance as part of the “Konser Amal Dari Rumah” weekly concert series on 'Kompas TV'.Curtain call: Didi Kempot appears on April 16, 2020 in what turned out to be his last public performance as part of the “Konser Amal Dari Rumah” weekly concert series on 'Kompas TV'. (Kompas.com/Kristianto Purnomo)

JOOX has also been livestreaming interactive charity concerts featuring dozens of Indonesian artists from April 2-8 and April 17-23. By May 4, the music streaming service had helped raise Rp 250 million through crowdfunding platform Kitabisa.com.

“I’m excited to be able to meet fans and music lovers in Indonesia,” Rossa said in a press release following her concert, livestreamed on JOOX on April 8.

“This livestreaming is quenching our thirst for entertainment. On top of that, all of us, including me, can donate through this program, and I didn’t expect this high level of enthusiasm,” said the popular diva.

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