Sunday, January 31, 2010

Music promoters rope Twitter into their cause (Jakarta Post)

In the local music industry, Twitter has also taken on an important role: spreading the news and making long-harbored dreams come true. It also helps that it's very intimate - you can talk directly to any person you want as long as they have a Twitter account.

The Concerts for Justice, held for Prita Mulyasari in Jakarta and Bandung, were one such example of Twitter at work: Both concerts were initiated through the social networking site.

Rolling Stone Indonesia managing editor Adib Hidayat was one of the initiators. He tweeted the basic invitation for musicians to take part in supporting Prita, the subject of a legal system gone wrong.

"We only picked up the idea two weeks before the event," he says.

"That Friday night, the idea got really wild. At the time, we didn't know yet whether it was viable or not."

These concerts helped raise almost Rp 1 billion (US$105,000) for Prita's legal costs. Top bands including Nidji and Slank, and indie ones such as Seringai, played their part.

Another example of Twitter at work in the music industry goes back several months to when concert promoter Adrie Subono began his Twitter adventure.

"I'm no good with technology, I can never keep up with it," he says.

"My daughter taught me how to use Twitter. At the time, I was in a bind trying to figure out how to promote my concerts."

So he began tweeting about his job. He wrote of the negotiation process, future plans, even his failure to sign a certain artist.

His followers grew in number. On the first day, he had about 5,000. Now he has more than 60,000.

"I know most of them are music lovers; those who want to know about music concerts here follow my tweets, and I benefit from it by promoting my concerts," says the industry veteran.

The simple link has had an extraordinary impact on his business, most remarkably in how he decided to bring American rock band 311 to perform in Jakarta.

The idea was initially broached by the band's fans.

They flooded Adrie's page on Twitter and then made themselves heard, both by the promoter and by the band.

Surakarta-based Adia Prabowo is a die-hard 311 fan who was in on it from the start.

"Every day I'd send a tweet to Adrie's account," she says.

"I'd say, *Please bring 311 to Indonesia'. Later, I realized I wasn't alone. There were others doing the same. So every night we met over the Internet.

"I don't know what he thought about our tweets. Maybe he was sick of all the requests to bring 311 to Indonesia."

But Adrie responded. He raised the issue with the band.

"The fans had basically petitioned me, so I told the band's management that the demand for them to play here was high," he says.

The rest fell into place: Adrie struck a deal with the band. 311 are now scheduled to perform in Jakarta on March 30. Everyone's happy.

Even Nick Hexum, the 311 front man, paid homage to the Indonesian fans via his Twitter account, @NickHexum.

"It was so cool the way the Jakarta show came together," he tweeted on Dec. 19 last year.

"311 fans there organized and let the promoter know that there was a lot of support."

Later on, he told Brazilian fans to take a hint from the way the Indonesian fans had got the band a gig by local promoter.

"Brazilian 311 fans often ask me when we're going to play there," he says.

"Take a tip from the Indonesians and tweet the local promoters. Grassroots!"

Learning from the 311 case, Adrie tried the same approach with Cobra Starship, another American band.

"The whole Cobra Starship deal was completed within just three days," he says.

But all new technology is prone to abuse. Since anybody can tweet whatever they want, sometimes information can be spread without a proper reference.

News that can only be categorized as rumors often sneaks out via Twitter. It happened with the Jakarta and Bandung gigs for the band Kings of Convenience.

On several occasions, misdi-rected tweets left the public confused about ticket info for the concerts.

Out of nowhere, certain sources tweeted that tickets would go on sale Jan. 17. This was then revised to Jan. 25. That info was re-tweeted hundreds of times by hundreds of people, thus propagating the misinformation.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the people who use the media in the proper and smart way. Anyone can be a source of information. But the choice is up to the individual to choose what to believe.