It’s been five long months since local circuit musicians have had any jobs.
With doors closed to indoor live music performances since the start of the movement control order (MCO), local live musicians have no means to earn a living — apart from selling off their precious equipment that has helped them put food on the table for decades.
In light of their ongoing struggles, the Persatuan Pemuzik Tempatan Selangor (PPTS) opened a live recording studio, called Memories Studio, for local musicians to use so that they can hopefully earn some cash.
PPTS president Francis Danker, who is also the voice of the Musicians for Musicians group, said during a press conference yesterday that “it was about time” that someone did something for the local talent here in Malaysia.
“Everything has fizzled off since the 1970s and 80s. That was our glamour time.
“After that our jobs at hotels were being taken away, we used to have to play in different pubs every night. Musicians have been and are going through a very, very tough time,” said Danker.
“That’s why we said ‘Let’s do something for ourselves’ and built this studio. When we saw the reach or audience we got when we did our live-streaming performances online during the MCO, I felt that now was the time for us to have our own studio.
“Everyone just wants to do this for one cause. And that’s for the musicians. We didn’t go asking the government for money. Now, you can come here and see what we’re doing, and if you think that we deserve to be paid, then that’s great. But we won’t beg you for it.”
Danker, who used to play in the band Memories, added that the entire studio is built from reused materials and items, as he had to essentially build it from scratch.
“I, myself, with the help of my eight Bangladeshi workers built this studio. We had a tiny budget, which mostly went to all the technical and sound equipment. So almost everything you see here is recycled,” he said.
“We don’t have sound proofing materials in the walls, just a bunch of old drapes jammed in there and we use the carpets that are old. Nothing except for the air conditioning and lights are new — and even those are from Jalan Pasar.”
Danker also said that while it was no easy feat creating the studio, he hopes that local musicians will find it easier to “perform” or upload their music online, with a proper recording studio to use.
“During the MCO and recovery MCO when we did our ‘Isolation Music’ shows, many of the musicians had trouble.
“Their cameras were upside down, the sound wasn’t recording — just a bunch of technical problems,” said the 71-year-old.
“Now everyone has the chance to get something done more professionally. It will be a long, long time before we can perform in pubs, so this is where musicians can come to make music videos, record original stuff, do whatever basically.
“Come here, put it online and hopefully it will help get us some coverage.”
He added that the PPTS and Musicians for Musicians members will also assist local musicians to explore job opportunities on digital platforms and hopes to also use their digital platform to generate income for musicians by promoting products online.
PPTS and Musicians for Musicians committee member Edwin Nathaniel added that he hopes local acts will be given “air-time” on local entertainment broadcasters to showcase their abilities, as he said that there is a lot of untapped talent in the country.
“It’s great to have this studio now for everyone to use, and hopefully some shows coming up. But we need to think more about our Prime Minister’s message to ‘buy Malaysian products’.
“Why do we say this? Because we want our local music to be aired on the radio, and TV if possible,” said Nathaniel.
“We have so much good talent here in Malaysia. But their songs are never aired.
“We just want our local musicians, especially the younger generation, to have an opportunity to earn a decent living.
Nathaniel, who is also the leader of the Aseana Percussion Unit, also said that he doesn’t expect local, original pieces to be aired 24/7, but hopes that entertainment platforms will consider playing more local music.
“There has been no income for us throughout the MCO and recovery MCO. So, if music from local musicians are aired, that is one of the ways that they can earn money – through royalties,” he said.
“I really hope that radio and TV stations will consider this. We aren’t asking for a whole day’s worth of airtime, just an opportunity. It’s such a shame to see the bright and creative minds of our musicians go to waste.”
Nathaniel also hopes that hotels will start hiring local musicians for entertainment and also said that PPTS can act as a point of contact to supply the musicians. – MMO