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The importance of Coachella, which returned last weekend after a three-year hiatus, cannot be overstated.
The return of this pop-oriented music festival not only serves as a sign of the return to normalcy, a much-needed celebration of life less restricted by health protocols, but it is also a saving grace for music fans who have missed out on live music performances for at least the past two summers.
The music festival also brings good news for artists, musicians and everyone in the music industry, because if the trend continues, if no new COVID-19 variants emerge and no new restrictions are imposed, those who depend for their livelihood on music will not only be able to enjoy what they have been doing so far, but also get a financial reward from playing and touring in front of live audiences.
During lockdown, most people tuned to streaming services to get their daily dose of music, but money collected from streaming is paltry compared with what is spent on releasing a record.
Indonesian music fans have another reason to celebrate with the return of this year’s Coachella. It is not every day that three of Indonesia’s biggest young stars share the bill with international acts like Harry Styles, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion.
And that is exactly what happened last week at Coachella, when Rich Brian, Warren Hue and Nicole “NIKI” Zefanya, who until five years ago were not known beyond their circle of friends, showed up on the festival main stage in what was billed as “88rising’s Coachella takeover.” 88rising is the record label and media company set up to promote Asian acts in the US music industry.
In a rare instance of national pride, fans could join with Brian and others as they celebrated their love of the country at one of the biggest musical festivals in the world.
Brian featured Jakarta’s iconic Monumen Nasional (Monas) as the backdrop of his solo stage while NIKI performed “Sempurna” (Perfect), a hit single by Indonesian band Andra & The Backbone, released in 2007, as the second song of her performance.
“If you guys don’t know, my name is Rich Brian and I come from Jakarta, Indonesia. And if you guys know me, welcome to the show,” Brian said during the intermission.
Actually Rich Brian, needed no such introduction. Everyone at Coachella must have known as he, NIKI and Hue are already familiar voices in the industry. Last year, the trio contributed songs to the soundtrack for Marvel’s Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, one of 2021’s biggest blockbusters in Hollywood.
In the past, musical exports from Indonesia were few and far between. It was years before a pop singer like Anggun gained a global audience and in the case of metal acts like Burgerkill, it took them relentless and regular performances at Europe's metal festivals to get recognition.
Brian, NIKKI and Hue are the new crop of artists who have been able to tap into the democratizing power of the internet and capitalize on it to reach new heights.
More Indonesian talent should follow in their wake.
© 2016 - 2022 PT. Bina Media Tenggara