For one of the nation’s entertainment business pioneers, many elements are part and parcel of success. Adrie Subono acknowledges it is not easy to convince international agents to send their artists to Indonesia.
The 60-year-old pioneering promoter of foreign music concerts lists the many things to consider in ensuring that international agents trust his capability in organizing music concerts. “These agents of artists not only prioritize the highest bid but they also check out whether the promoter is trustworthy or not,” said the chairman of entertainment organizer Java Musikindo.
“When we make a contract with an artist, we clearly outline things like the price of tickets, the total number of audience members, the location and so on, all of which means the agent can trust us not to sell tickets above capacity. We also have to be professional by abiding by the contract.”
Since the founding of Java Muskindo in 1994, Adrie has been successful in bringing numerous musical acts to perform in Jakarta, including The Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette, Frente, Boyzone, Arkarna, The Corrs, Westlife, The Cranberries, Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, to name just a few.
“We are dealing with world-famous names so we have to safeguard our image. Audience safety is also another important factor. Having thousands of spectators means we have to contact the nearest trustworthy hospital as well as prepare paramedics. These things need their trust.”
Securing permits for holding concerts is also paramount, and Adrie is grateful that so far he has not encountered problems in any of the concerts he has organized. “Those who give us permits also trust that we will abide by the regulations, so for the past 20 years it has been smooth all the way. Thank God,” he said proudly.
The major challenge comes from sponsors
“Initially I had to struggle to win sponsors’ trust. Like drops of water falling on a stone, I thought, one day they would crack. That was how determined I was to convince them. In 1994, what kind of sponsor could we get for a music concert? None! But those were the times of my struggle, up and down, and I had to strive,” he says.
The high school graduate previously worked in the telecommunications and shipping businesses, but his fondness for music led him to entertainment and the opportunities it provided.
“The income in the shipping business was indeed greater! But I enjoy being a music promoter much more, and if we enjoy our work it feels totally different. Now, I can go everywhere wearing a simple T-shirt, and nobody cares. But I couldn’t do that when marketing ships, could I?” he exclaimed.
The nephew of former president BJ Habibie said the entertainment industry was a perennial money-spinner, and there would always be a role for promoters. “This is a major business and it will never die because artists keep cropping up. One artist fades and another emerges. Each artist needs a promoter and each of them has a certain segment of fans and audience here, so there is always a market for every type of music,” he says.
“They can’t do everything by themselves, go on stage, perform, rent a music hall and sell tickets. American or any other foreign musicians need local promoters and that is what I view as an undying opportunity.”
Artists also rely on concerts in today’s entertainment landscape. “The biggest current income is from concerts, as CD sales are also down because of free downloading,” he added.
Adrie is often regarded as a trendsetter among promoters in Indonesia, although he himself rejects the praise. Instead, it’s about understanding market wants and needs. “Many people say, ‘Adrie can create a trend,’ but I don’t agree. It is not necessary, because trends change. I don’t care much about trends! We only bring artists that are favorites here, for example Shah Rukh Khan. Although he was not trendy at that time, I knew he still had a large market. He is like Bollywood’s god,” he said.
At the time of the Indian artist’s concert at the end of 2012, Korean artists were flooding the market as part of the K-Pop wave. Adrie was unfazed; he believes there is a market for every type of music and everyone can choose what he or she enjoys.
“What is important is that I support artists that are liked by many Indonesians, not only by me. I love blues but the market is small. But that does not mean that blues musicians cannot come and perform here. We just have to adjust for 1,000 to 2,000 audience members, while other types of music [might expect] 5,000 and K-Pop, 20,000. We must take in these facts carefully.”
However, sometimes being shrewd is not enough. He also believes in intuition. “We must be able to have a feeling for new artists with newly released albums and a couple of hit numbers. So it’s also a ‘feeling’ business. Research is useful but the results are not absolute. It’s up to us in making the final decision. Our feeling must be right! This is showbiz,” he said enthusiastically.
After 20 years in business, Java Musikindo continues to operate with a small workforce. “There are only eight of us. Close to the big day [of an event] we outsource for security personnel, ticketing, cleaning and other units, depending on the requirement of each event, under our supervision. So we don’t employ many people even for the day of the concert, although it is a major undertaking.”
For Adrie, the success story of Java Musikindo is not only about his own achievements, but it also belongs to the entire team, which includes his three children, one of whom is singer and activist Melanie Subono. “It’s not easy to organize a concert as there are 1,001 things to take care of, so each team member has a different important responsibility and I give them my full trust to control it,” Adrie said.
“As members of a team, we must trust each other, while cooperating. My management style is similar to a ‘family management’ one, as can be seen from the atmosphere of my comfortable office.”
So what is the secret to showbiz success? “We must concentrate fully and avoid doing any other business at the same time, so we can focus. We must be professional, adhere to the contract and regulations, especially as we are dealing with international agents and artists. So [the strategy is] doing business from the heart, focusing and being consistent!”
He does not measure his success in terms of dollars and cents. He deliberately set up his office in the Radio Dalam neighborhood, close to his home in Pondok Indah. “I love taking care of my grandchild, so when there is nothing to do I carry him around or take him to the children’s playground in the mall to ride on the toy train. And I am already 60,” said Adrie, who looks younger than his age.
“Every morning after getting up at 4:30 a.m. and praying, I practice the sports I love – running on the treadmill, cycling and a bit of light weight-lifting for almost one hour, four or five times a week.” (Anandita Moedzakier)
The Jakarta Post, February 01 2014
Adrie Nurmianto Subono
Place/date of birth: Jakarta, Jan. 11, 1954
Experience: Chairman of Java Musikindo, a music concert company, established in 1994