Naughty By Nature, Afgan and Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick of Incognito: Music Industry Nowadays
In early March we sat down with three performers from Java Jazz Festival 2017 – Naughty by Nature, Afgan and Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick of Incognito – to talk about how technology is affecting opportunities for musicians and the joy of playing live.
They each come from different musical backgrounds, different generations and different styles of musical delivery, but all of them agree on one thing: the music industry is changing.
“Back then everybody had their type of music. They sounded different,” agrees hip-hop trio Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee, who comprise the Grammy Awardwinning Naughty by Nature. “Today, artists are doing the same thing. Every beat sounds the same, they rap the same and they look the same. It’s really hard to separate them unless you really know them.”
The sound of the music is not the only thing that is changing. The industry itself is growing in a new direction. This Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ knows for sure. As a musician who has led the British acid jazz band Incognito since its formation in 1979, Bluey knows the music industry now is not the same as when he started.
“Record companies and record shops do not exist the way they used to, because of the advent of the Internet and the way that music is marketed,” Mauritius-born Bluey explains. “The industry now depends on two things. First, become successful from a ‘celebrity’ point of view – for example, become famous on TV or by luck on YouTube. Secondly, you have to have the skills to play live.”
Years ago, one of the measures of a successful musician was how many physical products they would sell, such as cassettes, vinyl or compact discs, but as technology continues to evolve, so do the mechanisms for delivering new music. “Selling CDs is a very hard thing to do nowadays,” says Indonesian singer Afgan, who has released five studio albums since his debut, Confession No.1 (2008).
Today, success is dominated by digital measures, with digital downloads, streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, views on video-sharing platforms like YouTube, and followers or fans on social media.
“Social media is a very important thing for musicians,” says Afgan. “There are many positive things we can get from social media. I use it to promote my music and to reach a far bigger audience.”
Afgan sees that the opportunities offered by social media far outweigh the drop in physical sales. “Back then you needed to join a competition to be heard. Right now it’s easier if you want to be a musician because there are many platforms that you can use to showcase your works. Many talented singers are discovered from YouTube,” says the 27-year-old singer, who has collaborated with singers including Raisa, Rossa, Yura Yunita and Rayi Putra.
Without a doubt, social media has helped musicians from around the world to be Naughty discovered, reach a bigger audience, and move a step closer to their dreams. But, at the end of the day, the skills of being able to play live will always help a musician survive, regardless of their era. Standing on that stage – whether it’s a small room for 50 invited guests, or a stadium filled with tens of thousands of screaming fans – creating a connection between the band and the audience will never be replaced by technology. The Java Jazz Festival – one of the largest jazz festivals in the world – continues to stand as testament to that live connection.
“If you have the skills to play live and never stop nurturing those skills, you can make a living. Regardless of whether people tell you that your music is commercial or not, you can always find your audience. This is a guarantee,” concludes Bluey.