Organizing concerts and live performances of superstars that attracts thousands of fans to a sold-out venue means making serious money. However, it is not always about business. Some music promoters continue to produce great shows out of passion and pride, and to make sure that the audience goes home with a memorable experience.

The Ismaya Group is well known for putting on highly-anticipated and unique festivals, shows and concerts, including Djakarta Warehouse Project and We The Fest. NOW! Jakarta spoke to Christian Rijanto, co-founder of Ismaya Group, about his business empire and Jakarta’s music concert and festival industry.

What do you think about the live music performance scene in Indonesia and especially Jakarta?
Indonesia, especially Jakarta has a very vibrant music scene. The Indonesian music industry itself is thriving and many musicians and bands have become well-known in neighboring countries. As a consumer, many are also very passionate about music. This creates a large market potential for the music concert and festival industry, not to mention that there is a market for almost all kinds of music here. The Jakarta crowd is also very receptive of new music genres coming in. A lot of event organizers are exploiting this and that’s why Jakarta is definitely not short of musical shows.

The ups and downs of Indonesian politics can create challenges, in particular when it comes to bringing international stars to the city. How does Ismaya address this problem?
Actually, it’s quite unlikely for the acts that we’re bringing over to be concerned about our country’s political situation. Most of them understand that every country they visit has its own political ups and downs. The fact that Indonesia has some of the loudest and most passionate fans in the entire world motivates them to stop by our country to perform and share the love of music with everyone here.

How does Jakarta compare to other Southeast Asian cities as a concert destination?
We have some of the most passionate music fans in the world. We have the advantage of having this large, young domestic population which is extremely keen on attending musical events. That is one of the reasons for international artists to make a stop in Indonesia. Also, because of the large scale market, ticket prices can have better value than in our neighboring countries. This in itself propels Jakarta as one of the most sought-out music festival destinations in the region.

What kind of events does Ismaya Live organize so far?
We currently have five annual festivals, Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival, We The Fest, Ultra Beach Bali, Jakarta Culinary Feastival and Djakarta Warehouse Project, aside from our smaller-scale events such as one-off shows and collaboration projects like Festival Mesin Waktu that we did with Generasi 90an and Gegap Gempita with Pon Your Tone. We’re planning to launch a few new festivals next year and to continue perfecting our existing festivals as well with our ever-growing team that currently has 16 passionate and talented people onboard.

What will Ismaya Live focus on in the future?
We believe that the goal has always been about bringing an all-rounded experience to everyone who comes to our events. The experience doesn’t start when the audience walks through the gates of our events, but it already begins when they first know that their favorite act is coming to town and ends long after the event is over. Of course the goal is to always be better every single time and we can only do that by learning. There’s always room for improvement.

What is, in your opinion, a “perfect” performance?
There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ event. Even the most developed and well-produced events have their flaws. There are new challenges and obstacles every single time, which makes everything more exciting. There are also external factors that are beyond our control that could affect the execution of events, such as the weather. To always learn and introspect everything together as a team is what makes us grow and become better than before.

However, it is incredibly satisfying to see that we have large turnouts for every one of our festivals and also to be able to see that the audience seems to be really enjoying the festivals and raving about it afterwards – for us, it is the answer to our passion. 

Photo courtesy of Ismaya Group

Sari Widiati

Sari Widiati

Sari has been an arts and culture enthusiast for many years. She has written extensively on the arts, travel, and social issues as Features Writer at NOW! Jakarta.