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A festival of free sharing

Online file sharing. Provided to The Jakarta Post

Publication Date : 26-11-2012


Online music labels—known as "netlabels"—from across Indonesia recently gathered for the very first time in Yogyakarta and sent out a big message: free music sharing for all.

The Internet is a happy playground for music lovers. It's a place where you can do, see and listen to anything you want in terms of music.

With a super speedy Internet connection and good storage on your hard disk, you can easily change your musical references by downloading new stuff or sharing your music with friends around the world.

With the Internet, the world has no limits. No boundaries have been placed on online music — allowing you access to almost anything you want. Only one question remains — do you get your online musical fix legally or illegally?

Brought to life by musical activists, "netlabels" see the Internet as the best medium for delivering good music to wider audiences.

One thing is certain, they opt to follow the legal side of the game, where artists agree to distribute their work and people can download it for free. Once listeners feel happy with the work they can donate — helping netlabels survive in the process.

This simple take-and-give concept has been applied perfectly.

"Netlabels" in Indonesia was started by Yes No Wave Music back in 2007.

Punk rock activist Woto Wibowo, who is known as Wok the Rock, founded it in his hometown of Yogyakarta. His battle to introduce the concept to music fans was tough but after five years, they're seeing good results, with more than 50 releases and high number of downloads for each music release.

It's now the biggest Internet-based music label in the country, spreading good music for free on a legal sharing basis.

The label has become the "home" of many bands, including big, popular ones like White Shoes and the Couples Company, The Upstairs, Seek Six Sick and Risky Summerbee, and the Honeythief, all of which wanted to stay close to their fans by delivering exclusive material.

Yes No Wave Music's existence has inspired others to set up similar ventures in other cities.

"Now we have 17 netlabels across the country," says Wok.

The two-day Indonesian Net Audio Festival 2012, held on November 16-17, was part of an extended effort to get recognition as well as by celebrating the existence of "netlabels". It also marked Yes No Wave Music's fifth birthday.

The event was a celebration of a musical movement, with different programmes being held in various venues, including the Kedai Kebun Forum, Langgeng Art Foundation and Oxen Free. The discussion on the first day was definitely one of the festival's highlights.

"In short, the discussion we had placed 'netlabels' as cultural agents, not only stakeholders in the music industry," Wok said.

One of the discussion's participants, senior researcher Nuraini Juliastuti from Kunci, pointed out that by sharing music, it helped to empowering culture apart from just doing business. Other participants included Anggung KuyKay from Bottlesmoker, which represents Wok the Rock himself, and Ari Juliano from Creative Commons Indonesia.

The festival also screened "Press Pause Play", a movie that received international attention when it was released in a very unconventional way - the producer released the movie through a torrent download, where people could get it for free and contribute a donation.

"Press Pause Play" documents the extreme changes in how people have reacted to the digital age. An important part of the movie is music.

Elsewhere in the festival, workshops on setting up Internet-based online radio stations were held.

But the main highlights were definitely musical performances from musicians who had placed their work on netlabels.

Performers included Bottlesmoker, Serigala Jahanam, Seek Six Sick and Frau. The latter two had been inactive in music for at least a year.

"It's like a farewell party for me," said Frau, who has now left the stage to focus on other activities. Frau's "Starlit Carousel" album was one of the all-time highest download albums on Yes No Wave Music's catalogue.

Bottlesmoker is widely known for its Internet guerrilla strategy, spreading its music around the likes of Europe and China.

The night was closed by Seek Six Sick, which had been absent from the stage for a while. The band conquered the stage with its experimental brand of rock music.

Wok the Rock was happy with the festival's turnout but added that it would only be held every two years to allow proper preparation.

See you at the Indonesia Net Audio Festival 2014.

The writer is a contributor of The Jakarta Post. The article was first published on November 25, 2012.


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