Globalization of Malaysian Music Industry

We live in a globalised world. Boundaries and differences are becoming increasingly blurred as globalisation takes over the course of human development. With the aid of information technology, we have become ever so advanced in many aspects beyond past generations. Thanks to the unlimited opportunities emerged from globalisation, we can have more frequent exchanging of ideas, trade, culture, education and so on, between a country and the rest of the world.

Globalisation has made the world become relatively smaller, thus in a way, it can be said that the on-going trend makes it more viable for anyone who wants to make something of themselves, as the world today is practically an oyster of an entirely new level. If one as to wonder: what truly defines globalisation? To put it into perspective, it can be said that globalisation is a process of interaction and integration among the people, firms, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment through the effective use of information technology.

(Institute, 2013) This process can bring upon an overwhelming effect on our environment, culture, social-political systems, economic development and prosperity, and even on our physical well-being regardless of where we may be. (desirezunlimited, 2008)Music, as a matter of fact, has also enjoyed a much wider prospect from the global community due to globalisation, which happens to the key focus of the topic today – the Malaysian music industry amidst the dawning era of globalisation.

As Malaysia has become more prosperous and economically developed, the local commercial music industry has also grown to be more important in the Malaysian society. Malaysian popular music today, although closely following the footsteps and styles of the western as well as international popular streams, the trend does indicate an individual sense of artistic expression in the contemporary Malaysian culture. Furthermore, we even get to see that there is a drastic increase in the number of radio stations and television channels broadcasting a wide variety of music for the past 15 years.

(Chopyak, 2007)It is also during these past few years that we begin to witness the newly emerging and experimental local music scene has sprouted quicker than ever to be a force to reckon with in the international music arena. This is despite the history of Malaysian contemporary music being considerably young and the fact that the saturation level of internet users in the country has only picked up its pace in recent years.

Malaysia, being a multiracial country comes from a much diverse musical background hence Malaysian music may offer an edgy marketability and versatility – for every ethnic group performs their own traditional music as well as sharing variousgenres of music. In spite of the many foreign imports of music in the Malaysian market, the local music industry is also a potpourri of Asian musical talents, recognising noteworthy artistes from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia.

It is the high-tolerance and openness of Malaysian consumers that encourage independent music makers in the country to step out of their shells by experimenting music with information technologies. Through simple networking platforms such as YouTube, Twitters and MySpace, we have young bold attempts by Malaysian musicians reaching out to a bigger audience globally. The following examples of Malaysian artistes receiving recognition are just the tip of the iceberg of evidence that shows the expanding level of Malaysian music industry in this globalised community.

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza is known in the Malaysian music industry as everyone’s favourite pop princess, singing memorable songs in Malay. After winning an unparalleled number of music awards in the country and regionally including Anugerah Industri Muzik(AIM) awards, Anugerah Bintang Popular awards, Anugerah Planet Muzik awards, Anugerah Juara Lagu awards and MTV Asia Awards, she has also been voted ten times consecutively as the Regional Most Popular Artiste in the Anugerah Planet Muzik. Siti Nurhaliza happens to also be holders of two records in the Malaysia Book of Records.

Born into a musically inclined family, Siti initiated her musical career singing traditional songs at the tender age of 12. She then started performing at wedding ceremonies and dinner parties where she slowly gained popularity in her hometown of Temerloh, Pahang. Her path to stardom began when Siti won the Bintang HMI 1995 award at 16. Her first single entitled Jerat Percintaan won her the 11th Anugerah Juara Lagu and another two awards for Best Performance and Best Ballad. (Media, 2012) The queen of Chinese ballads – Fish Leonghas participated actively in the development of Chinese pop culture locally.

Her songs have won quite a number of awards in many music charts in Malaysia and abroad. Fish started her career in Taiwan after being discovered by a veteran Taiwanese singer-songwriter- Mr. Lee Zhong Sheng. Since then, she has produced eight solo albums and in total her albums sold over 1,500,000 copies all around Asia. Some of her notable achievements in recent years includewinning the best female vocalist award in Singapore Hits Awards 2003 as well as the Malaysia Most Popular Singer award in Singapore Hits Awards 2004 and 2005.

(Pro, 2006) The mega Malaysian band – the Azenders,drew a lot of attention as it was formed bymembers from fouralready well-accomplished punk-rock groups: Bunkface, One Buck Short, Dichi Michi and Plague of Happiness. Currently, the final line-up consists of Sam, the vocalist; Kudut, the drummer; Izal, the bassist and Ajam on synth/strings. Last year, the Azenders made quite a commotion in the local and regional music scene when they won the Battle of The Bands organised by Hard Rock Cafe in Malaysia, where being the regional winner meant that they stood a chance of playing alongside Bon Jovi.

Unfortunately, the Azenders may have won the competition in Malaysia, they did not make it to the next level. Nevertheless, the boys have recently released their new single entitled ‘Peribadi’ and have already received more attention from outside of country due to their participation in the widely publicised Battle of The Bands. (Lee, 2011) Malaysian grass-root Chinese singer Ah Niu, is the stage name of Tan Kheng Seong. His most iconic song was entitled “Dui Mian De Nu Hai Kan Guo Lai” (Look over here, girl in front of me) became wildly popular as an addictive sing-along tuneamong Chinese music fans.

He had proven to be a versatile musician for he has since composed a number of songs for local artists as well as from abroad, and even directed a movie in Malaysia. Besides, owing to his popularity, Ah Niu has been invited to be the special guest for many concerts for artists around Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. (Sensex, 2013) Mizz Nina – also known as the hip-hop electro-groove-pop princess, her musical career took off with theTeh Tarik Crew, whom she foundedin 1999. The group’s debut album, How’s the Level? received two nominations at the Anugerah Industri Music (AIM) in 2002.

In just 2 years,Mizz Nina had already got herself a radio show, a modelling career, her own designer label and two more AIM nominations for Teh Tarik Crew’s sophomore album, and she even performed in notable events such as Rock the World and Asian X Games. Her debut solo album, What YouWaiting For released in 2010 was collaboration with local and international artists. However, it was the first single – WhatYou Waiting For, a memorable duet with Colby O’Donis that became MizzNina’s stepping stone to a greater audience. The infectious hit topped the local charts and the digital download charts in Malaysia.

(Media, 2012) Another Malaysian talented singer would be none other than Shila Amzah. Born as the daughter of the famous Malaysian singer, ND Lala, Shila could sing well in Malay, Chinese, English and even Spanish. In 2012, she became the runner-up of the second season of One in a Million in 2007 and the champion of Chinese music competition, Asian Wave. Shila Amzah was nominated at the World Music Awards 2012. She may be considered as a new comer but she has indeed represented the versatility of a multi-lingual singer of her home country.

(Aforadio, 2012) In the genre of jazz, Malaysia offers the whimsical, jazzy singer-songwriter Zee Avi. In 2007, Zee Avi posted a video of her first song on YouTube in favour of her friend who missed her first performance in Kuala Lumpur. The video took off as a miraculous sensation and it landed her first record deal with an American music label owing to the buzz generated by her YouTube channel. She has since then made several albums and toured both locally and internationally, performing her soulful jazzy music. (Reges, n. d.)

The globalised music scene in Malaysia has become a phenomenon when we do not only get to see local artists taking off and gaining success overseas, we see them getting recognitions and sponsorships to perform abroad. One of such occasion would be MIDEM, the largest music industry trade fair in the world where a long list of Malaysian artistes would be showcased in the music event named “Malaysian Supernova”. These musicians include rockers Hujan and Bunkface, deejay extraordinaires Goldfish & Blink, pop songstresses Amanda Imani and Jaclyn Victor, R&B starlet Nadhira, electropop diva Ze! and reggae ambassador Sasi The Don.

It would be such noteworthy initiatives, funded by the Malaysian Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, that continues to expose Malaysian music industry abroad. The Malaysian government has been working vigorously to market the country as not only the tourism spot but also as the preferred destination for meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions and major music events. People from all over the world would be keen to come to Malaysia due to its diverse and unique cultures. Thus having a thriving music industry in Malaysia becomes an added bonus to visitors who happen to be avid fans of Malaysian musicians.

(CHEANG, 2013) From a general point of view, globalisation has transformed the music industry into a decentralized and fractured market, hence offering more opportunities to artists for greater scale of exposure in a global market. Local musicianswishing to break into the overseas market should be equipped to meet up with the challenges that arise from a globalised market. Those who are versatile, tech-savvy and creative are more likely to attain great success in the music scene because they understand what needs to be done to reach out to the world.

Conclusively, Malaysian musicians should advance in confidence and assertiveness and create good music that music lovers would enjoy. It is therefore with great anticipation to see the future of Malaysian music industry gaining even more recognition and acknowledgment from the global community, just as status enjoyed by K-pop(Korean Pop) and J-pop(Japanese Pop) spreading their influence all around the world, perhaps one day M-pop(Malaysia Pop) will reign in the international music scene as well.