The Sign of time : End of An Era?

… everyone doing the best they can, but everything is average nowadays

Kaiser Chiefs, Everything is average nowadays

Well, at 13th of August 2010 Aquarius music shop in Pondok Indah Jakarta finally doing the dreadful clearance sale, a sign that this once powerful behemoth music store is out of business. Well, this ain’t the first time cuz I saw this coming a long way since Aquarius music shop in Bandung also closed after doing the dreadful clearance sale recently. Though they claimed that they are not out of business, just relocate the store somewhere else but the fact that Aquarius Bandung which once located in the heart of Bandung, in one of the most iconic street (Dago street) closed down is a sign of something is wrong. So, the only Aquarius left is in Jakarta at Mahakam Street, south of Jakarta.

What’s so important about Aquarius music shop? Aquarius Musikindo (the company) is one of the first music companies in Indonesia, they started in the late 60, music company that fuels the music industry in Indonesia. Quoted from Wikipedia Bahasa Indonesia :

“The story of Aquarius Musikindo started in the late 60s when Aquarius Music was engaged mainly in cassette recording/reproduction, and we have been active in music industry ever since. Our holding company, PT. Aquarius Musikindo was formed and established in 1988 which coincided with the new era of legitimate period and then rapidly developed and progressed until now with numerous activities in music industry ranging from signing local artists, being a licensee of international labels, having a publishing subsidiary, importing foreign music, being involved in wholesale/retail business, and also operating a recording studio. Our relationship in being an international labels licensee began in 1988 when WEA, EMI, JVC and PONYCANYON appointed us as their official licensee in manufacturing & distribution for Indonesian territory. Besides that, we are also the legal importer and distributor of EMI and SONY’s product (mainly CD) up to early 2001 following the investment/establishment of major recording companies’ business network in Indonesia which commenced in the mid 90s. While we still continue to be an official licensee for other labels, our license with WEA and EMI ended in 1995 and 1997 respectively. Currently our move in the retail business has grown further with 2 shops in Jakarta, and 1 shop each in Bandung and Surabaya. All of our shops are located at the city’s prime location.”

Hope it's not the inevitable end for them

One of Aquarius product

Besides that, Aquarius known also one of the companies that actually gives a damn about indie music (not that other big company doesn’t give a damn, but most company is directed or drive by commercial purpose, shows that not all their licensed artist album released in Indonesia cuz they didn’t marketable enough for our market. e.g. Jimmy Eat World, Something Corporate, and other great indie-rock band album never actually released here until recently after the so called “emo” genre became sold out) and Aquarius become a distribution outlet for some of Indonesia’s finest indie band such as Superman Is Dead (before they were signed by Sony), Pure Saturday, etc.

So, this is a sign of time, an end of an era, at least in my perception that music business, physically such as CD, cassette, etc, is over! Not just Aqurius, even Disc Tara, another music store in Indonesia also shows a sign of “defeated” such as close their store or relocated or renovate their store into a smaller venue. Maybe this is the time for digital music such as mp3, ring back tone and other digital form to emerge and victorious right? Well, if you ask me the answer is NO! The digital era kinda sucks for one main reason, they didn’t come physically! Yeah, I’m a sucker for artwork, especially music, and digital music couldn’t provide me that (I need something solid that these fragile hands of mine can touch and actually feels, besides the music that “touch” my heart and my soul, ouch! How emo I can be he he). And digital music or downloaded song will probably kill the creativity in creative industry such as music industry with the breeding of one hit wonder musician or even every artist will just release single rather than album (check my other blog here to read my rant about this).

"who wants 2 sing, I wanna be on TV"

And if this is the sign of time, the end of an era, I think it’s also the end of music industry, creatively, and proves that our music scene is bad compares to the old days. Well, I’m sick and tired with how people said that the music scenes nowadays aren’t as good as the good old days. How today’s musicians is just aiming for popularity or fame, not for the love of the music.

there's nothing good on 2003

I don’t know about this, but back in 2003 when Rolling Stone magazine put the Beatles on the cover, for a record that was recorded 30 years ago that somehow released today. It makes me think, “Am I the only one in this god-forsaken world who sick and tired of the Beatles?” (I know they’re good, but come on, enough of it) That moment is exactly told us that there is nothing going on in the world of music. It implies that the only good thing around is music from thousand of years ago or something.

They say that MTV change the music industry “Video killed the radio star” (we still listen to Radio right?), musician that once said, “listen to my music”, now said, “look at me, my style, my sexy curves, anything that marketable besides my music”, etc. They say they miss the good old day, the excitement of music, they said that if something become industry, it start to lose it magic, well hello, we all have to eat ya’ know, and music, just like everything else, is industry who feed millions of people. The only explanation to this is the fact that the “old day music” comes first, period. Today’s musician is labeled as copycat since there’s nothing left to do anymore. The pioneer takes em’ all and leave us with nothing left, or only little room to explore. And old music have the nostalgic value added that new music didn’t have yet.

Besides, there are a zillion bands out there, unlike “the good old days” when it’s hard just to put a record. D.I.Y. (do it your damn self), indie movement also becomes industry today. With zillion of band out there, it’s hard to be “different” or “outstanding”. And today the only “outstanding” left is some reality show like idol contest whose make everyone-wannabe superstar have access to the world of celebrity (easy come easy go), same just everything in this world.

And people said that today’s musician is shallow, in term of musicality and message that were told, except for Radiohead (OK I agree with Radiohead, but not the whole statement). Well we live in a very different world from the old geezer, what matters to us is different from what matter to them. They live in a post-war while we live in peace, of course there’s different values that we adores. They’re grumpy pessimistic bastard while we are a hedonist and crazy party go-er that even out-beat the flower generation.

They said that today’s musicians are not as idealist as they used to. What is idealist? To write a song that no one understands, or to write music just for themselves to enjoy, being indie not sell out? If you were a musician, you’d want your music to be listens by others, to spread your word to the public, and yes of course that won’t be available if you were indie, unless you’d sign with a big indie label with wide distribution option.

Hey don’t get me wrong. I know the feeling when my favorite band is become popular and all that newbie just start to sing their song, which probably just their single only, but come on! Maybe one of those newbie will be a militant fan like we are. The popularity of our favorite band will ensure the existence of their music, just like the legends, U2, Stones, etc. Indie or major, as long they create good music, a song that meant something for you, it’s enough for me, and maybe for you also.

So, though time already shows the end of an era, I refuse to accept that physical music is dead, that good music is dead. We all need to show some support to our favorite musician, to the good music that we love, hell when did the last time we buy a CD or a music album rather than just downloaded it for free? Please buy or show some respect to their works, watch their concert and prevent our music scene into a bad one by show the industry that there’s still a market for good music, idealistic music, indie music, any kind of music that is “good” and means a lot to me and to you.

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