Posted: 16 Jul 2012 08:54 PM PDT
Yuna, Lisa Surihani, Hujan, Zee Avi. Familiar names in the local entertainment industry of 2012. Back in the day (well, maybe just a couple of years back), any mention of a local artist would result in a "Huh? Who's that?" or a snide remark about how "hopeless" our local productions were.
A reversal of tides has slowly changed people's mindsets about our entertainment industry as some of our homegrown talents have even been making it internationally (such as MizzNina). The use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Instagram have all played a part in boosting this industry, helping artists gain support from their fellow Malaysians.
The rise of film shorts for example, has increased, with aspiring directors/filmmakers turning to YouTube as a foundational platform. Most of us might be familiar with Jin Lim (JinnyBoyTV), DJ of Hitz.fm's Party Show, who co-directed and co-produced the viral video "My Generasi" which received more than a million hits within its first four days.
Or how in just a month, Lisa Surihani, a Malaysian actress and director, received 2.1 million Likes on her Facebook page, a massive increase from her previous month's total of 41,000 Likes.
Does social media really aid local artists and the Malaysian entertainment industry in increasing fan support locally as well as globally?
To answer this, I spoke to two local performers to find out what they thought about the use of digital and social media in their industry.
When asked about the effectiveness of social media in elevating the standard of the local entertainment industry in Malaysia, Juwita Suwito, vocalist and former Malaysian Idol vocal coach agrees that social media is effective as it creates intimacy between the artist and their listeners.
She said, "Many music supporters like to know what's going on in the lives of their favorite artists," which is usually done through Tweets or Facebook postings.
Steve Leong, music producer and owner of Music Makers Production, added that, "Social media is a direct communication link to the consumer base. It is interactive and the interaction is almost instantaneous, reaching a wide audience."
He then goes on to agree that social media bypasses the restrictions of traditional media in addition to being negligible in terms of utilisation costs.
"It's a two-way communication and therefore information has to be analysed and directed to serve the demand of your fans," says Steve.
Michael advises users to forgo posting during inactive periods of time where fans and followers are not engaged, rather, posting updates during more active hours instead.
Steve also advises artists who are interested in venturing into the social media world to take advantage of the virtual personal connection with their individual fan bases.
One of the ways an artist can develop this is through the use of pictures. Juwita emphasises that visuals enhance fan interest as a picture is worth a thousand words.
Here's what some of our local artists are doing on their social media sites!
We all know our first Malaysian Idol winner who blew our ears away with her powerful vocals. Jaclyn has represented Malaysia in the first Asian Idol and has performed all over Malaysia, winning various awards such as the Best Vocal award in 2008 during the annual Anugerah Juara Lagu (Best Song) Awards in KL, Malaysia.
With over 61 thousand Likes, Jaclyn uses her Facebook Page to speak to her Malaysian fans in rojak- (combination) style English and Bahasa Melayu. Jaclyn's Facebook Page consists of postings about her performances, updates on her shows and the like.
What wins the heart of her fans is how transparent and real Jaclyn is in her postings. Her updates are sometimes personal with prayers, life lessons and personal greetings such as a "Gooood morrning!" at the start of the day.
Artists like Jaclyn also up the ante by sharing and posting links of other artists. They also share items of interest that interest them as individuals.
This 25-year old Malaysian singer-songwriter began her singing career through MySpace in 2006 which eventually led her to release her debut EP, Decorate by FADER in 2011. She's just released her first single entitled, "Live Your Life" from her upcoming self-titled album.
With over a million Likes, Yuna uses her Facebook Page to share previews of her songs through Sound Cloud which fans can listen to for free.
Yuna shows her life just as it is by sharing pictures of herself, friends and places she's visited on Instagram.
You might have heard of Kantoi, one of 25-year old Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi's first big hits. Zee started out posting videos of her singing on YouTube for friends who had missed her live performances. Her fame escalated as more and more people discovered the soulful singer with the quirky lyrics and cute ukelele. All this exposure later resulted in her being discovered by Patrick Keeler of The Raconteurs.
With over 7 million subscribers, Zee uses her YouTube channel to upload covers and personal shout-outs to her fans all around the world.
Like other artists, she also uses Twitter and Facebook to post pictures of her day-to-day happenings, links to her tumblr blog and more.
Zee uses her Twitter account to post inspirational quotes about lessons in life besides the usual re-tweets and shout-outs to her fans.
Other artists like Hujan, a local rock band, engage users by calling fans "raingers" (which relates to their band name) on Twitter and Facebook.
To sum it up, fans are drawn to current, personal and consistent updates, leveraging the curiosity that draws fans to their favourite local celebrity. Celebrities who do succeed in connecting to their fans via social media are then rewarded with Likes, shares, retweets, and in the long run, a community of engaged fans who would be more willing to spend money on music, concert tickets, merchandise and more.
So does social media boost the Malaysian entertainment industry?
Without a shadow of a doubt.
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