Adrian Yap: This All Just Feels So… Familiar

source: Urbanscapes

Malaysian festgoers’ favourite pastime, apart from expecting free passes to events (featuring international acts they claim to be big fans of), is to whinge about the festival they’ve finally gotten free passes to. They’ve never really thought about what goes on behind the scene… until now that is. The man behind Urbanscapes, Adrian Yap, pens this month’s Last Word as he scrambles to get the festival up and running – seeing parallels between organising an event and the industry he left behind in the process.

The neighbour’s rooster has just crowed and the distinct sound of the Azan can be heard from the mosque down the street. And I, I have just finished replying the bulk of emails accumulated through the course of the day. Piled up over the course of the day, like a long list of FB comments requesting for other acts, when a promoter announces a totally different act.

While I could do with a serious 15-hour sleep session now, after frequent justified chasers and reminders I think I better start working on this much-delayed article (sorry for the tardiness, JUICE editorial team!).  This is just beginning to feel eerily familiar, did I not get out of the media business like 3 years ago? Done with publishing deadlines, all-night scrambles to put an issue to bed, and maybe on the positive side – the media perks.

Since I couldn’t really come out with anything profound, I’ve decided to come up with a fun list instead.

Guilt angle
There are two types of performers; those who accept that there is a curation/editorial process involved in putting a fest/publication together, and there are those who pull the guilt trip card when faced with rejection. “How can you not add us on to the line-up or write about us? You should be supporting the local scene! Sell out lah, featuring all these foreign acts.”

Sorry, the last I checked, the criteria should be the quality of the work, not where it comes from.

Vendor requests are like PR pitches
For every “can you add us to your vendor list?”, see “can you do a write-up about our service/product/person?” Now multiply that ten-fold across emails, texts and calls.


Getting ad ringgit is hard (and funny), regardless of the industry*
“You guys are 5 months away, there’s still plenty of time. Don’t worry, come back later.”

“Oh too tight now, there’s not enough time to plan, see us earlier next year.”

“This is perfect for our direction, I see so much potential.” Two weeks later, “Sorry, we have to pull back the campaign, change of direction.”


Everything should be free!
Got any free tickets?
Got free-flow?
Got free movie screening?
Got goodie bags?
Why not?

Managing the unreasonable expectations of readers and fest-goers. Same-same and no different.

The case of the disappearing intern/volunteers
Like most publication, we rely on the help of thankless interns. But out of the many helpful ones, there are always those who are never to be found during working hours, but the first in line for the goodie bags and free booze at ALL media events.

At Urbanscapes, we’ve had volunteers who reported for duty, took a toilet break, and never came back. When spotted after, they would make a dash. It was like we were on an African safari, looking out for AWOL volunteers in place of the Big Five. I kid you not.

Dedicated to all my fellow media and festival industry folks.

*Our awesome sponsors and partners never indulge in such conversations. True!