Arif Ramly manages bands the likes of Tenderfist and They Will Kill Us All, two names that are a part of every local music fan’s vocabulary (provided they actually care about the scene to begin with). Other than providing these bands with administration services, he moonlights as Frames & Vinyls Music’s Project Manager and The Wknd’s International Liaison Manager on a project basis — if there ever were someone who knew a thing or two about making it in KL, JUICE wagers it’s him.
As I’m writing this article, I’m still stuck in the moment as I don’t know where to begin with. As you have already known, KL has a lot to offer when it comes to musicians or artistes. Why KL? It’s because of the location that matters the most. You can find bands that are not from KL playing in KL, those bands are from different parts of Malaysia such as Ipoh, Melaka or even Kuching just to name a few. But KL is the destination point to be where you can find different kind of music in a small event or perhaps a festival.
Yet the music scene in KL is not big at all. We may know each other by sharing the same stage with one another. We even go to the same event where our friends from different bands will be playing with other bands that have played with us before. Therefore, we are connected. We can suggest some bands that deserve to play for a particular event if we feel that we have played for the same event for the past 3 years. We can’t simply put the blame on the organisers for not knowing which bands they should consider to put into the lineup, they don’t know any other bands like we do (as we’d experienced playing with them first hand). In other words, we can educate them by acting as sort of a scene curator, suggesting bands that deserve to play in our opinion. So we help other bands by promoting them and hopefully they will do the same too, it’s a symbiotic cycle.
In my personal opinion, there should be a team behind every band. I don’t know. It depends on the band itself. If they feel that they don’t have enough time to do the administration duties, get someone to do it [ed’s note: get Arif!]. If you feel that you need help on stage or preparing your gears before you get on stage, then get someone to help you. The reason behind this is simple, we are not robots, and we can’t do all the things by ourselves. If you can do it all alone, oh Lord, you are amazing (and I’d be out of job).
When the organiser asks your band to play at any event or gig, the most common question that we may ask is the payment that we will get from them after playing at their show. Well, it’s normal, subjective and it depends on you guys, really. Nowadays the word exposure is overrated. You can get more money by selling your stuff/merchandise at the venue but you will get a small payment from the organiser. Alternatively, you will get a big payment from the organiser but you can’t sell your stuff at the venue. Sometimes, it’s not about the money, it’s about the reachability of your music to the new followers. For example, if you haven’t been to this place and one day a promoter asks you to play there, you may reject the offer for not knowing what will happen to you if you play at the yet to be proven place. But if you think it again, you might receive a positive response from the audience if they like your music, what makes you stop playing music then?
There are a lot of things to consider on how to make it in KL as an artiste. Those points mentioned above are based on my observation for the past few years. The most important thing here is for you to have faith in your music. Don’t be shy to share your music with others. Some may like it and some may not and it’s normal. I’d be happy to write more things focusing on this topic but maybe I will continue writing in the future if everything goes well with my management. Till then, thank you.