Do you remember the first concert or festival you went to? Well, Christian Rijanto, co-founder of Ismaya Live, remembers the first show he'd ever produced.
Together with Bram Hendrata and Brian Sutanto, Christian lit the spark that would, later on, bring the biggest and hottest concerts to ever hit Jakarta. From shows featuring names like Katy Perry, HONNE, Calvin Harris, The Weeknd, to Troye Sivan, Ismaya Live led the charge of massive festivals We The Fest and Djakarta Warehouse Project in Indonesia. Their presence in the entertainment industry raised the bar and crowd expectations as to what an unforgettable show could and should be.
Bandwagon picked the brain of Christian and talked about how he got into event production, what fans can expect at the first digital edition of We The Fest (this year's virtual edition features the likes of Oh Wonder, Masego, RAC, and Lewis Capaldi), and the ongoing pandemic's effects on the entertainment industry.
How did Ismaya Live get started? Talk about the first show you produced. What was the experience like?
The first outdoor event we produced was BWP (Blowfish Warehouse Project) but it was still like an extension of a club mini-festival since we started our group with running club venues.
The first Ismaya Live show we produced was one of my favourite electronic bands at the time which was Cut Copy. I told myself, we are taking a risk doing our first real live concert but if we had to lose money and learn, at least it will be worth it since I love the band so much.
We The Fest's first edition in 2014
How have things been so far with Ismaya Live during the Pandemic? Besides being unable to put up physical shows these days, what other struggles are you facing?
It's bad for Ismaya Live just like everyone else, especially in the live entertainment industry. We had to cancel some confirmed shows and also our annual big festival We The Fest and Djakarta Warehouse Project.
The struggles are many, but mainly having to cancel shows and disappoint all of our ticket buyers as well as finding ways to keep paying all of our staff in the company without any income coming in during the pandemic. But after stepping back a few months to regroup, our team has shown the amazing resiliency to bounce back to come up with the virtual edition of We The Fest which will happen over 2 days in September as well as a drive-in music festival in October.
With this new project, again we are facing the challenge of learning the business all over again as we move into the digital world but over the past 2 months, I think the team has shown tremendous growth in learning and it will be shown in this new digital festival experience we are creating. It's definitely something totally unique for the industry in our region of the world.
We The Fest's Christian Rijanto with Indonesian president Joko Widodo at WTF 2018
Moving events online seems the natural course these days, considering the physical limitations we have with the ongoing pandemic. What kinds of shows and projects do you plan on setting up in the virtual platform? Can we look forward to an online edition of DWP Jakarta as well?
Other than WTF, yes DWP is being planned to moved online as well with a totally new virtual experience. We are working super hard to show to everyone that once again Indonesian-made branded experience can compete with the best of the world has to offer.
With the steadily increasing number of virtual shows across the globe, why should fans tune in to the virtual edition of We The Fest? We’ve always had a great time at WTF, how does Ismaya Live plan to recreate that kind of festival experience online?
Because it will be a totally new experience that is tailored to the DNA of the WTF brand itself. Our approach in creating the festival has always been part of the culture of the company and the brand, and therefore what we will show in WTF will definitely be special and different than what other people are offering.
How did you choose the artists for this year’s lineup?
We worked with many of the artists that have been confirmed for the original offline festival as well as many artists that we love to have as usual. Lots of great names will join this virtual edition of WTF.
How important is production value in a virtual festival?
Extremely important. We always believe our production is part of what makes our festival experiences truly unique to everyone else. Since other promoters can always book the same artists, but we believe the true festival production experience is what captures our hearts and minds of our fans and makes them loyal to WTF.
What are the 3 things that fans should look forward to at this year’s WTF?
- Discovering the new-normal virtual experience being redefined in the WTF way.
- The curated lineup of the artist performing
- The positive messages all of us trying to bring to our customers (and the world) so they can deal with their daily challenges during this pandemic era.
There are numerous efforts in Asia to put up socially-distant concerts - like tuk-tuk drive-ins in Bangkok, drive-in concerts in Jakarta. Will Ismaya Live be venturing into these possibilities as well for your other events?
Yes, we will be doing our first drive-in festival in October.
Aside from ticket sales, how do you know your show is a success?
We usually measure by the smiles (and tears) that people show during the event as well as the feedback from our true loyal customers through social media.
With WTF moving online, what kind of audience are you looking to reach this time around?
A similar audience but with a bigger reach as online [events] has no geographical boundary.
Besides the obvious effects the pandemic has had on the entertainment industry, what would you say is the silver lining to it all?
Every crisis leads to an opportunity for people, companies, and brands to discover a new way of learning and doing business to create a new standard and leadership in the industry.
Get ready for We The Fest 2020: Virtual Home Edition with this playlist:
We The Fest 2020: Virtual Home Edition is happening on September 26 and 27. Register here to watch the show.