Hit hard by the first MCO, musicians tell Putrajaya to please listen to them.
PETALING JAYA: When the movement control order was first announced in March last year, Mazli Hasan decided to stream his performances on Facebook. He needed to earn an income.
The SOPs put in place under the movement restrictions meant he could not perform at pubs or at events or even busk.
Mazli’s Facebook music managed to attract 3,000 viewers but it did not translate into enough ringgit and sen.
“I managed to get only RM40. I could only afford cigarettes,” he told FMT.
And the sum was certainly not enough to pay his landlord, to whom he already owes four months’ rent.
It has been hard for Mazli. Which is why he and other professional musicians are looking at bleakness once again, with MCO 2.0 now on.
Last year, FMT reported that some pub performers lost up to RM20,000 following the first MCO to curb the spread of Covid-19.
It’s a situation to which there seems to be no answer but Mazli feels the problem is in the SOPs, or the absence of one. But then, so is the solution.
SOPs, Mazli argues, cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” and the government should engage stakeholders for a win-win solution.
“We can work around SOPs and we want to work. Something is better than nothing. And if SOPs can be created for restaurants and factories, why not us.”
The Malaysian Artistes’ Association (Karyawan) had submitted its recommendations last year to the government. No reply has been forthcoming.
Jazz singer Eddie Zachariah described MCO 2.0 as “another sucker punch for all of us in the industry”.
As it is, he has had six events cancelled between October and December because of the extended movement restrictions, while the aid the government has been promising has not reached the musicians and performers in the club circuit.
Neither are they allowed to livestream their performances to pubs from studios, an initiative that could earn them a small fee so they can survive.
“They still sent me my income tax bill to pay in October. Talk about being kicked when you’re down.”
Most of the musicians, he warned, would not be able to sustain or endure these restrictions any more with many “at their wits end”.
It doesn’t help that Putrajaya has not actually engaged with them or listened to their plight.
“The government has to be aware of our predicament and to be proactive to find ways to keep the live music industry alive.”
He was also puzzled over the fact the musicians were not allowed to perform when the government green lit karaokes, barbers, spas, pubs, hotels and restaurants to resume operations previously.
“Why can’t they allow at least a soloist or a two-piece band? If they could allow 30-40 patrons in, what is wrong with having one or two performers who are on stage, away from the crowd?”
Jude Singho has been without income for 10 months. So, the latest round of movement restrictions is of “no difference”.
“There’s nothing to look forward to and this is a group that does not receive anything at all from the government.
“We are really suffering and it’s even worse for musicians who have yet to establish themselves in the scene.”
Jude, who is part of Os Pombos, a six-piece band that celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, is now hoping for two things.
One, is for corporate companies to lend a helping hand by hiring full-time musicians for events, and two, for the government to give these professionals a grant.
Jude said only a handful of musicians were able to do part-time jobs, including selling food.
He said people failed to see that they are professionals who work and trained for many years to make it in the market.
“Now, we are at the tail end of our businesses and the market is not getting any better.”