How Dangdut Should be Marketed To Broader Audience

There always a place for dangdut music in the heart of Indonesians. Whether it is old and young, both rich and poor. Today, the terms that labeled dangdut as corny music seems no longer valid.

Indeed, the level of how the Indonesians consuming dangdut music is different. For example, the lower class who lives outside the big cities will be comfortable enjoying the typical dangdut koplo with the unique sounds of the drum, and the chants from the MC. While the upper class will prefer dangdut music that has modern ambiance, so when they listened this isn’t classified as corny.

However, whatever song and social class you belong to, when dangdut is played, you can’t resist the feeling of dancing. At least fingers will move following the tune.

Still, remember the opening ceremony of Asian Games 2018? President Joko Widodo spotted while attending the opening of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, cannot resist the feelings to dance. Even though he still seemed to hold him back. As a result, his paddle jog dance becomes viral in one night.

Asian Games is a proof that dangdut isn’t only Indonesia’s national cultural, but the momentum of the Dangdut music to scale up. Via Vallen -a most famous dangdut singer in this country nowadays- was lined up as the lead singer to perform the Asian Games theme song, Meraih Bintang. Via Vallen brought a modern dangdut vibe and arrangement from Meraih Bintang on the big stage.

The government seems to have realized that this the time for dangdut to be marketed to a broader audience. Not only in Malaysia, Singapore, Japan or Hong Kong. The government through the Badan Ekonomi Kreatif looks at the vast land across the ocean, the United States.

The South by Southwest (SXSW) event which will be held in March 2019 in Austin, Texas, will be the first official attempts to marketing dangdut to a broader audience. The government brought a collective called Hello Dangdut.

Hello Dangdut is under the hands of David Tarigan, a music activist and founder of the Irama Nusantara. David acknowledged that at this time he and Bekraf were still looking for the suitable format and genre that would be carried out at SXSW.

Each dangdut genre has its own characteristics. Dangdut era of the 1970s for example, this genre usually spotted on several dangdut clubs in big cities. According to David, this one genre has a unique style and appearance, such as the singer who took the stage in turn followed by an MC that gave a distinctive nickname to each singer.

“Things like this must be introduced. Even the Gerobak Dangdut also has special characteristics and fans. For me these such formats can be brought to SXSW,” explained David.

For music fans in the United States, dangdut is not really new. Music fans or who can be called hipsters are already familiar with dangdut music. Their introduction began with several releases of Indonesian rock music in the 1970s, which were re-released by several independent labels in vinyl format.

For example in 2011, a compilation entitled Those Shocking Shaking Days (Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk: 1970–1978) was released by the Now Again Records label. In the compilation of various genre such as funk, soul, hard rock, until dangdut is included in it. This compilation has become a new era for hipsters in exploring Indonesian music more deeply.

After Those Shocking Shaking Days, several releases from Koes Bersaudara, Koes Plus, AKA, Dara Puspita, Shark Move, and The Gang of Harry Roseli were re-produced by overseas record labels.

“These labels are a small door for us to penetrate dangdut in the USA.”

The impact of this dangdut music for David will be difficult to predict. But he saw the potential that dangdut would become one of the music genres that would be noticed, just like funk and soul.

A$AP Rocky with Kanye West in 2016 released a song called Jukebox Joint. In this song, there are pieces of samples from a song belonging to the Indonesian music group, Rasela.

“Hip-hop music likes to do sampling from other music. They are looking for a different break and beat. Sampling is just one of the many potential possibilities of dangdut in the era to come.”

Business and Technology Writer