“Anak Seni Kental”

Two messages appeared in one of my many WhatsApp groups today. One message read “orang2 freelance dah faham pasang surut” (freelancers already know how to deal with the high/low tides), and the other, “Insyallah.. anak seni kental” (God willing, creative people are tough).

Made me think of all my fellow creatives out there and wonder how all of them are doing? Why? Well, even as a so called ‘leader of industry’ myself, my family and I do not lead a ‘millionaire’s life’ nor do we harbour any thoughts of getting close to that, cos that’s never going to happen in our little Malaysian music industry. Even in the best of times, we are thankful and content that we can lead ‘comfortable’ lives, but so many are living a ‘day to day’ existence. My thoughts and prayers go out to them.

I recall back in the 90’s, my wife an I were facing a Chinese New Year with just enough money to buy 1 or 2 meals. Now, if you know anything about CNY, you should know that married couples are supposed to give out ‘ang-pows’ during this time. How-lah, we were BROKE?! So imagine our relief, when out of the blue, a music fan got in touch with us, and asked to buy 10 copies of my CDs?! We were overjoyed, cos that was the money that carried us through that year’s CNY. Good times! 

My point here is, most of us in the entertainment field do not have the volume and regularity of a fixed income. Friends from financial and corporate circles have often, with the best of intentions, advised us to come up with some financial plan, save up for a rainy day, and/or put aside some of our income for that thunderstorm. What they fail to understand is this. Imagine your last income was 2 months ago, and you are working on an album project (lasting 2 months) that will only pay next month? That’s a gap of 3-4 months. Meanwhile, there are rentals, loans, and miscellaneous payments that need your attention. Kinda like what everyone is feeling now during the MCO, right? A lot of non-creatives are feeling the ‘no work, no pay’ sensation, huh?

To be clear, I get no satisfaction when people are suffering. None at all! What I am trying to get across is this, please understand that for some of us in the ‘gig industry’, planning can be difficult. Most of us in the entertainment industry live modest lives and save up when we can. Anyone that knows me well knows I am not the ‘dapat duit, beli kereta baru’ type. And, don’t believe everything you see on Social Media, only a very few who post ‘everyday luxuries’ are living in luxury. Most are not. Don’t buy into that illusion, please.

Basically, just like the government is hoping that lifting the MCO will re-start the economy and get the money coming in, a lot of us creatives are just hoping that a new job/project comes along so we can earn our keep.

So, this is simply a post in order that people understand the plight of the entertainment scene, that’s all. To my fellow creatives… stay strong, stay healthy, and stay safe. Like the WhatsApp message says in the beginning of this article, ““Insyallah.. anak seni kental.”

Keep The Music Real!