Most of the time when a major brand decides to organise a music event, the emphasis is to bring in international artistes, rather than focus on Malaysian ones.
Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see this year’s Guinness Amplify 2016 put the focus on building up the local music industry and giving Malaysian musicians a chance to learn and develop their art instead.
Nick Larkworthy, Heineken Malaysia’s marketing manager for Guinness, said in a press statement that the objective of Guinness Amplify since its inception in 2014 has always been to support the local music scene.
While in its first year, the campaign ended with a performance by Canadian band Magic!, this year, the brand decided to eschew the international acts and put its faith in the quality of Malaysian musicians.
“This year, we wanted to do more than simply hosting shows – we wanted to offer something of real value to our artists,” said Larkworthy in a press release.
Guinness Amplify 2016 began in August with the launch of Amplify FM, an online radio station that only plays music by local artistes, available on www.amplify.com.my. This was followed by the Amplify Live Tour – four consecutive weeks of live gigs in Johor, Penang, Perak and the Klang Valley.
The two-day finale held recently in Kuala Lumpur saw a low-key but somehow much more fulfilling programme that featured workshops and talks by big names in the international and local music industry, a “pop-up” recording studio, and a finale concert headlined by some of Malaysia’s best bands.
The first day saw a a pop-studio where 12 up-and-coming local acts were given a chance to record a song each, and receive a professionally-mastered copy of their song. Out of the 12, one – KL alternative rock band Manners Maketh Man – was selected to record an EP, funded by Guinness.
Day Two saw a full lineup of talks, workshops, and masterclasses aimed at helping aspiring musicians perfect their craft and take it to the next level.
The topics ranged from home recording and production and music publishing to marketing music on social media. Speaker included Ben Willis (the artiste manager responsible for bringing Yuna to the world stage), producer and engineer Anna Laverty (who has worked with Lady Gaga, Nick Cave and Bloc Party) and Australian producer JP Fung.
For those who wanted to hone their musical skills further, there were also hands-on masterclass sessions with local legends such as guitarist Rithan and drummer Jimmy Jamz.
Of course, what is a music event without performances? During the day, Talitha Tan, Fazz and Saturday Afternoon performed a chillout set. The finale in the evening was a true celebration of Malaysian acts.
Opening with the old-school rock and roll of GTXperiment, the evening proceeded to Amplify mainstays Paperplane Pursuit, and culminated with a typically rocking show by Kyoto Protocol.
Sure, without any international acts to hype up the event, Guinness Amplify 2016 was a much more low-key affair than usual. But it’s still heartening to see Malaysian music being given the spotlight for once.