IMS Asia-Pacific: Spotlight On Malaysia

9 November 2015

Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Population: Over 30 million

Malaysia is a multifaceted country with so much to offer. Split into two parts, the country is a cherished balance of tropical Asian jungles and wildlife and the expansive growing cityscapes of Kuala Lumpur. Like much of Asia-Pacific, Malaysia is a unique melting pot of surrounding cultures – of food, history, arts and more – creating something special all of its own.

Still a young, emerging market, Malaysia is quickly joining the ranks of other Asian-Pacific regions in terms of electronic music. The region showed immense interest in electronic music early on, allowing Future Music Festival Asia to become one of the largest electronic music festivals in the market from its inception in 2012. Tickets grew from 15,000 to 85,000 within three years until a string of drug-related deaths and hundreds of arrests caused the Malaysian government to halt the festivals and large-scale events in order to reevaluate how to approach the growing phenomenon in relation to the country’s drug policies.

Major Music Festivals:

Future Music Festival Asia (Cancelled 2015)
Heineken Thirst (Cancelled 2015)
Life in Color (Cancelled 2014)

Major Nightclubs:

Zouk Club Malaysia
Play Club

Malaysian Talents:

Goldfish & Blink
Eva T

Legal concerns:

Extensive process to gain approval from PUSPAL for event and artist approval
Strict drug policy

Still, Malaysian electronic music continues to thrive through the busy nightlife scene. Major nightclubs like Zouk and Play Club draw in global electronic music talents to the country. A majority of the audience in Malaysia are interested in commercial electronic music, or what would usually be categorized as EDM. Some subgenres like trance and house still retain a following in Malaysia, but since the EDM explosion in the West, the country has also mainly followed suit.

Though Malaysia may no longer play host to any large-scale music festivals, the interest and potential remains. Nearby festivals like Ultra Music Festival in Korea or Bali and ZoukOut in Singapore close options for the surfacing electronic music audience in Malaysia. Though none have yet to break the international barrier, the country continues to output up-and-coming talent like Goldfish & Blink and Eva T which were showcased alongside global talents during Malaysia’s previous music festival editions.


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