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International artists play a prominent role in Malaysia’s music scene, says Para Rajagopal, owner of PR Worldwide Live. His company and Live Nation joined forces in 2019 to create Live Nation Malaysia, of which Rajagopal is the managing director. It has promoted shows for Billie Eilish and Blackpink and welcomes Coldplay and Joji later this year.
Other prominent promoters in Malaysia, which often operate across Southeast Asia, include Milestone Production, Galaxy Group, AC Music Entertainment, RK Live Asia, and Star Planet.
Malaysia made international headlines this year with the cancellation of Future Sound Asia’s Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur. The three-day festival, scheduled to be headlined by The 1975, The Kid Laroi, and The Strokes, was cancelled after day one after lead singer Matty Healy’s on-stage public criticism of the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws and a kiss between him and bassist Ross MacDonald. The festival is seeking damages from the band over the incident.
“They have used music and concerts as an agenda because they understand the power of music.”
Politicians and religious leaders have been outspoken about the role of international musicians in the domestic scene. In August 2022, the Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) called for a ban on concerts featuring non-domestic artists after railing against Eilish’s Kuala Lumpur show. The government then announced it would implement new concert guidelines to account for local “sensitivities,” however the PAS has called for Coldplay’s November show at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium to be cancelled.
“They have used music and concerts as an agenda because they understand the power of music,” says Rajagopal. But he insists that live shows are welcomed by the domestic population.
“Most Malaysians, including Islamic believers, all love to go to a live event,” he says. “As long as you understand the culture and the sensitivities of the country, we are more than happy to welcome you to perform in Malaysia.”