Virtual music festivals attract broader global audience

(From left) Sarawak Tourism Board chairman Dennis Ngau, Abdul Karim and virtual experience host Datin Dona Drury Wee in a pre-recorded segment of the BJF.

THE Borneo Jazz Festival (BJF) succeeded in reaching a bigger audience around the world by going online at this year’s edition.

In total, over 116,000 online viewers from 33 countries logged on to the BJF website and social media platforms to watch the virtual event from June 25 to 27.

State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said BJF had helped to raise Miri’s profile as the northern gateway to Sarawak since its inception 16 years ago.

“Now, we are proud to see that it has found its way to a much broader audience and provided Sarawakian musicians an even bigger platform for their artistry to be recognised around the world.

“The increased participation and element of online engagement we received for BJF 2021 has given us a new baseline and will help us better gauge how we can best develop next year’s edition, which will be held from June 24 to 26,” he said.

Themed “Borneo Jazz Memories: A Virtual Journey”, this year’s BJF featured Sarawakian artistes performing in pre-recorded sessions

in between exclusive interviews with jazz veterans such as Singapore’s king of swing Jeremy Monteiro, Dave Brewer of Dave and the Doodaddies and renowned blues musician John Hammond.

Meanwhile, this year’s Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), also held virtually, attracted 140,000 viewers from 80 countries on its official website and social media platforms.

“The number of viewers is a testament to how well-loved both these events are.

“We are happy to be able to reach out to fans of both festivals and we hope to see the end of the pandemic soon so that we can bring more value-added entertainment to festival-goers,” Abdul Karim said.

He added that next year’s RWMF, tentatively scheduled to be held from June 17 to 19, would be a meaningful one as the festival would be celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Besides being streamed on their respective websites, this year’s BJF and RWMF were also shown on Sarawak’s television channel TVS and e-commerce partner Shopee Live.

An official store was opened on Shopee featuring event merchandise from BJF and RWMF, while viewers could order food via the events’ official delivery partner GrabFood.

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