INF In-Game Club: How Indonesian Netaudio Activists Initiate Collaboration and Gather Solidarity in the COVID-19 Era
Indonesia Netaudio Forum (INF, previously known as Indonesia Netlabel Union) is a community of netlabel owners and supporters based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They have been making their own offline and online events in Indonesia since 2012.
The community of netlabels is still small in Indonesia, with roughly 20 netlabels, with some being more active than others. While not all of them use Creative Commons licenses, they share the value and goals of making musical content free and accessible for every Internet user.
The pandemic is affecting almost every aspect of everyone’s life, and that includes businesses. Businesses are dragged by the situation to be more creative for their own survival, and this includes artists in Indonesia. Some of them are starting to sell non-artwork products like culinary products (food, traditional drinks, etc), furniture, plants, and other kinds of things. At the same time, some of them are also joining forces with other community representatives building solidarity for food welfare and initiating planting movements around their domicile. The era of COVID-19 also affected the Indonesia Netaudio Festival, who can’t continue their biannual gathering like they usually do (the last festival was held in 2018).
Responding to these issues, INF is trying to make a platform that can facilitate performing music concerts, while becoming a hub for any community member to promote their efforts during the pandemic. These ideas lead them to organize a virtual meeting space that enables audiences to access musical content while connecting them to become supporters for efforts promoted in the event.
SWGBBO (a derivative version of an open source video game, Habbo Hotel) is the platform chosen to execute the event. This video game gives the users the ability to build and design rooms and then invite people to visit it while listening to music played (streamed through Twitch) by the room owners. Using SWGBBO, INF is able to build a virtual version of clubbing activities where people can hang out, chat, and dance to the music selected by the performers using their own unique avatar to represent their virtual appearance (no physical distancing needed when attendees are represented as game avatars). That’s why INF chose “INF IN-Game Club” as their event title this year.
To manifest it function as an “effort hub”, INF In-Game Club promotes efforts made by community members, the participants of the event need to visit idnf.club before logging in to the game. In that website, they can scroll up and down to see products promoted (the products are gathered by submission from the product owners) by the event. INF also invites Yayasan Tonjo Foundation members as event’s heralds to promote lists of advertorial and announce quizzes during the event. Yayasan Tonjo Foundation is an artist collective project supported by Biennale Jogja’s Karya Normal Baru’s effort that aims to deliver aid for their audience members through conceptual-performative art style, online.
The music event venue consists of outdoor and indoor stages. There’s also another room, a small one, that functions as an ‘after party’ session facility. The artistic aspects of the room are all designed by Irindita Laras Putri, an artist/graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. “INF Garden” facilitates the outdoor stage vibes needs, then there’s “INF Diskotek” run it’s function for indoor stages necessities, and “Perky Chamber” is where all the ‘after party’ related activities are dealt with. INF In-Game Club invites 15 performers and each of them performing in rooms considered to match with their musical vibes.
Some of the performers are names that are no longer considered as ‘alien’ in the netlabel and/or open source music scene in Indonesia. Rabu, Gabber Modus Operandi, and Sundancer are some of those performers that you can find their music online tagged with CC license. To make this show more interesting, all of the performers are also represented with their own unique-self made avatar and be present on each stage provided in each room. Rabu’s performance also became a highlight for this show because it’s actually their first “live” comeback after being on hiatus for the last two years.
The event was attended by around 300 virtual attendees, making the game go down and forcing all of its users (including the event committee) to only listen to the streamed audio through INF’s twitch channel. Around 30 minutes after that, the admin for the game helped INF save the day by fixing the bugs causing the game error. All the attendees then continue their virtual in-game party until around 3 AM in the morning. By making this event, INF also successfully gathered unexpected amount of donations . These donations are being used to cover the expenses on the event production and to continue their cause, which is supporting free and open online music sharing in Indonesia.