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Indonesia emerging as launchpad for online global stardom

Written by Nikkei Asia Published on   4 mins read

The fourth-largest Internet population offers opportunities for Web-focused performers.

The entertainment and sports industries are paying growing attention to Indonesia, a country that boasts the world’s fourth-largest population of 270 million, as a large and vibrant digital content market.

Indonesia’s massive pool of online content consumers has the power to generate explosive growth in social media followers and online video views. Content providers in many countries are prioritizing the Indonesian market in their global marketing and branding strategies.

“In Indonesia, explosive trends often emerge among net users that push up the digital values of artists,” observed a manager at a major advertising agency in charge of promoting Japanese content in Indonesia.

This view has been borne out by the meteoric rise to stardom of a 17-year-old blind Indonesian girl singer. As she performed in America’s Got Talent, the world-famous talent show competition, Putri Ariani mesmerized both the audience and judges by crooning a ballad in a smooth and powerful voice. The brilliant and emotional performance earned her the “Golden Buzzer” from a judge, which means two thumbs-up.

The video showing her performance in the show, released on YouTube on June 7, quickly went viral, receiving over 10 million views in just one day.

As the video racked up views in Indonesia, being cited as “trending,” it also became a big YouTube hit in other countries in Southeast Asia as well as in the Middle East, North America and other regions. As of June 21, the video had been viewed over 38 million times, with the number of views growing at the fastest pace in the history of the popular program.

Putri became a celebrity overnight and was invited by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to the presidential palace in Jakarta on June 14. Her original song “Loneliness,” which she sang on the TV show, became the third most viral song on Spotify, in terms of being most frequently shared to social platforms from the music streaming service, in Indonesia as of June 21, and 10th globally.

In her home country, expectations are growing that Putri’s dream — winning a Grammy Award — will come true before long.

Indonesia’s energetic internet community has also helped promote some Japanese content globally. “Mayonaka no Door (Stay with Me),” the debut single by Japanese singer Miki Matsubara (1959-2004), saw a surprising resurgence in popularity after Rainych Ran, better known as Rainych, an Indonesian singer and YouTuber, uploaded a video of her cover of the song in October 2020. It is said that this video triggered a global wave of popularity of so-called Japanese “city pop,” Japanese pop music with an “urban feel” that emerged in the late 1970s and peaked in popularity during the 1980s.

According to Spotify, the Japanese artist’s song that was the most streamed overseas in 2022 was Fujii Kaze’s “Shinunoga E-wa”. Indonesia was the fourth among the countries where the song was the most streamed. Due partly to his popularity in the country, Fujii is now set to go on an Asian tour including Indonesia. “Japanese artists put a priority on Indonesia in their marketing,” said the ad agency executive.

Indonesia has a digital population of 212.9 million, the fourth largest after China, India and the US, according to Statista, a German data provider. According to “Digital 2023,” a report on the global digital economy compiled by WeAreSocial, a British market research firm, and others, Indonesian net users spend 7 hours and 42 minutes on the internet on average per day, more than their peers in China, India or the US.

Indonesia has a huge population of net users who spend a lot of time on the web. This makes the country a digital hot spot that tends to create many big online trends like viral YouTube videos.

The sports business also has a keen interest in Indonesia’s power to generate massive waves of attention and interest on the web. After Tokyo Verdy, a soccer club in the J2 League — the second division of the Japan Professional Football League (J. League) — signed Indonesian defender Pratama Arhan in February 2022, the number of the club’s official Instagram followers soared some tenfold to surpass 285,000 fans. Many of the new followers are believed to be in Indonesia.

Indonesia is also an important market for South Korea, a global cultural powerhouse. Indonesia was ranked third in terms of the share of K-Pop views on YouTube.

Despite its enormous net population, however, Indonesia is not yet a lucrative market due to low ad fees. Net-focused businesses are waiting eagerly for a further rise in income levels in the country.

This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It has been republished here as part of 36Kr’s ongoing partnership with Nikkei.


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