It’s not just the live business that’s been impacted, it’s a lot of partnership/brand money. There’s been a decline across the board, I would say. It’s been challenging, and it remains slightly challenged. Certainly, the recorded music stuff for us is steady, but everything else really was hit hard. So as an organization, we’ve had to make a lot of adjustments multiple times throughout the last year, just in the way that we’re operating. Like amount of money we spend on, say, a song or marketing or a music video. With staffing, we’re looking at the organization, trying to optimize as much as possible.
We definitely will [move forward with an international edition of the Head in the Clouds festival]. With the Indonesia festival specifically, we’re always inquiring about when we might be able to do it, but there’s still no date in sight, so it certainly won’t be this year. I would hope that it happens next year, but it’s totally TBD. I do think that the U.S. version of the festival will be first before any other country, so it’s something that we’re working on for this year.
There’s a lot that we’re focusing on from an AAPI perspective right now. It’s obviously something that’s really important to us, but we feel like we have a very specific role that we can play, especially using music. We’re seeing how we can, first of all, just give the proper awareness, but then also have a lot of actionable initiatives where the audience can participate with us to support certain organizations.
The AAPI movement is very important. There’s a lot of storytelling, just by merit of a lot of people speaking out. It broadens the conversation to telling the story of our ancestors coming here, which is a story that’s not really I think even understood amongst many Asian-Americans. A lot of learning can happen from all people about the Asian-American experience, and I think that’s happening. Like with anything, there might be more backlash and more danger, and that’s kind of the climate right now. But I think that there’s way more good that will come from this.
Just Asian people coming together and having solidarity is important, and it’s something that I haven’t seen to this degree in my life. That's the really important part, and that’s something that’s incredible to see, because that also hasn’t happened and something that I haven’t seen to this degree ever. You just hope that ultimately the world is coming closer together. That’s hopefully gonna be the outcome of all of it.
Before even talking about policy, I think that infrastructure awareness, even down to the local level, is really important. Because that’s where one-to-one people can be supported and helped: Organizations, the elderly, small businesses. The more that AAPI people understand that these resources exist, that these programs are in place, that’s super important. On the policy level, hate crimes shouldn’t be tolerated. The punishment should be incredibly severe for anybody who does these things. That’s just one part of it.
One thing that I think would be very powerful, and it’s happening, is the music and artist community rallying and supporting the AAPI community. Music can really be used to bring people together, and that’s something that we’ve always done since day one. It’s just very natural for us. I think that more and more of that should consistently be happening.
We’ve been putting together a benefit event for May, and I think it’s gonna be really powerful because it has all kinds of people participating to really get behind and support. There’s certainly gonna be a lot of music performances, but we’re giving the platform to a lot of activists, writers, actors, actresses, people that can speak and have a strong passion and point of view.
The Asian Mental Health Collective, they're one of the organizations that we're gonna have speak. They’re basically a database of [AAPI] therapists across the United States. Mental health right now is critical. A lot of Asian-American young people especially, they don’t even know how to obtain therapy or about the power of the ability to speak to somebody -- especially speak to somebody that is Asian-American just like them. So we’re building a campaign with them to show what the process is of therapy and how effective it can be.
As told to Chris Eggertsen.