If you’ve ever hesitated about heading overseas for a music festival or gig due to harrowing logistics and the madness of planning, you’re not alone. Thankfully, with Gig Life Asia, those issues might no longer be a problem of the past. Launched in 2015 by Priya Dewan, her company is a one-stop music tourism platform that offers everything you need to attend your favourite festival or show in Asia with minimal effort.
Previously the North American Label Manager for UK-based label Warp Records, Priya has been featured as Billboard Magazine’s Top 30 Movers and Shakers under 30, and also quoted in The New York Times, Billboard, and The Boston Globe over her prodigious career in the music industry. We speak to the Singapore-based entrepreneur as she shares her vision for Gig Life Asia and her challenges in the niche market.
You had a pretty good gig in New York with Warp Records. What made you want to come back to Singapore?
Absolutely, I did have a great gig in New York with Warp, learned a ton, and had a blast in the process! Leaving all of that behind to move back to Singapore and start something new was not a decision I made lightly, but I am so thankful I did.
A few years ago I started to notice that a lot of indie artists I worked with or was friends with were getting offers to tour Southeast Asia. They typically reached out to for me for tips and advice as I grew up in Singapore and I was so excited to offer it.
I could sense that something was developing here and wanted to be a part of it, so I moved back to Singapore to set up Feedback Asia – a booking agency and consultancy working with international and regional artists to develop their profiles and find opportunities for them across Asia.
What was the inspiration that led to Gig Life Asia?
As an agent and consultant for Asia, I travel around the region a lot, attending festivals, concerts, and going out with friends I have made along the way – who take me to some of the best restaurants, bars, pop up parties, and exhibitions in these cities. I realised that I am sitting on some really great information and decided to put it all in one portal to share widely, which is Gig Life Asia, guiding you to Asia’s best gigs, festivals and events.
Who is Gig Life Asia targeting?
Gig Life Asia is for the music and travel enthusiast who wants to experience the best of an event and the city that hosts it, without hassle and like an insider. Our weekly newsletter features a different city where we speak to a resident who offers really useful and unique tips, discounts to events across the region, and our recommendations.
What are some difficulties ‘newbies’ heading to a festival or concert overseas don’t realise until it’s too late?
The first is literally being late! First time festival or concert goers may underestimate the time it will take between arriving at the venue and actually being at the stage to watch their favourite artist. Depending on the size of the event, this can take up to 45 minutes to collect your ticket or wristband, top up your RFID to buy drinks and food, clear security, and walk to the stage. The other difficulty is running out of cash. Not all festivals have ATM machines.
So, what’s your favourite thing about the job?
My favourite thing is definitely the exposure to new places, experiences and friends. I went to Equation Festival alone earlier this year outside of Hanoi and had a great time. It is a three-day electronic camping festival set by a lake 90 minutes outside the city. An epic experience!
What are some challenges you face organising these travel packages?
The biggest challenge so far has been creating awareness about the packages in a timely fashion and across the region. I have started to work with promo partners in different markets, like Malaysia, India, and Australia, to help get the word out. And also reaching out to promoters earlier to lock in packages to give people more time to take leave, look for friends to join, and book their flights.
I’m sure you’ve lost track of the number of concerts and festivals you’ve been to now – but surely you remember your most memorable one?
I would have to say Sonar 2008. That was my first time going to a festival in Barcelona and I was there with a bunch of friends from Warp. We rented an apartment for four nights, went to the beach during the day, ate at such amazing restaurants, and had the best time checking out our favourite artists at the festival together. That was my first festival tourism experience and I was hooked immediately. I have returned to Barcelona almost every summer since then to attend Primavera or Sonar.
Would you say Asia is home to better festival experiences than anywhere else?
Asia is home to some of the coolest festival settings in the world. Ranging from Fuji Rock in a ski resort in Japan, festivals in fort palaces across India, and most recently Bestival Bali in the gorgeous GWK Park in Uluwatu, Bali. We definitely have opportunities to experience some gorgeous places through festivals in Asia.
Thoughts on the music scene and industry in Singapore?
There is never a dull moment in Singapore these days! There is a lot of talent coming out of and coming into Singapore these days – it is so inspiring. There are plenty of pop-up parties and opportunities to experience a variety of genres of entertainment.
Any plans for expanding to, you know, beyond Asia?
I need to expand within Asia more, first! I hope to localise my website soon to expand its offerings to markets like Greater China, Korea, and Japan. I am already noticing a lot of organic festival tourists coming out of those markets at festivals I attend across Asia.
After packages for the likes of Bestival Bali 2017 and Erykah Badu in Manila, Gig Life Asia has launched packages for Clockenflap in Hong Kong (happening 17 to 19 November 2017). Book your travel package to one of Asia’s coolest festivals and watch artists like Feist, Cashmere Cat, Bob Moses, and Massive Attack live!