Siti Nurhaliza and the Royal Albert Hall Concert


3rd December 2004, Siti Nurhaliza confirmed that she will be holding a full concert at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London on April 1 2005. That was 4 months for her to do all the preparations she need. She will perform 30 songs, some medleys which will include pop and traditional tunes from her albums during the two- hour show.

Her intention of the concert was to test the international market. She will become the first Malaysian and third Asian artist after Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar and renowned sitarist Ravi Shankar to hold a solo concert at the famous London venue.

One of the thing she done was bringing Putrade Property Management Sdn Bhd as the concert management team and venture partner. Putrade’s general manager who suggested April 1 as the show date as it was the same date siti first album, Jerat Percintaan, was released a decade ago.

10 years eh? From 1st April 1996 (it should be 1996 as she won Bintang HMI on 1995) to 1st April 2005, it 9 years only! We were tricked… The “Jerat Percintaan” album was labeled “SRC 96-3418” meaning it was released on 1996.

Then she brought multi-linguist and former TV presenter, Mahadzir Lokman as personal mentor to improve her English, communication skill and confidence.

Roslan Aziz was appointed as the show producer and musical director.

Others on the team were Steve Thornton (percussion), Aubrey Suwito (keyboards/band leader), Suhaimi ‘Pak Ngah’; Mohd Zain (lead musicians for the traditional segment), dancers from Yayasan Warisan Johor, Michael Ong and Radzuan Radziwil (costume designers), Nurul Shukor (make-up artist/buddy), Datuk Jimmy Choo (shoe designer) and 33-piece London Symphony Orchestra. No “Suara” the back-up singer. No Hillary Ang!

2 week before the concert… and bad news coming up…

No big corporations to sponsor the concert.

Concert executive chairman Ahmad Fazli Yaakob, or Fazley, said the absence of big sponsors forced the two companies behind the concert, Siti Nurhaliza Productions (M) Sdn Bhd and Putrade Property Management Sdn Bhd to bear most of the cost.

Why there were no big sponsors for the concert really a BIG question mark! She used to have all the sponsorship offers, why this happened now?

Only some of the air tickets for Siti’s 60-odd entourage to London were sponsored by an airline. Reporters have to pay their own way.

Fazley kept secret how much the show cost, but some sources said it was 1 and a half time what Sheila Majid paid for in Ronnie Scotts, London which cost 100,000 pound sterling in 1996. So roughtly it was about 150,000 pound sterling ~ RM 1.5 Millions?

She was happy to realise her dream of performing on an international stage, but the lack of sponsors made her feel a bit disappointed.

“After all, I’m doing my bit to bring Malaysian music to the rest of the world but it seems that not many people are aware of what I’m doing,” said Siti Nurhaliza.

Hmmm.. Why the change in her intention? Her intention was to test the international market, but now she speak about bring Malaysian music to the rest of the world.

“Unlike sports events where sponsors abound, I hope there’ll be sponsors for events such as concerts involving local artistes, especially those held abroad,” continued Siti Nurhaliza.

How can she compared a sport event with a concert? A sport event is a competition while a concert is not! Unless it Jac (Malaysian Idol Winner) going to World Idol!

Why should the companies give sponsorship to the concert? What will they get in return? Examples such as Astro or Maxis, what will they get in return?

In Siti Nurhaliza Fantasia Tour, they sponsored because they get more clients to signed up for their products (Astro TV channels and Hotlink mobile line subscribers). For the Indonesia tour, a bank got more clients to open a bank account. If they sponsor her for the London show, will they get that? You need to have a win-win solution for the company.

Why do a Apparel & Footwear company sponsored David Beckham? The answer is, fans of David Beckham would want to wear what their idol wear.

Promotions were made at BBC Indonesia, Oriental City (Colindale), Malaysian Embassy in London and United Malays National Organization (UMNO) Club.

Not an ideal place to promote Malaysian music to the rest of the world!

Ticket sales were not encouraging. Almost 70% of the tickets were sold just a day before the show. To boast ticket sales, discounted tickets were put up on sale. How can they do this? It's unfair to those who brought at the original price!

1 April… the April Fool!

A few hours before the show…

News came saying that the tickets were 100% SOLD OUT!

From the bloggers who went there, they said that the hall was only half full. It was supposed to seat 3000 audiences, but the full capacity is 5222 seats. Report from the newspapers said about 2500 audiences were there. Where were the “500 peoples” who bought the tickets that was said were “SOLD OUT”? Hmmm… I got a friend from Singapore who bought the ticket but did not go to watch it. Are the rest also liked her? Just brought the tickets as souvenir?

There were even some news that free tickets were given out just before the show. Some who bought the ticket also get the free better seat ticket which caused the hall to be half full as you can see on the picture. It reminded me of Malam Amal Suria 2002 which they gave out unsold ticket freely. It’s really NOT FAIR to the fans who brought the actual priced tickets.

Those who came were mostly Malays and about 10% were Europeans. Only a few loggia and 2nd tier boxes were occupied (priced at £100+ per person). I had expected this situation. Siti hope of testing international market shattered. Maybe she should performs in Japan, China, India or the US where there were fewer Malays. The next show in Australia is also not a good place for testing.

The VIPs… they should be important peoples from London (ministers and artists) and should not be the sultan of Pahang and Brunei, Malaysian members of parliament, Malaysian artists (Shasha, Azza, Zizi, Chef Wan and Anuar Zain)! It looked like a concert in Malaysia! What was Anuar Zain doing there? If he can attend this concert, why wasn’t he around at the APM 2005?

A blogger said that 80% of the time Siti Nurhaliza spoke in Bahasa Malaysia. What Mahadzir Lokman had done? Was he supposed to teach Siti Nurhaliza to speak in English for the show?

One blogger comment that her dresses were inappropriate. But from the picture I saw, all the dresses were fine to me. Maybe this guy stayed too long in London and forget all about the Malay costume. He may be think it was Britney Spear or Mariah Carey who was performing.

He also said that the choreography looked degradingly cheap and very “low class” and the show lack of coordination. Another big question for Roslan Aziz. I can’t comment on the choreography until I get the vcd of the concert.

What’s so special about David Elliot, the chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, extended an invitation for her to come back to the prestigious venue for another show in the near future? It’s just a normal business procedure to make money. Surely he had said that same thing to the other singers who had performed there!

Overall, the bloggers said that she performed very well to cover all the mistakes that the team had done. Well done Siti!

Congratulation again to Siti Nurhaliza for becoming the first Malay to perform in Royal Albert Hall. Malaysia BOLEH! Your dream come true.

This concert may be unprofitable in term of Siti Nurhaliza Production’s financial outcome. But the experience venturing outside the Malay countries was a valuable one.

You lose some, you gained some, lucky for Siti Nurhaliza… Her fans voted her as the Most Popular Star at Anugerah Bintang Popular 2005! RM115,000 (Kia Optima 2.0 car) + RM180,000 (Rafflesia The Pearl Centre jewelries) => that about RM300,000 gift from the fans to compensate her lost in RAH!

Hope this will be a stepping stone for Siti Nurhaliza to be an international star.