I run into producer Steve Lillywhite at least once a year at various music conferences around the world. He’s a great guy, friendly, fun, and always ready with a story. And as a guy who has worked on albums by U2, Simple Minds, Psychedelic Furs, Chris Cornell, The Smiths, Killers, The Pogues, Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews, etc. etc. etc., he has lots of stories.
Steve has lived in various places around the planet. These days, he calls Jakarta his home where he oversees one of the stranger music enterprises. He helps KFC sell CDs.
And Indonesia’s KFC locations sell a lot of CDs: up to 600,000 a month.
Musically.com takes a look at the situation.
Since 2016, renowned British record producer Steve Lillywhite has been running Jagonya Music & Sport, a company that places music in Indonesia’s Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.
KFC Indonesia sells around 600,000 CDs a month, making it a huge player in the Indonesia music industry. Music Ally spoke to him to find out more about this unique story of chicken and music.
How did KFC end up selling CDs?
The family of my boss [Ricardo Gelael, director of PT Fast Food Indonesia] owns all the franchises of KFC in Indonesia. Indonesia is a 90% Muslim country, so there is no pork. Beef is not really part of their tradition, so chicken rules. They know chicken like the French know foie gras. KFC is eight out of 10 people’s favourite fried chicken.
KFC is a destination restaurant here. A lot of the stores have stages for music and a lot of them have kids’ playgrounds. And they have tweaked certain things to go with Indonesian culture: they serve it with rice, they serve a spicy one, as well as the original. They do a whole load of different things, but it is still KFC; it still has Colonel Sanders. Because of the music connection, it has this slight feel of music, cool and chicken.
About eight years ago, my boss’s brother [Fabian Gelael] was running the company and he decided to start bundling CDs with chicken. This was a ridiculous concept, but when you live in Indonesia you get the sense of the ridiculous here. And it really took off. People have said to me, ‘Like Starbucks?’ And I have said, ‘No it is not like Starbuck’s because the point-of-sale person takes your order and says, “Would you like a CD with that?” So it is actually suggested selling.
We have a maximum of 10 or 11 CDs at any one point to choose from.
This just shows you how different the music business can be around the world. Keep reading.