Pumping life into Pinoy music

by Nickie Wang

Early last month, President Benigno Aquino reinstated an executive order requiring all radio stations, with musical format, to broadcast at least four OPM (Original Pinoy Music) songs every hour. That means, at least 25 percent of the program will be dedicated to the Filipino-produced music.

Some radio stations oppose the executive order believing that they will lose their audience, most especially those that play US Billboard chart toppers. Willing or reluctant, there are stations that already begin playing at least one OPM every clock hour.

Local music’s substantial exposure in the airwaves is a good way to start with and if it is the authorities’ approach to create a renewed interest in OPM, then they are on the right track. But in this nationalistic attempt we should also look into the possibilities that listeners might get bored and eventually crave for music that soothes their ears and matches their taste.

We don’t have to wait for the time that listeners would rather prefer a broken record than tuning on the radio (of course, with the advent of Internet, that’s not going to happen but we have to consider that not everybody has the access to the new media and yet they still prefer quality music). Hence, there should be sustained efforts that will encourage musicians and record producers to create better quality music, and perhaps the people who proposed the reinstatement of the executive order should roll up their sleeves now and begin supporting the local industry in genuine ways.

Local industry’s initiative

To rekindle pride in Filipino music, the Filipino Composers Development Cooperative (FILCOMDEC) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas formed an alliance, a joint venture project called Click Music Philippines Incorporated.

According to Click Music chairman Ruperto “Jun” Nicdao, this initiative is aimed to keep up with the renewed demand in OPM. The alliance, he believes, will generate more and better music content for KBP member stations.

“They are re-implementing the executive order to promote local music, but we have a limited supply. Thus if we want to have radio stations packed with local content we should also consider producing quality materials,” Nicdao said.

At the official launch of Click Music, Nicdao also announced that listening public will likewise benefit from the project. In the website http://www.clickmusic.com, ordinary consumer can download OPM songs for a nominal price instead of buying the whole album.

“The website focuses on the promotion and sales of Filipino music creations,” Nicdao mentioned and added that it has similar components with online music store iTunes.

The Click Music website is the first project of FILCOMDEC and KBP that brings composers and radio networks together toward a unified business direction. It also keeps a tighter focus on copyright ownership.

Other project of the alliance is the KBP Pop Music Festival, which aims to generate new song content for the Click Music website. The competition is open to all Filipino composers both amateur and professional.

“The competition will be done in the airwaives,” declared Nicdao, “making it unique from other songwriting contests.”

The top 500 entries will be provided mandatory radio airplay (on KBP member radio stations) and the winners will be announced in a concert slated in April next year. The deadline for submission of entries is on Nov. 15 (forms and other details are available in KBP website http://www.kbp.org.ph).

“We’ve all been waiting for this, and we thank KBP for this initiative,” echoed whilom hit makers Gino Padilla and Richard Reynoso who were guest performers at the official launch of Click Music and KBP Music Festival.

But what is OPM, by the way?

We all hear local musicians and singers saying, “Please buy original record and support OPM.” But what do we know about OPM? Does it have any identity at all?

We can only identify OPM as any song written in Tagalog (or in any Philippine dialect) or in English by local musicians. But generally, OPM is simply the Philippine pop music, which had its golden years in the ‘70s according to some music sages.

When we say Pop or Hip-hop or RnB, or even if we say alternative and rock music, we always associate them with one of America’s greatest exports – entertainment. And the billion dollar American music industry dictates the terms that define OPM—the musicality, the beat or rhythm, the song structure, and even the artists’ attitude.

It’s so nice to hear the line “kay ganda ng ating musika” but no matter how we console ourselves that we can still rekindle the interest of people in OPM, as long as our musicians and composers pattern (or blatantly copy) their creations to that of the American music works, then we are just wasting effort and time.

Now, here comes K-Pop, the trendy tunes from South Korea that even US Billboard Charts took notice. And riding in the bandwagon, is P-Pop (Pinoy Pop, that is), which only appears as an inferior version of the Korean music identity.

If you are coach potato during Sunday and you only switch channels watching Asap XV and Party Pilipinas, you are definitely exposed to the depressing plight of OPM. These musical shows, which should be the platform for local artists to promote their music, have become the venues that showcase what is in and what is in demand abroad. Thus impelling local singers try hard just to sound like foreign artists, which is rather sad if not nauseating.

These are some of the reasons why audience would prefer the records of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry to the music of, let us say, Rachelle Ann Go, Sarah Geronimo, Kyla, Yeng Constantino and Toni Gonzaga. Why go to someone who is a second-rate if you can listen directly to the original?

This is the miserable truth that even the likes of Ogie Alcasid, Ryan Cayabyab, or by the so-called industry’s hit makers cannot solve. Not in their lifetime because as long as we don’t have a strong foundation (music education) and complacency still runs in the blood of local artists (which reflects on their obsession to covers), then any effort will just go to waste and this puny industry will be just devoured by an even more influential and dynamic foreign music.

4 responses to “Pumping life into Pinoy music

  1. Pingback: Amy MacDonald's 'strange life' | BBC News

  2. Your points are clearly stated. But what IS Filipino original form? It could be Ifugao music… harana or kundiman( which is a Spanish influence)… rock and roll( which is an American influence)… and so fort…
    I think it’s alright to leave the growth and inflluences come by… until we can say that it is OURS. Take note that even Elvis Presely has his own influences. The Beatles has their own influences, and of them is Elvis.

    MUSIC is culture….What really is our culture?… Isn’t it the mixture of so many cultures? Our history says so.

    • You’re correct music is culture. But what is culture? It’s more than refinement and broad education, and we do not have a predisposition to it since it’s not hereditary. So what do we do to improve it?

      Does The Beattles sound like Elvis? No! The Beattles was inspired by Elvis but established its own style and sound. Give me local artists who do the same, I can name a few but they are outnumbered by people who rely heavily on imitating their idols.

  3. Nelson H. Miguel

    I am an amatuer composer with a hundred unpublished songs. But I only heard about the KBP Pop Music Festival late October. I wish the deeadline would be extended that I may submit more entries. Thank you.

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