I was ten years old when I begged my mom to buy me an Eraserheads cassette. I complained because I couldn’t find the song “Pare ko.” My friend then explained that I bought the wrong album. I got Circus instead of UltraElectroMagneticPop. That experience taught me that I can’t get all of a band’s songs from one album. Strange, that may have been my first lesson in the business side of music.
From then on, I’ve always been an avid patron of OPM. I can clearly remember having all the Eraserheads tapes up until Cutterpillow, Rivermaya’s Trip and Atomic Bomb. Of course my parent’s Rey Valera, Rico J. Puno, and Marco Singson were always in the background, not to mention my Lola singing her timeless kundimans (all of which are just vague tunes in my memory). Safe to say, local Filipino music is a big piece of me as a musician and as a person. There’s always a melodic drama and romanticism in Pinoy songs. I love the dominance of major scales and vocal melodies laced with a story somewhere between the lines. After those bands wore out their glitter, I began listening (and sometimes idolizing) the newer generation of OPM. I began watching bands early 2000. Gigs started to be accessible, mainly because I wasn’t 10 anymore. I recall ignoring all the sweaty bodies around me, being captivated by live music, and imagining that one day I would do what they were doing.
With that said, let’s get to the difficult part. Has it been ten years? And still the same bands on TV and in sponsored gigs? Ten years of the same thing. Some are great, some the opposite of great; But 10 years of it, over and over again. I could name names, but better you make your own conclusions. I really appreciate some for always looking at music with fresh eyes and continually growing, but there are bands out there that ought to stop feeding people crap. Some have even broken up, only to be summoned by record labels and recycled, and called solo artists – even though the magic isn’t there anymore.
I’m not blaming these bands for hogging the spotlight and not giving way to newer, more deserving artists. They’re just like you and me – trying to put food on the table every day. It’s been ten years and what worries me is that there have been no new commendable artists in Philippine mainstream media. I worry because mainstream media is the only channel in the masses’ television of thoughts. Major music labels owe it to the public to give them good music. But with how things are going, they’re doing a horrible job.
How I wish major labels could recreate what happened to Urbandub. That band has damn good music. But without the marketing reach of majors, I believe their music would have been limited to those who fancy the underground music scene. Up until today, it amazes me that such good music is familiar to people who rely only on mass media. You see boys and girls; the biggest problem with being an independent musician is logistics and distribution. Major labels have the resources to really get music out there. A lot of people will deny this, but without good marketing, even Jesus himself, with all his good deeds, wouldn’t have been noticed.
Fact of the matter is – the giants of the music industry have been bleeding out money since the dawn of free file sharing over the internet. That sort of explains why they have been recycling talents for ten years. They simply don’t have enough money to take risks and experiment with something new. That’s why we’re ten years on replay.
Contrary to what we think, business isn’t pure evil. It’s really just numbers. Like the struggling artists, the guy sitting behind a desk in some record label’s office is just trying to put food on the table too. They obviously make more money than artists, but I doubt all those numbers are as fulfilling as art.
To end, I want to express my appreciation to bands that have stood the test of time, and continue to share their growth with everybody. For those of you painting beautiful pictures in a cave, don’t worry. When all this ends, we will be remembered for what we leave behind. Take comfort in the fact that your name is not signed on some garbage that made a lot of money back when you were alive. What we leave behind will be remembered more, than the quality of life that we’ve lived.
Cheers to the next 10 years.
May it progress.