Editor’s note: Aimee sent us this piece with the note: “I’ve been debating whether or not to hand this in, as it is very personal to me.”
There was an uproar over the past few days on whether or not OPM (original Pinoy music) still exists. Those in and out of the music scene (myself included) ranted on about how stupid and preposterous this was; and of course we would, as we would know better than most the state of the music industry in this country.
But some things are clear to me, too. One of the things is this simple: We are cannibalizing our scene. Is it because we only ask for P150 for five bands in one night with a free beer? We can’t even pay our own artists a decent wage for what is essentially hours of their work.
Some people may say: “It should be about the music, man, it’s art.” Well, sure it is, but will the art pay the bills? Or at the very least the cab/bus/jeepney/trike ride home? No. And yes, the starving artist here in the Philippines is very, very much alive.
There are several bands I know that have gone abroad, even been part of international compilations and albums, but were never revered here as bands like Parokya ni Edgar or Bamboo. Why? Because it is just not the popular sound, and it is the popular sound, ladies and gentlemen—however much we dig in our heels and say otherwise—that sells.
Then there are the record deals, and the alcohol and coffee and clothing brand endorsements. Of course they do this, because this is what sells, and that is what the brand wants. It doesn’t want the music. It wants to be associated with the music.
And let me put a footnote right here before anyone gets offended: There is absolutely nothing wrong with those bands that I mentioned. They are who they are for a reason. I am not trying to trash them.
And so what of the band? Some hard-core fantasists will go and say: “You sold out, man.” How in heaven’s name did they sell out? They accepted an offer that would pay them to play their music while drinking or wearing whatever in front of an audience. Okay, they may even do a stupid commercial.
So what? The music is still there, isn’t it? Will you hate them for making that decision when you realize that they have a family to support? I doubt it. I would bet that the attitude towards them will morph into something like, “Madami namang pera yan kaya ok lang na pirated binili ko.”
Or this is the reason why if any former Eraserheads member’s band will play, people will try and always get in for free because “the artists don’t need the money.”
Music is a right
I am going to get kicked in the ass for this, but I’m going out on a limb and say this: Maybe, just maybe, we are our own detractors, we are OPM cannibals? I mean, if we value our music so much, why are we charging only P150 for a show with five bands? If those bands split up the P150, they get only P30 each. What about those bands who have more than five members?
I’ve always hated math and I won’t do any now. I am just throwing it out there because maybe smarter people will come up with an answer. At least, I am hoping they will.
And I get it. I get that the Philippines is not the US or Europe or even Singapore, whose citizens have enough disposable income that they are willing to pay for music. But why can’t we be? Music should never be a privilege. It is a right. It moves people, inspires them, makes them want to dance and sing and up and do their thing.
(Some say it should not even be labeled as OPM, because in reality, music is music, right? I agree… and I disagree. I understand why the title OPM is used, because we want to identify ourselves from the rest.)
I believe completely in the music scene, our music scene. I believe that though I do not agree or I’m not a fan of some kinds of music, I know that the DJs, bands and artists that are actually out there playing their hearts out are doing it because of passion and love for it, and I will always respect them for that.
I know that the bands, artists and DJs will always play for that one dude who paid the entrance fee, and they’ll grab a drink, sit down and talk to you about the traffic coming in from a three-hour long jeepney/trike/bus ride.
So what now? I believe that this issue has gone on long enough. Because really, those who are bothered by it can keep at the debate—and those who are really in it are too busy still making music.
The author is the drummer of The Dorques.