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“Louder for the People in the Back”: Indie vs. Popular Filipino Music

By JESCA C. CANTO
March 18, 2019

Our lives revolve around music. It has indeed played a major role in shaping people’s lives, most especially to those who are blessed with the gift of music and are able to share their unique sounds that led them to pursue their passion for it.

In the Philippines, it is widely known that we have outstanding performers in the field of music that even some are fortunate enough to have their talents recognized by either local or international scenes, and we are fortunate enough to go around the world to perform on the biggest stages. Because of this, many artists are inspired to strive and attain that same goal. Even more so when their music is something that catches people’s attention because of the messages they convey. But as the years go by, the music industry in the country has become more political in terms that it has a tendency to be more of a business in making money than what music is supposed to be; an expression of art at its proper form.

In today’s digital age, music has become more accessible to many whether through online streaming sites or downloading them through music applications like Spotify. It has also given the opportunity to let people share their music, especially those starting out as local indie artists who want their work to be recognized in simple ways such as posting their music on websites like Soundcloud, or promoting their performances in small gigs at local bars.

These indie artists have one goal in common; to express what words cannot say through their passion for music. With this access, many of these artists have published their songs in the form of covers and even unique compositions online. By means of publishing their work, their talents get discovered and are easily shared through word of mouth via social media. None of which would also have happened if it weren’t for the love and support that their fans have been giving them that pushes them to continue doing what they do best.

But even through the small success of these indie artists, in reality, it is difficult for most of them to pursue music and get the recognition they deserve. Today, as much as they want to make their music known at its best quality, it is being surpassed by what the popular music industries promote. The Filipino masses are innately attracted to anyone or anything that’s famous, most especially when they are seen in their famous movies and soap operas.

Unfortunately, Philippine entertainment industries use this attraction to their advantage, in which it influences them to waste their money on artists who are already famous for their acting career and have them take a chance on making music, whether or not they can actually sing and hit a good note. Later on, you would be surprised that music industries are actually promoting a poor quality album that is filled with auto-tunes and shallow lyrics sung by a person who just so happens to be already famous, rather than investing their time and attention on promoting indie artists who produce songs that have a much deeper substance.

In line of the inappropriateness of promoting such artists in the field, most if not all Filipinos tend to be attracted to the loudest thing, but not necessarily the best thing, especially when it comes to music. Their attention is more on songs that do not have much essence, than those that do. It shows how Filipinos have such a skewed definition when it comes to the quality of the songs that they listen to, simply because of the influence that some artists have garnered through media that is not anywhere related to music.

These indie artists, however prominently talented they are, are being overshadowed by songs from inadequate persons in the industry who are only doing it for their additional source of profit.

Ever since its start in the early 1970s, Original Pilipino Music (abbreviated as O.P.M.) has always been prosperous and it never fails to captivate the hearts and emotions of the people, especially through the way it is arranged and the true implications of the lyrics.

Filipinos nowadays tend to say that OPM is dying, or dead even, because all they see and hear are from our entertainment industries are so-called artists lip-syncing to international songs and not even promote what is ours. Others even say that it’s dying because the quality of Filipino music artists they promote today are shallow or just a copy of international celebrities. But little do they know that these indie artists are the ones keeping it alive by giving what’s unique and sustaining the true meaning standards of OPM, and it’s saddening that not many people appreciate them.

Music in the Philippines has become more of a subject of business than of Art. But even if that is the reality of the industry, it is satisfying to see that here are still thriving artists who still push themselves into pursuing their music knowing that the music business in the country is a hit or miss.

As someone who is enthusiastic for her love and support for Filipino music, it is great to perceive that little by little prosperous and authentic music is being distinguished by its unique quality over other the qualities being promoted in the media, and that people are sharing and promoting these indie artists that deserves to be heard and be proud of. But at the end of the day, the most important purpose music can achieve is to unite its people amidst its differences.

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