• Local artists push legislations to promote OPM

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    The day-long Pinoy Music Summit 2014 titled, “Basta Pinoy Push Mo Yan,” on Wednesday confirmed the long-standing claim of music industry players that Original Pilipino Music (OPM) is in a downward        spiral, despite annual song–writing competitions, big-budgeted concerts, and the expensive production of compact disc   (CD) albums.

    Speakers in the forum said the sector’s problems have caused a 75-percent decline in record sales over the last decade, which effectively put the music industry’s fate in peril. Among the solutions they proposed are legislations promoting local compositions and artists.

    Stakeholders from various recording companies, composers, artists as well as music advocates from different sectors of society, convened for the first time  to discuss the true state of the Philippine Music Industry, in   the hope of arresting the decline of OPM appreciation among Filipinos, and ultimately devising concrete measures to protect and promote homegrown talents  and compositions.

    “For such a long time, the dominant music in the country is foreign,” declared Noel Ca–bangon, the president of Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc. (Filscap). “It’s bothersome because if foreign music dominates the industry, what does this teach the Filipino society, especially the youth? Since music is a cultural expression, we need to instill, enliven and embrace Filipino music in the country.”

    Cabangon explained that the aim of the summit was two-pronged: “to contribute to the economy through the promotion and expansion of the local music market and to push stakeholders to make recommendations and commit to promoting and reviving OPM.”

    Besides the dominance of foreign music, another hurdle in the way of OPM’s progress is the tendency of local recording companies to “play it safe” by releasing revivals and album compilations that appeal to the market bracket of 35-year-olds who still buy audio CDs.

    “Recording companies have been producing much less albums the past decade than they have in previous decades,” said Ryan Cayabyab, executive director of the Philpop Foundation who opened the summit with his talk on the “State of the Philippine Music Industry.”

    “Foreign labels have enough capital to continue launching new albums in this en–vironment, and local labels have also been more risk-averse in investing in new local artists,” Cayabyab added.

    The digital age has also affected the Philippine music market, as local and foreign songs are easily promoted and accessible through the Internet.

    According to a Nielsen report, 37 percent of Filipinos, especially within the 15- to 30-year-old age group, download or upload music files.

    Stakeholders in the music industry also recognize that until now there has been “no established model” in  the Philippines that connects the artist or musical work with listeners.

    “[The year] 1999 is considered the peak of the Philippine recording industry with total industry CD sales reaching P2.7 billion. Since then, album sales have gone down to P699 million by 2010. That represents a 75-percent drop in revenues for recording companies in one decade,” Cayabyab cited.

    Given this volatile state, musicians, businessmen and government officials who were present at the summit made their respective recommendations on how to reinforce a better business environment for local recording companies and provide artists more opportunities to nurture their talent.

    In the Senate, several bills are being pushed to protect OPM. Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona 3rd who chairs the committee on culture and the arts pushed for tax exemptions and subsidies for artists and labels that promote local music.

    Senate Bill 1707 filed by Sen. Lito Lapid, meanwhile, endorses the creation of a “musical industry development council.”

    “We are also pushing for the inclusion of OPM in the National Development Plan. We recognize the importance of music in the Filipino culture, which is the soul of the country,” Guingona said.

    Sen. Benigno Paolo “Bam” Aquino 4th who chairs the committee on trade business and entrepreneurship reported that the government is compelling     the Department of Education (DepEd) to include music development in its K-to-12 curriculum to harness the youth’s appreciation for local songs.

    Moreover, the senators promised to monitor the strict implementation of Executive Order 255 signed by former President Corazon Aquino, which requires radio stations to play at least four OPM songs every hour, and possibly even enacting this into a law.

    According to Cabangon, who himself is a well-known singer-songwriter, “we want to make a paradigm shift, to move forward not in only in the traditional way, but to [make a]shift especially in perspective to build a vibrant and sustainable music industry anchored on OPM.”

    On its part Filscap, together with various groups in the music industry, has pushed for the legislation of the OPM Development Act of 2014        that encourages the dev–elopment and performance of OPM artists, while increasing the play list of Filipino music on radio.

    “It’s not only the artists that are feeling the slump, but record labels as well. But we still ask them, do they just want to be distributors of foreign music, or do they also want to promote and sell local music?

    “But it cannot just be the record labels acting on the problem.  It must be a collective effort of artists, companies and the government to revive the Philippine music industry,” Cabangon concluded.

    Besides Filscap, the summit brought together the Philippine Association of Record Industry Inc., the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit, the Asosasyon ng Musikong Pili–pino Foundation, the Philpop MusicFest Foundation and other concerned agencies.

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