Friday, August 31, 2012

Project 52 (35/52): On Whether Or Not OPM Is "Dead" (And Why We're Asking The Wrong Question)

.:Project 52 (35/52): On Whether Or Not OPM Is "Dead" (And Why We're Asking The Wrong Question):.

Well, they're Original, they're Pinoy, they're making Music, and they don't look dead to me, so...

And friends are probably wondering why I'm not writing about Sotto after his latest screed. Yeah, I saw myself on Yahoo because of the issue, but the answer why I'm mostly ignoring him by today is pretty simple: writing about his plagiarism is exactly what he wants at this point, and I'm not going to give him the satisfaction of wasting my time.

But he does have one common thread with this issue I'm talking about, though: he was a part of VST and Co., one of the luminaries of OPM back in the day. If he resigned the Senate and reformed VST instead, he would have all my support.

I know I talked about Philippine radio, often the vehicle for OPM, tolling its death knells in 2010. Strangely, this whole issue brings all that to fore to my mind.

That being said, I know the issue itself is all but dead, but I still feel the need to chew on it some more. Yeah, I did an 8 List that is saying what I'm saying right now, but I want to expound my point further.

First, I think we're having a failure to communicate because when Leloy Claudio and Don Jaucian assert that OPM is dead, they seem to have a specific definition people like Zach Lucero and Jinri Park do not necessarily share.

For those who are outside looking in, commercial success is the standard for whether OPM is alive or dead. I doubt anyone would be deluded enough to say that every talented artist out there is getting a fair shake commercially. You probably can't even say that even during the boom periods of OPM, after all, but that gap seems a lot more obvious at present.

It's why I partially agreed with Leloy on Twitter: correct symptoms, wrong diagnosis. Otherwise, this blog, which hasn't really been a blog designed to make money, has been dead since 2002, and all modesty aside, I'm pretty damned sure that is not true. If I pretty much said that blogging isn't always about money or following, then I'd be a hypocrite to make it the only thing about music, too.

Buuuut... don't we all wish our favorite artists made more money for the beautiful music they make? I know I do. That's why I was agreeing with Leloy on this count. If it's all about the money, then the talented people are not getting enough of it. The capitalist in me agrees with what Leloy had to say, but not his conclusion.

There's also the notion that OPM is "dead" because the elites and the masses aren't singing the same song. Maybe, maybe not. I absolutely love Gloc 9 and I don't think he's a guilty pleasure, and I'm not alone in this among my friends. The masses clearly love him enough to keep him on top of the Myx Charts, too.

Cracked talked about this already: people who think OPM is dead think so because that is their perception, and for the mainstream, perception is reality. I don't think I've ever been to 70's Bistro with Leloy, so that speaks for itself, really.

What is "dead" to the mainstream is not necessarily "dead" to everybody else, but really, what does it mean for OPM to be truly dead?

The great Francis Magalona passed away a few years back, and yet, his music still lives on to this very day. Is his music "dead"? Of course not. The same can be said of any artist who has left their mark in OPM, living or dead. Contrary to Don McLean, there is no day when the music dies. It's an art form. "Killing" an art form utterly is pretty hard to do.

In the 90's, when a certain Senator tried to ban "Alapaap" from the airwaves, do you think our parents felt OPM was alive? I'm willing to bet those with protective parents thought the Eraserheads were polluting our minds, and were nothing compared to the OPM artists of their time who weren't singing about drugs. Like Pepe Smith or something.

Hey! Two straight-edge guys hanging out!

It's a question of perspective again. Just like James Soriano last year, which happened also, coincidentally, around the time of Buwan ng Wika. Seems to me it's always the older generation who thinks the new one is killing the good ol' days, and our rose-colored glasses refuse to come off.

Damn, it makes me feel old to realize I'm now part of "the older generation."

So yes, OPM is "dead" given a very specific definition that not everybody agrees with. OPM is also "alive", but it isn't optimal. I doubt anyone would deny that the situation could be better for everyone involved, and though piracy, the broken business model, and so many other issues may be to blame, what is not to blame is the lack of local musical talent. They're all there. We just need to look for them, and in the age of the internet, that might really be the secret demand that is expected of us.

Kung hindi mo alam na may magaling tumugtog diyan sa kanto, hindi ibig sabihin walang magaling tumugtog diyan sa kanto.

We expected the performers to change, but not the ways by which we came to know them. What if we were wrong? What if our tastes, the business model, the distribution model, everything about music, both OPM and otherwise, has to change in this new age? What if we're looking at it wrong if we don't change our expectations?

As a mentalist and a comedian, I know how it feels for your art form to be so out of the eyes of the mainstream that the first time they see a mentalism act, or watch Mike Unson or The Comedy Cartel perform, the first reaction after amazement is always, "I never knew mentalism/POV standup comedy even existed in the Philippines!" But was mentalism or comedy dead? Nope. We were always there. People just didn't see us yet. Incognito? Yes. Dead? Obviously not. Do I look like Bruce Willis to you?

No, kid. That was just Cueshe.

Despite the disagreements on both sides of the debate, one thing is clear: neither side wants OPM to "die". I doubt Leloy does. I'm pretty sure Jinri doesn't. We have people having the same desire, that OPM reach the heights it has reached before, if not greater, but with differing perceptions on where we are today. It's time to stop focusing on where they disagree, and to focus on where they actually agree.

That's why I believe the question should not be "is OPM dead or alive?" That's a divisive question that has engendered debate, yes, but there is no consensus to be built afterwards. All we have are flaring tempers, defensive snarkiness, and ad hominems from the outliers to show for it.

I believe the question should be, "should OPM be dead?"

The answer predictably should be, wherever you were on the side of the previous debate, "heck, no!"

Because if you think OPM shouldn't be dead, you find it your responsibility to keep OPM alive in your own way.

The simplest way is to reminisce on the good ol' tunes you used to love. Nobody went and erased your old favorite songs, and someday, even these new songs we think are utter trash will be the good ol' tunes of the next generation. (Justin Bieber will someday be a classic the way the Spice Girls now are... I don't know how to feel about that.)

Then, you can take it further and find new music you like. You have Route 186, '70s Bistro, SaGuijo, and a ton of other venues artists perform. You can even just watch the Myx OPM Countdown. Malay mo, trip mo pala pakinggan si Christian Bautista? We won't judge. Clearly, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to OPM, because those who willfully remain ignorant think OPM is dead and feel bad about it.

Then, if you really like the music, you can buy their album. We complain that our favorite artists don't get paid enough for the music they come out with. The least we can do is buy their albums. Or keep watching their gigs. That works, too.

Then, you can tell your friends about this band you like, and how they totally should give the music a listen. Oh, look. You're now making a notable dent without having to pick a fight with a senator. I know fighting for OPM isn't as glamorous as fighting for (Or against, if you're being silly.) the RH Bill, but there's very little opportunity cost here, so why should that be a problem?

Then maybe you're inspired now, and you realize you can actually write music. And you write a song, borrow a friend's Macbook and Soundforge, a few mics, then record a demo. Or you're a bit more well-off, and you have a friend you're willing to fund to do just that.

So now, you made your very own song. Or at least produced the song of one of your very dear friends. Cool, right?

Well, not always cool, of course.

It's Original. I'm assuming you didn't plagiarize your song from Sarah Pope's blog or something.

Oh, snap!

It's Pinoy. I'm assuming you're Pinoy if you've gotten this far reading this.

Unless you're Ako Si Chris, aka the father of JoePM.

It's Music. I'm assuming you at least have a bit of talent when you make that song.


You. Are. Alive.

I think.

Congratulations! You just made sure OPM won't be staying dead!

Leloy Claudio was right: we should complain about the state of arts in the Philippines. The government is too busy granting idiotic lawmakers time to filibuster away our tax money to pay attention to OPM.

But that's why the power lies in us now. Why stop at complaining when you have the power to do much more? If you care about OPM's well-being, it becomes your duty to see to its well-being. You're free to not care, but don't be like the hypocrite who intentionally doesn't vote, then proceed to complain about how bad the government he got is. This isn't a closing of ranks: it's simply a bunch of people who wonder where you were while the deserving acts you say deserve better were languishing with nobody to watch their gigs or buy their albums. Because they were there.

He's also right that: internet + hard work = magic bullet to success is a work of fiction.

But that's why it won't take a single person to create success for any musician. I can't do that. Zach Lucero can't. Leloy Claudio can't. It's up to us as people who care enough about the music to make it succeed. Isn't that what we want? A chance to be a part of something greater than ourselves? The great artists of yesteryear didn't get to where they are today by not having any supporters.

If you think OPM is dead, but believe it shouldn't be, it's time to resurrect it.

If you think OPM isn't dead, and believe it shouldn't be, keep the fire burning.

If you care enough to feel that OPM shouldn't be dead, then it's worth fighting for. Oh, it's true! It's damn true!

I thought it was a microphone, so sue me.

Kay ganda ng ating musika. Ito ay atin, sariling atin.
- Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika, by Hajji Alejandro

1 comment:

james felizardo said...

I agree with your great analysis DJ Kel. I believe Leloy is challenging us to make the online noise to keep OPM alive. In terms of record sales, it might be in ICU but still there is hope. In terms of artform I agree it is still alive as new musicians with compositions that will touch us will emerge. Patronage is the key to keep it alive. Go for global patronage, there are a lot of Pinoys in different parts of the world willing to spend money to buy OPM. This is how Philippine cinema has survived so far and I believe the OPM industry can do the same.