Kuh Ledesma and the Decay of OPM

Confirming the decaying state of Original Pinoy Music (OPM), Filipino recording artist Kuh Ledesma called for the limitation of the number of foreign artists visiting the Philippines to promote their respective labels.

In a recent interview with Pep.ph, the Pop Diva pointed out that because we are a small country with limited resources, our local talents should be protected and not be deprived of opportunities that otherwise go to foreign performers.

“Kung ako ang tatanungin, kung ako ang president, dapat limitado talaga. Kasi, nakikita ko talaga na kapag sinuportahan natin ang mga Pilipino, talagang lalawak ang bayan natin,” she argued.

(Source: Link)

I fail to understand how Ledesma’s argument is connected to our country’s alleged shortage in resources (and what kind of resources does she refer to, anyway?), but I understand quite well that she wants to bring back the former glory days of OPM, and the most plausible solution she can come up with is to shun foreign artists from reaching out to their Filipino fans.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, singer-songwriter Jim Paredes sided with Ledesma regarding the issue.

“There is a regulation of sorts also in the US, Australia and the UK by way of actors equity where producers pay for local jobs displaced,” he said.

In other words, Paredes believes that local artists who got pushed aside by foreign ones should be given “compensation.” Moreover, Ledesma found an ally in singer-actress Isay Alvarez:

“And their numbers are growing,” she further cautioned. “Yes it’s true I was part of a foreign musical once, but I guess that’s different because Cameron Mackintosh brought ‘Miss Saigon’ here because I think he owes it to the Filipinos. Besides, most of the talents in that musical came from this country anyway.”

Alvarez also wants foreign performers to pay more for their concerts here in the Philippines, even going as far as to tell producers to use the collected funds to support the unnoticed artists here in the Philippines.

At face value, it would seem these local artists have the dying OPM industry’s best interests at heart. However, something not so wonderful occurs as well in the process; these artists are trying to dictate what the market should want. And they are blaming the foreign artists for their own mishaps.

The music industry is one of the liveliest markets as of today, and like any other market, some suppliers win most of the demand, while some are not so fortunate. But a market truth remains uncontested by time; winning in a specific market requires creativity and perseverance on behalf of the supplier.

Notice how the foreign music industry is very adaptable in terms of musical genres; pop, jazz, ballads, rock, heavy metal, country music, you name it. There is bound to be a well-known name in every genre from brilliant artists outside the Philippines.

Meanwhile, can you name a good local band or artist for every musical genre that is still active and widely recognized, and can therefore compete well with foreign artists? In all probability, all we will ever recall are cheesy ballads and tiresome revivals of the classics. This is what’s keeping OPM down on its knees; we have lost our sense of diversity and creativity as an industry.

We complain of brilliant Filipino performers shrouded in obscurity. Sure enough, recent news attests to this undeniable fact:

At the end of the month, singer, songwriter and bass player extraordinaire Cynthia Alexander is leaving the Philippines.

For good.

Cynthia is uprooting herself and her family and migrating to Seattle, Washington.

Her reason?

Career-wise, she has had very limited support.

Or, in her own words: “I think I’m ready for change, and new challenges.”

(Source: Link)

But I don’t remember any successful local artist or local music industry which has consistently supported her career here. The likes of Kuh Ledesma complain about the gradual loss of talent in our musical industry, yet have we heard of them actively and consistently supporting aspiring but talented musicians by promoting them on television, or by sponsoring their albums for the market to see? I don’t think so.

And how are the foreign artists to blame in this tragedy? Who were the ones complacent about the current state of OPM, leading to a period of mediocrity, where sub-standard local artists, with the backing of the OPM industry itself, churn out colorless revivals and monotonous musical styles? How are the foreign artists to blame for our own negligence, as local talent is wasted because the industry was not observant enough to so much as give them a sideways glance?

Moreover, how is distorting the market preference going to solve anything?

Ovation Productions head Renen De Guia, promoter of countless shows by foreign performers for many years, thinks regulation is not the answer.

“Everywhere in the world, markets are opening up. That’s the meaning of going global. We cannot go back to the old ways. We need to compete and we are competing beautifully,” he pointed out.

While I do not really agree with his last statement, it is very true that the music industry is going global, and so does market preference. We must therefore adapt to the changes of times. Will restriction of choices in music ensure massive support for OPM?

Acclaimed music video director Robert Quebral also believes that preventing foreign acts from performing here will not automatically translate to better patronage of local performers and submits that “they simply don’t share the same market.”

Indeed, because you can never truly change what people desire, unless you work your way through it by following the law of supply and demand; give something spectacular that no other supplier can give, and demand will naturally come.

It might be safe to say that artists like Kuh Ledesma know next to nothing about economics, nor do they intend to directly tackle the root of the matter; the sheer lack of creativity in our OPM industry.

Instead, they put the blame on something else; their competitors, the foreign artists. They want the good ones out to give people the impression that OPM is good by itself. Simply put, while intentions are a matter of dispute, they are contributing to the culture of mediocrity our society has suffered from all these years, and they are keen on killing off the symptoms by suggesting intake of painkillers, a.k.a. market restrictions. In the process, Kuh Ledesma and company only confirm that Philippine music can never match its foreign counterpart, which will in all likelihood discourage local talent even further.

Still, the truth remains to be seen by Filipinos. If our music industry really wants to get back on its feet, then it needs to get its creative juices flowing. Start looking beyond the pool of mediocre artists that constitute the majority of mainstream OPM, and start searching for undiscovered talent to prevent the loss of the likes of Cynthia Alexander. Introduce new musical genres. Incentivize would-be artists to create something new. Think outside the box. Create and innovate! Isn’t this what art is all about? Let the Philippines know why you are working for an artistic trade.

No amount of market distortion can conceal the deteriorating quality of our local music, nor would it bring satisfaction to anyone. A market works best through competition, for competition brings out the best in everyone. It is not an overstatement to say that it is only through a renaissance of creative OPM can we truly salvage its ailing condition.

Are Filipino artists up to the task?

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About Arche

I'm just throwing ideas around. I also love coffee.

Post Author: Arche

I'm just throwing ideas around. I also love coffee.

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41 Comments on "Kuh Ledesma and the Decay of OPM"

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Baron Von Cruzer
Guest

I’m reminded of Canadian regulations that require some radio stations (government supported ones, I assume.) to play only Canadian artists.

The result?

These stations can’t play Bryan Adams because of his collaborators.

This was 20 years ago. I believe the specific issue was that in his current album, all the songs were co-written by producer, Mutt Lange, who is British.

Gogs
Member

You are close Baron. I remember that issue too. The album was Waking Up The Neighbours. For those not familiar the governing body known as the CRTC at the time had a quota called Canadian content. There were very specific guidelines to qualify as Canadian content. Despite his obvious Canadian connection he did not meet the criteria therefore not entitled to the protection guaranteed by that quota in terms of airplay.

jepu
Guest

i remember my dad ask while i watched, jason mraz song, “why can’t filipinos do something like this?”. my honest answer was that if filipinos stop copying and start something more creative rather than just singing covers on crazy noon time shows.

if this kuh ledesma wants the prime back, rather than looking into the past, just be creative and push the boundaries. make original GOOD songs.

Jetlag807
Guest

ABSOLUTELY!

Cowboy Santos
Guest

music is music. good and bad. foreign and local.
how ignorant of these local “artists” to even want to limit the number of foreign acts.
once you start limiting, judging, and condemning you will look dated and OLD.

kitoy
Guest

Ayaw nila ng foreign acts pero ang mga songs na nasa albums nila either revivals or songs ng foreign artist with their own rendition. Kung mgconcert sila, revivals parin at foreign artist’s songs with their own rendition. Now who wan’t to pay for that crap? I might as well listen to the original artist. We might as well change our govenment to communism if they want to control which music they want us to hear.

It’s unfortunate to hear what Jim and Kuh say about the issue (or non-issue). Given their age they would’ve been wiser by now.

JayandSilentBobStrikeback
Guest
JayandSilentBobStrikeback

EXACTLY. These tools cry about how foreigners are taking their gigs or what not but what do their lackluster 15 song line-ups consist of? Revivals of old American and Pinoy songs of their rendition! If they want a state-run radio so bad, they can have it. In fact, Lupe Fiasco has them beat to it already.

http://youtu.be/2QKYUtemTs0

It is the theme song of the Aquinos Presidential regime.

brianitus
Guest
I wonder why they still cry out for a level playing field. When Jim and Kuh started out, they still had to compete with establish artists (foreign and local). have they forgotten that the market has and will always be that way? My goodness. The moment you cry for regulation just to survive, it means that either you come up with a better product or just simply retire. Cynthia Alexander is doing the right thing. Since the market here is not that receptive to her brand of music, it’s better that she finds a new one. In my mind, it’s… Read more »
JayandSilentBobStrikeback
Guest
JayandSilentBobStrikeback

The local bands are hungry. If they were given the ability to tour the world and properly promoted, they wouldn’t develop a mindset like Kuh or Jim. They understand that their music is universal and reaching out to a global appeal will leave them with much success than pursuing a purely pinoy audience.

brianitus
Guest

Exactly. Me, I love a good rock show. The local bands can deliver. Kita naman natin, di ba? Rock fests featuring local bands are almost always super packed!!

Maybe they should break away from the dinosaur thinking of Kuh and Jim.

BenK
Editor

Dingbats like Jim Paredes and this walking stack of makeup ought to learn to keep their mouths shut. Best way to have foreign music overwhelm the local market? Ban it.

Hugh
Guest

I seem to recall Channel V saying something like Philippine acts now dominating 80% of the market compared to 15-20 years ago.

And in the business, you have to be fresh, dynamic, and have lots of energy to break into the market. Talent is optional, BTW.

OPM is dying? Hell no, but given the choice between Jose Mari Chan and Up Dharma Down (or even Mike Hanopol), I’d certainly pick the latter. Come on, Kuh Ledesma and Jim Paredes can only appeal to a smaller demograph with their genre, and now they’re blaming foreigners for their rut? What logic is in that?

alconce
Guest
What does Kuh Ledesma meant when she says OPM. There is no such thing. Our local singers pretends to be OPM but what comes of their mouth says otherwise. Our local singers change their vocal chords according to what is popular.When the motown sound invaded our shores, everyone sounded like big soul sister/brother, the Beegees came and every boyband perfected the “boses pusa”. The likes of Britney, Shakira and Dolores de Riordan came and all the female singers tried to sound one of them. Cynthia Alexander was a very talented singer. I’d seen and heard her sing many times in… Read more »
Gogs
Member

You are so right , this coming from somebody who saw Hagibis in 1979 when they opened for Bonnie Tyler. When Men At Work was popular there was a local group that covered their songs called Working Men. And they were on the airwaves. What I think you are saying alonce is we produce inferior copies yet we expect better commercial response.

JayandSilentBobStrikeback
Guest
JayandSilentBobStrikeback
Funny how local bands that got big like Parokya and their ilk pretty much imitated the western pop rock sound that the Philippines has been behind on for like, 10-15 years now? And yet they haven’t talked smack about foreign rock acts that they have gained success from making covers out of them. If anything, those guys like Kuh and Jim are covering up for their lack of vision and putting their money where their mouth is. K-Pop execs managed to match the sounds the west had for pop-r’n’b and thus found a lofty situation with a market in the… Read more »
chris
Guest
WOW, regulating the music industry, what a marvel idea! Oh wait, sarcasm doesn’t play out well in type. In all honesty, the music industry here (aside from a few select bands) is completely lame, UNoriginal, and lacking in any substance whatsoever. Competition is ALWAYS a good thing as it keeps everyone involved in the industry on their toes and should provide for a better product. People like the music that they like and keeping out foreign music that people enjoy is not going to make them like the local music any more than they ever would have. When you allow… Read more »
sanjo
Guest
I don’t see anything wrong in what Kuh Ledesma wants to happen. In fact, it would be beneficial to local talents because government would be doing something for their protection and opportunity to grow. And the idea is not really new. In fact, it has been tried before and produced quite a success in nurturing, developing and promoting Original Pilipino Music (OPM). Why not do it again? Like it or not, foreign artists or music will always be there. The only thing we can do to at least protect our local talents to survive from their onslaught is provide protection… Read more »
Arche
Guest
I wonder… “I don’t see anything wrong in what Kuh Ledesma wants to happen. In fact, it would be beneficial to local talents because government would be doing something for their protection and opportunity to grow.” * Why punish those who met the demands of the market by depriving them of the opportunity to continue meeting it? Why punish the consumers by limiting what they can see and by distorting their choices? Why set the faultless at a disadvantage for the sake of unnoticed local artists, when there is another way? “Still, the truth remains to be seen by Filipinos.… Read more »
sanjo
Guest
-Because the market demands it does not mean we should be subservient to all its wants already. I don’t agree with that. There is such a thing as ‘control’ which Kuh Ledesma was suggesting. Not a complete halt, not outright prohibition but rational control of flow of foreign talents in the country. “Why punish those who met the demands of the market by depriving them of the opportunity to continue meeting it?” – But what about the ‘opportunity’ of our local talents? Don’t you think we should prioritize addressing their concern before focusing on the opportunity for others? And I… Read more »
brianitus
Guest
@sanjo/jonas: Haven’t you heard of the term “free market”? Let’s just turn the tables around a bit. What if the USA banned “artists” like Charice and Arnel Pineda because they want to prioritize their local acts? Would that be fair? The regulation you want is something like that. Parang yung reklamo dati ni Lea Salonga na bakit nagconcert si Anne Curtis. Why give opportunity to other people when existing market participants should be prioritized? This brings me to my next point: marketing. Imho, a properly marketed Filipino artist/fake artist does not need to use government resources that can be allocated… Read more »
Arche
Guest
“Because the market demands it does not mean we should be subservient to all its wants already.” Why punish the consumers by limiting what they can see and by distorting their choices? Why set the faultless at a disadvantage for the sake of unnoticed local artists, when there is another way? “Not a complete halt, not outright prohibition but rational control of flow of foreign talents in the country.” What exactly is a “rational control”? What are the exact parameters for something to be considered a “rational control”? “But what about the ‘opportunity’ of our local talents? Don’t you think… Read more »
sanjo
Guest

brianitus

Sir, I think you’re too much ahead of the discussion. There’s no “ban” yet. We’re still on Kuh’s idea about putting a limit or control on the flow of foreign talents in the country.

With regard to free market, even they exercises some form of control or restraint.

No offense meant, Anne Curtis as a singer is a joke.

brianitus
Guest

sanjo,

I think you missed the point.

And Anne Curtis as a singer WAS a joke.

Comprehend before replying naman.

sanjo
Guest
“Why punish the consumers by limiting what they can see and by distorting their choices? Why set the faultless at a disadvantage for the sake of unnoticed local artists, when there is another way?” – Arche -But foreign gov’ts. also have a system where they protect and support their local talents against foreign competition. If they can have such kind of system why can’t we do the same? If you will look at it as “punishing the consumer” the Pilipino music industry will never make it. It can never be salvage from oblivion as you just wished. Impossible. ——- “What… Read more »
brianitus
Guest
sanjo, pahabol lang. Are you assuming that foreign acts will always make more money than local shows? That can be the case for really big acts. However, there are also lesser known acts that come over. They cater to select listeners. Sometimes, their shows are not even full. Regulation assumes that foreign brands will always outperform locals, agree? I watch both local and foreign acts perform. My decision to watch their shows is out of my preference, not something dictated to me by gov’t. I think I would like to keep it that way. Limiting or rationalizing the flow means… Read more »
sanjo
Guest

“Are you assuming that foreign acts will always make more money than local shows?” – brianitus

-No, sir.
——-
“Regulation assumes that foreign brands will always outperform locals, agree?” – brianitus

-No, sir. It’s not about outperforming one another. It’s about providing opportunities for local talents by prioritizing and supporting them.

Gogs
Member

Sanjo/ Jonas Whatever your name is. Let’s say you have a favorite restaurant. They earned your patronage by providing quality. Who am I to take away page 2 and tell you that in it’s place I am giving you selections from somebody not as good? The answer in a free market is that person put up their goods and services and compete with what is already there. Not to go and deprive people of things they would normally consume on their own. I could have sworn the Iron Curtain already went down.

brianitus
Guest
Sanjonas: “It’s not about outperforming one another. It’s about providing opportunities for local talents by prioritizing and supporting them.” What kind of support? Regulating competition? There is already a natural barrier to entry sa Pilipinas. It’s expensive to put up shows of foreign acts. Heck, the market may even be too small for some acts. Tingin ko lang, if you can’t make a good product to compete in a market, and you’re going to cry about it, wag ka na lang makilahok. Teka nga. I’m going to bow out of this discussion. I’m not from the music industry. I don’t… Read more »
Arche
Guest
Ugh, this conversation is getting more and more bland by the minute. 🙁 “But foreign gov’ts. also have a system where they protect and support their local talents against foreign competition. If they can have such kind of system why can’t we do the same?” Again, where is your proof? Charice and Arnel Pineda are Filipinos, but they can perform abroad, and many foreigners actually support them. “If you will look at it as “punishing the consumer” the Pilipino music industry will never make it. It can never be salvage from oblivion as you just wished. Impossible.” So that’s how… Read more »
domo
Guest
Oh sanjo please grow up! You’re playing the victim card here. I’m still listening to some OPM artists with great music especially indie bands like Techy Romantics (IMO the Filipino indie and rock bands can make far more better original songs than those lame OPM artists). But limiting the music industry market only because OPM is “dying”? What a lazy, dictating coward you are to make a move like that. This is not a war between countries you moron. It’s called competition. OPM artists can’t provide a great and original music? That is their problem. If they wanna be popular,… Read more »
Jackass
Guest

Arche,

Great article I fully support it.

Competition promotes creativity resulting to a better product. It is a hard pill to swallow for our music industry and the OPM as well because they are too lazy to innovate.

I give them credit finding Sarah Geronemo, but it has been a long time since. I am too tired listening to her almost the same tunes. Boring….

Innovate like what you said is the key. What they doing to find a new and promising talent?

Oh, by the way, I love coffee (barako)too.

Arche
Guest

Exactly my point. Thanks for reading!

Oh, and like you, I too have a thing for black coffee. 🙂

Gogs
Member

“I drink my coffee black as the midnight sun” – Special Agent Dale Cooper. . Count me in on black coffee.

chris
Guest

@ Sanjo, any control is wrong in a free market…PERIOD! Foreign artist do not have to allocate government resources to bring them fame and fortune, these artists simply provide what their audience wants. It’s just that simple. Until OPM provides good, original music, the scene will stay as a desert wasteland.

TaengGorbachev
Guest
The OPM artists believe that the opium that they smoke is the ultimate solution to their problem. Heck, true that diversity is needed for music but then again, in my perspective, music these days is not as diverse as they seem. In the Western mainstream, for example, crap after crap are produced(Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Rebecca Black, and soon, Double Take) just like in the Philippines. The uniformity of the musical status quo is that anything that will cater to teenagers are heavily supported, but those that may have more contributions to music(like metal bands, esp. extreme metal bands) don’t… Read more »
Perry R.
Guest

I remember from my German class that “Kuh” means “cow”. Just a thought. 😛

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[…] — often politically-backed — mainstream artists. The latter are even lobbying hard to curtail the entry of foreign artists wanting to perform in the country in order to protect the local […]

Jetlag807
Guest

I do not agree with Kuh Ledesma (and other singers) and their support for so-called OPM to the detriment of foreign acts . Sorry to say it guys but OPM nowadays is nothing more than cover-songs of popular US and UK songs! How is this OIRGINAL Philippine Music?

itchyBB
Guest

Currently at Cynthia Alexander’s send off party at Conspiracy. A brilliant artist. Nice song arrangements. Amazing to say the least.
But it is still an epic fail. She made the audience wait for almost 2hours. The enthusiasm I felt just went flat line.
Maybe if local artists learn to repect audiences’ time, they’d have more support. Not that I am saying foreign artists do not do the same (Cranberries concert started an hour late) but consodering the level of pagoging sikat, local artists need to overcompensate…ok i am blabbing coz i am tired…tired waiting…haists..

Lasavoy
Guest
Great article and I do agree about OPM’s decay. After trying to understand the current genres and music that’s playing on our local radios, I just can’t help to ask myself..”Why?”. Are these the only bands/artist that play these days? Why do they suck so much? I’m not sure if they’re still trying to copy foreign material or stick to our roots but it seems that when they do, it’s extreme and it becomes corny. The only thing prevalent now is “ang baduy ng mga kanta nila”. New material is currently being blasted out there but I guess they do… Read more »
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