Popular mass media has become such a big part in the lives of most Filipinos that for many of them, anything and everything fed into their TV sets, for example, constitute all that is relevant in this world. If it is not on TV, it is not worth knowing about, and consequently, not worth talking about.
I talk of the thick media-dependent masses that make up the biggest segment of our third-world society. I talk of those who delight in celebrity loveteams, slapstick comedy, and Pinoy Big Brother. For lack of a better term, I shall call this horde the media-slaves. I could probably think of a more demeaning term but I wish not to insult some members of my family and practically everyone in our neighborhood.
To these people, a rock band, any rock band, is irrelevant, even nonexistent, if they don’t see your video on TV music channels. Until then, your band is not worth knowing about, and consequently, not worth talking about. Independently released albums, underground gigs, self-produced shows, etc, are worth nothing to this myopic horde. To them, even the most annoying new band with the crappiest video is still the new band to watch if only because their formulaic video is on heavy rotation on TV. Never mind that their hype is nothing but orchestrated and manufactured by the labels. To these media-slaves, there is only hype and to them, hype is gospel truth.
To them, talent is irrelevant. Whether you have it or not is not as important as whether you’re on TV or not. I fear it is not that these people fail to recognize or appreciate real talent. It is much worse. They have grown accustomed to media feeding them the content and the hype that they have long since given up on deciding for themselves. Bad enough that TV has cultivated bad taste, worse, TV has encouraged sloth.
I’ve only recently begun to appreciate this sad but simple fact. The years we invested in our band certainly amounted for a lot of history and certainly a lot of learning experiences for us and for our music. But the attention we got throughout all those long struggling years were nothing compared to what we now recently enjoy since we had our videos out in rotation in the music channels.
Having a video out makes you exist in the eyes of the media-slaves. Your first video debut then is your band launch.
Sadly, all this is something that we, as a band, probably would have never fully appreciated if not for us stumbling on a willing talent manager who understood how the game was played. Music, the message, will always be music: powerful and affecting. But media is and always will be the messenger, thus the key.
Media truly works! Sadly, it is only now that I can say that line with such solid belief and conviction. Remarkable and truly embarrassing for someone who’s worked in advertising for more than ten years.
As it is, our band now knows better. We now plan for videos together with album launches and promotions. When before, it was just flyers, T-shirts, buttons, and posters, now there’s video concepts and rough storyboards. In short, we now try and play the game the way the major labels do. Though we are still independent and only rely on labels for distribution, our approach now is more attuned to the ground rules of the game that is music promotion. So how are we different from them, the labels I have always referred to in unflattering terms? Are we not the same as them? Are we not all guilty of playing this dirty sport? Most certainly, for if there is any difference it is only in degree.
I believe though there is mitigation in our crime of playing this corrupt game. After all, we’re not after the trophies or medals. What we’re after is the sheer joy of the sport. Not the money but the music. My statements are certainly self-serving, I admit, but so is our music. Self-serving in the sense that they are written mainly for our pleasure as artists and only secondly as entertainment for others.
So if in the end, we serve only to muddle the playing field more and not make much of a difference on the tally board, at least the spectators have more players to root for. Not everyone after all, roots for the marquee players, right?