COVID-19 or no COVID-19, PhilPop will go on

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Song tilt partners with Warner Music for promotion

DESPITE an ongoing global pandemic, the biennial songwriting competition PhilPop Music Festival will continue to “break borders” to push Philippine music forward to the global stage, partnering with music label Warner Music Philippines to promote the songs of the competition.

“[W]e are an international major record label. We do have a network of A&R and marketing people all around the world. In terms of judging and production process, we’ll bring that unique value of this presence to the project. We share this ambition to elevate the Filipino artist to a global stage. It’s a difficult path, but I think with our partnership, we can improve the odds,” Ian Monsod, managing director of Warner Music Philippines, said during a July 2 digital briefing held via Zoom.

Warner Music Philippines is part of the multinational music label Warner Music Group, considered one of the biggest music labels in the world alongside Universal Records and Sony Music Entertainment. Locally, the label has signed artists such as Keiko Necesario, Ben&Ben, the rapper Quest, and many others.

Now on it’s eighth installment, the songwriting competition — fashioned after the defunct Metro Manila Popular Music Festival or Metropop which was held annually from 1978 to 1985 — is continuing its focus on “decentralizing the monopoly of support to Metro Manila [artists]” by “giving equal opportunity to the next generation of singer-songwriters based in other cities and provinces, regardless of their identity, language and cultural affiliation,” said Dinah Remolacio, PhilPop Music Fest Foundation executive director, during the same briefing.

During the 2018 competition, the festival’s organizers — which include National Artist for Music Raymundo “Ryan” Cayabyab and folk singer Noel Cabangon — reported that they had seen a marked increase in submissions from the Visayas and Mindanao after the competition shifted from being an annual one as it had been from 2012 to 2016, to biennial in 2017, using the gap year to hold songwriting camps to better encourage and teach aspiring artists from around the country.

The 2018 installment saw Davao songwriter Chud Festejo win the grand prize for the song “Nanay Tatay.”

“When we had [a] major pivot… the first thing that we did [was] to make the festival biennial. In between those years, we mounted all these songwriting workshops in different parts of the country to empower other songwriters in the region, so that they could submit entries to PhilPop. We want to diversify the winning entries in every festival,” Ms. Remolacio said.

This year, submissions will be grouped into four regions: Metro Manila, South Luzon, North Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Of the “thousands of songs submitted,” according to a release, only three songwriters will be chosen to represent each region “through [a] rigorous adjudication process spearheaded by Warner Music Philippines and PhilPop.”

The top 15 will be working with Warner Music to polish their songs and compete in the finals scheduled on Nov. 14, though no announcement has been made whether there will still be a live finals concert or will it be only a digital finals’ night because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The finalists for each region will be announced starting Oct. 2 in Mindanao until Oct. 30 for Metro Manila.

The winner of the PhilPop music festival will get P1 million (tax-free) while the first runner up will get P500,000 and the second runner-up P250,000. — Zsarlene B. Chua