Noel Cabangon: I didn't sell out

Posted at 09/20/2012 8:32 PM | Updated as of 09/21/2012 12:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon doesn’t think he has “sold out” even after he agreed to sign up with a major record label and released two top-selling albums of OPM covers.

Noel Cabangon performs during a press conference for his upcoming solo concert at the
Music Museum on September 28. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

Speaking to reporters at the height of the debate regarding the future of original Pilipino music (OPM), Cabangon, who started as a so-called indie artist, also said he realized the importance of marketing in reaching out to the music consumers.

“I still continue to do what I want at intact pa naman ang mga prinsipyo ko sa buhay,” he said about the perception that he has “sold out.” “Siyempre tingin ‘yan ng iba, pero kung buo naman ang sarili mo, okay ka naman.”

“Ako naman I do what I do. Hindi ko tinalikuran ‘yung mga ginagawa ko. I still write songs that are socially relevant and I’ve written more songs that are socially relevant today compared to other artists -- songs that are concerned about the environment or about patriotism.”

Cabangon, who is preparing for a solo concert at the Music Museum for his album “Tuloy ang Biyahe” on September 28, also noted that some indie artists tend to be wary of the commercial music scene.

“Meron din kasing 'yung attitude na nagsasara kasi iba kami (mga indie artists) which I think is wrong,” he said. “Kasi the reason why we're creating music is that more people should be able to hear it, especially if you have a message. Dapat nariring. 

“’Yung pa-iba, o pa-awa, i think it's a defense, dapat hindi. We all want OPM to prosper to be the dominant music on the airwaves, so let's do something. …Tingin ko dapat magsasama. Who doesn't want his or her song to be heard on radio, to be promoted?”

For Cabangon, marketing is important since it is about persuading consumers to buy music. “I didn't have that support mechanism when I was still in the indie/alternative,” he said, noting that he would usually just sell his albums during gigs.  

He said many of his colleagues in the indie scene are just looking to recoup their investment and maybe earn a little enough to create another record.

“Kailangan din makita ng mga indie artists ‘yung how to promote it and how to market,” he said.

As to the industry’s penchant of rehasing old material, Cabangon acknowledged that there needs to be a push to create new music. But at the same time, he said he understands the record labels because they are operating a business.

“You can't also blame the record labels. Kailangan din nila ano ba ‘yung pwede, saan sila kikita. We have to admit that this is a negosyo; it’s not just pushing a cultural agenda. They’re putting money, hindi naman pwedeng magpapalugi ka lang,” he said.

“But there's also a need to instill that valuation of original Filipino works, and the new works and ano ‘yung commitment nila to OPM in pushing it forward,” he said, as he proposed to hold a summit involving all sectors of the music industry, including consumers.

“Hindi naman kasalanan ‘yan ng record labels or creators; kasalanan din ng bumibili.It takes two to tango. Dapat lahat ng stakeholkderes including the consumers, kasama,” he said.

So is OPM dead?

“I don't think it’s dead,” Cabangon declared.

“Naniniwala ako na maraming kanta kaso walang venue na marinig at ma-promote. How do we help the industry and the other artists to move OPM forward? ‘Yun talaga ‘yung challenge.”