[B-SIDE Podcast] QuaranTunes: The local music industry during the pandemic

 [B-SIDE Podcast] QuaranTunes: The local music industry during the pandemic

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The local music industry has had to say goodbye to significant gig spots that just couldn’t survive the pandemic, no matter how well-loved they were.

As the country prepares to ease restrictions, B-Side takes stock of what it’s been like for local and independent musicians to collaborate and perform in a socially distanced world.

Vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the local alternative pop band Any Name’s Okay Renzo R. Lumanog has performed in venues such as Route 196 on Katipunan Avenue and in international music festivals in Taiwan. The band, formed in 2017 in the University of the Philippines Music Circle, garners millions of streams across digital platforms worldwide.

In this B-Side episode, Mr. Lumanog talks to BusinessWorld reporter John Victor D. Ordoñez about venues closing down, people losing jobs, and musicians pursuing their passion.

TAKEAWAYS

Online collaboration is here to stay.

Over the pandemic, musicians used online platforms like Zoom to compose new songs and continue projects since in-person band rehearsals weren’t permitted.

“Collaborating online has taught us how to streamline our music creation process which we believe is a lesson we can take with us after the pandemic,” Mr. Lumanog said, adding that maintaining a connection with his bandmates throughout the lockdown period was a struggle.

“A lot of musicians right now have either stopped making music, and there are some who have released more music than they ever have, there is a scale there,” he added.

The people behind the scenes are unsung heroes.

Local bands have “roadies,” technical teams that accompany musicians and assist in setting up live shows. Roadies suffered the most during the pandemic because of the absence of live events.

“People don’t realize how close roadies are to bands, they go above and beyond just the live shows,” Mr. Lumanog said.

Fundraisers were organized to give back to these people behind the scenes since most of the roadies were in-house staff of famed venues such as Route 196 and Tomato Kick, which were forced to close down.

“It was really heartbreaking to see,” said Mr. Lumanog. “Music, in general, was hit really hard because of this [the pandemic].”

Know who you are as an artist.

“My first piece of advice would be to love the music that you’re making, you need to keep yourself motivated. You also need to love and appreciate your bandmates,” said Mr. Lumanog. “Build connections, not just feeble connections to make extra money, but connections that are lasting that will push you to directions you want to go.”

However, artists should also learn to diversify while staying true to their goals as a band or as an act.

“Diversify in the sense of knowing who you are as a musician, and using platforms like social media to your advantage,” said Mr. Lumanog. “You don’t necessarily need to do the most popular trends in music now just to be relevant … that is not the point of music unless you’re purely into the business side of it. It’s about getting your niche.”

Recorded remotely on Jan. 28, 2022. Produced by John Victor D. Ordoñez, Jino D. Nicolas, and Sam L. Marcelo. Music used with permission from John’s Dirty Old Sneakers.

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