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RAIMUND Marasigan INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Local rock artists Franco Reyes and Gabby Alipe consider themselves old-school music lovers, who prefer buying music recorded in physical media such as discs and vinyl records, rather than buying and downloading online.

But with the rapid and continuous advancement of technology, the increasing popularity of digital music over the past decade or so is but a part of the industry’s natural evolution, Alipe, vocalist and guitarist of the band Urbandub, told the Inquirer.

“I like having CDs which I can hold and add to my collection, but you can’t deny that downloading music is the trend these days. It’s where the future is heading,” he said. “I’m very open to it.”

For Reyes, it’s just a matter of preference—owning something tangible versus convenience. “Digital music is much easier and faster to distribute and obtain. But either way, as long as people support OPM and keep it alive, then it’s all good,” he said.

Alipe pointed out that with more Filipinos getting wired to the Internet, it isn’t very surprising that local online music portals are starting to sprout such as OPM2Go and My Music Store Philippines. “Almost everybody—even the masses—has a mobile phone or gadget that lets them connect them to the Net,” he said.

Just recently, Smart struck a deal with MCA Music that would make three million tracks in the label’s international catalogue available to all Smart, Talk ‘N Text and Sun Cellular

GABBY Alipe

subscribers via Smart Music (www.smart.com.ph/music). Regular songs are priced at P15, while newer hits cost P20.

Unlike Reyes and Alipe, singer-songwriter Barbie Almalbis said that she now favors downloadable music—“no contest.” “Looking at album cover art and perusing booklets that come with CDs is fun. But after more than 10 years of collecting CDs, they become clutter,” Barbie explained. “With digital music, I can put my library in a hard drive and take it with me everywhere.”

She continued: “The Internet has also opened the doors to all artists. In the past, you can’t record unless a label spots you. Now you can record in your bathroom and share your music!”

Sandwich’s Raimund Marasigan, on the other hand,  prefers both. “I’m a big music fan, and I make it a point to buy an artist’s CD and its digital release,” he said.

According to Marasigan, digitial media is instantaneous. “Once you release a song, your fans can listen to it right away, and they don’t need to go out of their homes just to buy it.”

But while most artists are more than willing, or are already embracing digital music, they agree that there should be laws that will protect their rights and help curb online piracy.

BARBIE Almalbis

“One of the biggest problems we face today is piracy. And whether we like it or not, pirates will find ways to exploit the music industry,” Alipe said. “I’m all for digital music, but there should be laws.”

For Almalbis, having local online music stores such as OPM2Go, Smart Music and My Music Store Philippines is good for the local music industry, because it could encourage consumers to download tracks or albums legally at a reasonable price.

“At least these online stores present choices,” Almalbis said.

Meanwhile, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) president Ogie Alcasid said that piracy was something that “artists have to live with.” “Piracy is not going anywhere. We just have to deal with it, work our way around it and lobby for more support,” Alcasid said.

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