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There’s Bad Blood: What Taylor’s ownership battle is telling us

Artistic rights have been a long-standing issue in the industry. It is shady enough to manipulatively take the rights of an artist’s records. Yet, to exploit their hard work is plainly immoral. However, this move is not new in an industry like this. 

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Taylor Swift during the MTV Awards 2019 | Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris from Getty Images

From Kanye West to Katy Perry, Taylor Swift is once again stuck in feud. I’m going to let you finish, but this one does not involve an ex-boyfriend or a fellow artist. This is a battle that it involves her career as an artist and a whole lot more.  

The internet is in outrage after 29-year-old pop singer Taylor Swift released a statement regarding her battle against music mogul Scooter Braun and former label CEO Scott Borchetta. If you’re only waking up to this news, let me give you some knowledge about what’s happening.

Last November 2018, Taylor announced her departure from long-time music label Big Machine Records. She then went to sign with another music label. Recently this year, her former label has been acquired by Scooter Braun. Yes, it’s the same Scooter Braun who manages other pop artists like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. What seems to be another business move has turned the tides for her. For a hefty price of $300 million, Scooter has acquired not only the recording label but also the rights to her music catalogue. So, what does this mean exactly? 

Taylor, who is scheduled to receive the Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards, wishes to perform a medley of her hits for the past decade. However, she states that Scooter and Scott are preventing her to use her prior releases in her performance and in an upcoming Netflix documentary about her life. They claim that this would technically be re-recording her old music—something she is not allowed to do until next year. 

 

Big Machine Records has since then denied the accusations. In a statement to CNN, the label defended that, “Taylor Swift can 100% perform all her catalog, past and present, on the AMAs. Big Machine has no issue with her performance going out on the live broadcast, because it recognizes it doesn’t have the right to block her”. 

As much as we’d like to excuse ourselves from this narrative, we are consumers that only get to see and hear the end products. For every song we stream and every concert we attend, we contribute to the profit of companies and their artists. This controversy is bringing visibility and spreading awareness on what goes down behind every song that goes out in the market and how artists are treated. 

Artistic rights have been a long-standing issue in the industry. It is shady enough to manipulatively take the rights of an artist’s records. Yet, to exploit their hard work is plainly immoral. However, this move is not new in an industry like this. 

In Karl Marx’s theory of alienated labor, factory labor under capitalism separates the workers from the products they create. These products would then be sent off to different places for others to make money out of it. In this case, the record an artist produces are those of which that are distributed to music platforms. As they are consumed, record labels gain profit from them. Under the rules of capitalism, the artists are detached from the products they make. The only way out, according to Marx, is for the workers to revolt and fight the system which is what Taylor is doing in social media.  

The music industry can be very toxic because of executives that bend the rules in their favor. For years, many artists have fallen victim to this abuse of power and it’s sad to think that their life’s work and creativity are held hostage by an ink deal and a few pages of paper.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only issues coming into light. Artists who have gone through the same fate as Taylor, like JoJo, TLC, and Kesha, showed that there is a need for women to go beyond their limits in order to get what they deserve. Surprisingly enough, silencing women doesn’t only happen in the music industry. 

Gender-based discrimination caused Indian filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava’s film “Lipstick Under My Burkha” to be initially censored for being “lady-oriented”. The filmmaker admitted that she had to “fight to get the right equipment and decent studio time slots” in creating her first feature film.

Icelandic artist Borghildur Indriðadóttir witnessed her Facebook friends and photos deleted after she shared a promo of her exhibition entitled, DEMONCRAZY, that featured photos of topless women standing in front of portraits of older men in public buildings. She defended that her exhibition was purposely made for people to question why numerous paintings of men that used to rule in power are seen in public buildings. 

Rather than being an environment that fosters creativity, magnates have turned the artistic industry into a strategic gameplay between them and their artists. With the power they hold, it’s as though they are puppet masters who benefit from the public by shamelessly controlling their marionettes. 

If a situation like this is happening to a mainstream artist like Taylor, what goes on behind closed doors for those who are just starting out? This on-going war between Taylor and her former label executives is creating a big step not only for artists with established careers but also for those who are waiting to sign their future record deal.

This is a fight for the budding artists who spend sleepless nights to release their first single without even knowing that it won’t be theirs in the future. Artists deserve ownership and credit for what they create. It’s high time for executives to serve them that justice. 

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TOMCAT jazzes it up with ‘Tunog Tomasino: Wonder in Rhythm’

This year’s artists spoke resonant themes of love, empowerment, nationalism, Filipino culture, advocacy, social issues, and emotions.  

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Photo courtesy of Instagram/TOMCAT

Brought together by music and poetry, Thomasian artists entered another year of showcasing their musicality and artistry in TOMCAT’S ‘Tunog Tomasino.’ Despite the fact that this was the first-ever online ‘Tunog Tomasino’ event since 2019, their vibrant impact still broke through.

Adhering to this year’s theme, “#WonderInRhythm,” the fruitful online concert held on Nov. 27, gathered a profound audience that wondrously chanted along the talentry of various performers such as Mimosa, Jan Damien Balolong, Nine Roses, Oh Stella!, Anne Catherryne Gatchalian, Anton Stefano Acosta, Ashley Nicole Macabeo, Jericho Pacia, Nicole Olalia, and Vincent Nicolas Mitra. 

Performers serenaded pleasing symphonies and verses as they spoke their hearts and souls out in their original pieces. This year’s singers, rappers, songwriters, and spoken-word artists spoke resonant themes of love, empowerment, nationalism, Filipino culture, advocacy, social issues, and emotions.  

Interactions and interviews with the hosts were present too, which gave the audience a glimpse of the artists’ inspirations of their songs and their narratives. Comments of the audience were very much given light as well. Amid the exciting performances, the organization also held a thrilling raffle through Instagram and Twitter. 

Check out TOMCAT’s social media accounts to also be updated with the ventures of this year’s diverse and talented lineup. 

Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro
Blogs Editor, Blogs Writer | + posts

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Let your unfiltered feelings flow with ‘The Purple Project’

Delve into their introspective project that fosters safe spaces for emotional health by dropping meaningful messages, joining collaborations, and copping cute apparel.  

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Photo courtesy of Hiatus Manila

For an eventful world that doesn’t seem to pause, we can’t help but sometimes want calmness to descend. In this pandemic, we tend to dilute our feelings to the side, churning down the thoughts and emotions of what we truly want to convey. 

Gazes, playlists, love languages, quality time, you name it. The mundane and spontaneous are enough to affirm us that it is okay to simply feel and take a deep breath. Akin to the color purple, consisting of different variations and tones, it tells us that our feelings can radiate in dreamy lilacs or to darker shades of solitude, making us completely valid and capable of feeling. And this is the culture of care Hiatus Manila’s The Purple Project devotes itself to. 

The Purple Project aims to echo unsaid feelings, value self-care, and reach out to those in need by evoking meaningful connections. Delve into their introspective project that fosters safe spaces for emotional health by dropping meaningful messages, joining collaborations, and copping cute apparel by referring to the mechanics: 

  1. They will be using a Google Form where the audience can drop their purple thoughts (which should be done anonymously) and they will be sharing them weekly.  
  2. They will also be posting short videos of tips and advice on how to take better care of themselves in collaboration with other artists/influencers. 
  3. Most importantly, the proceeds from this project will be allotted in establishing a foundation to provide materials/needs to target communities/partners.

In their previous projects, #HiatusCares and #ThePurpleProject, participants were encouraged to take part and post film photos that they wanted to share, especially what they miss and what they felt (e.g. missing friends and face-to-face classes). 

Photo courtesy of Hiatus Manila

But that’s not it! Get your chance to cop the “Mean It” shirts and hoodies, which contain words shared by those who participated in The Purple Thoughts drop box. Proceeds of this project will be used for donations to chosen charity.

You can also visit their Instagram: @hiatus.mnl for more updates. 

Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro
Blogs Editor, Blogs Writer | + posts

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#PpopRising: 6 P-Pop groups worth listening to

As a response to the prevalent phenomenon of K-pop, there has been a fueled interest in the renaissance of sensational P-pop groups. But which of them are worth listening to?

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Let’s get local! From the legendary APO Hiking Society to the best-selling Philippine female group of all time, SexBomb Girls, we are no strangers when it comes to local music groups. Why? It’s because we love singing, particularly songs that touch our pathos. Truth be told, our country could even become synonymous with karaoke. And it wouldn’t be long, let alone shocking, if there comes a time a Filipino will be born with a silver mic. 

But nowadays, the Korean music industry continues to dominate our domestic airwaves. Just looking on Twitter, it’s a no-brainer that many K-pop fans are also Filipinos. So as a response to this prevalent phenomenon, there has been a fueled interest in the renaissance of sensational P-pop groups. But which of them are worth listening to?

To give you an idea about our emerging P-pop acts, here are six groups that are uncontrollably rising in the local scene.

1. BGYO

Photo courtesy of Instagram/bgyo_ph

Following the classic adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it’s also the same for BGYO. Trained under Filipino and Korean mentors for two years to become idols, it was a long time coming for members Gelo, Akira, JL, Mikki, and Nate. Pronounced as “B-G-Y-O,” the all-male quintet’s arrival to the local music scene seems like an advent.

Obviously, expectations are high and the pressure is real, but they didn’t disappoint. Less than a year since their debut, BGYO proves that they’re unstoppable. 

Albeit rookies, they successfully tapped the international arena after dropping their debut album, The Light, last October. After charting in several countries, it is safe to say that they are on track with their goal to deliver empowerment and inspiration. My favorite from the album is ‘When I’m With You,’ as it reminds me of a laid-back One Direction song. 

That’s why it also seems fitting that BGYO’s fandom is called ACEs. Like the playing card, they are becoming a symbol of high quality and excellence. Not only do they offer an infusion of pop and electro-dance in their songs, but this five-member boy group also has a high sense of youthful fashion that I bet many influencers could learn a thing or two thereof.

No wonder it’s easier to pronounce their name as bagyo — a fitting mistake that makes sense because they’re poised to be the baddest storm of them all. 

2. BINI

Photo courtesy of Instagram/bini_ph

Being the sister group of BGYO in Star Hunt Academy, the irresistible girl group BINI first appeared in public with their captivating rendition of Ryan Cayabyab’s nostalgic novelty song,Da Coconut Nut.’ And of course, there’s no doubt that their fanbase, called Bloom, would grow upon watching their first-ever music video. But frankly, it’s not a walk in the park for members Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena.

Together with BGYO, BINI has been working hard over the past two years. So for them, coming on stage together is more than a dream come true. Eventually, they debuted with a rather familiar song, ‘Born to Win,’ which gives me an early 2010s electro-pop vibe. But don’t let that stop you from listening to them. 

Indeed, I stand corrected upon listening to BINI’s debut album with the same name. ‘Born to Win’ contains bops, from the funky ‘Golden Arrow,’ to the euphoric ‘Kapit Lang’—all of which you can tune in all day long, all year long. With their charming voices and flawless dance moves, they are definitely worthy of numerous praises. 

Similar to their brother group, Born to Win is a testament to BINI’s future aspirations of global fame. In fact, the sibling groups recently had their first online concert, ‘One Dream,’ last Nov. 6 and 7. And perhaps, there are more concerts to come for the girls of BINI.

3. ALAMAT

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Official_ALAMAT

Want to stan a group that is extremely proud to represent their Filipino roots? Say no more.

Multilingual group ALAMAT loves to experiment with their singles. Starting their journey with debut single, ‘kbye,’ the eight-member act absolutely understood the assignment. Combining several Filipino languages in a catchy breakup song is like virtually visiting the different regions of the country.

ALAMAT comprises of Taneo, Mo, Tomas, R-ji, Valfer, Alas, Gami, and Jao. Each one of them is a representation of our deep and immemorial Filipino culture. The group’s distinctive sense of style, which is derived from traditional Filipino influences, has been their brand.

Daring to be unique and legendary, ALAMAT will pull off anything up their sleeve, even if that means getting out of their comfort zone. And that is visually evident in the music video for their single, ‘kasmala,’ which is a hot take on discrimination towards Filipinos.

Moving to their latest single, ALAMAT’s sentimental take on the 2011 Chavacano hit ‘Porque,’ originally sung by Maldita, is also a feast for the ears. A trip down memory lane, these extraordinary boys mix lo-fi together with traditional Filipino instruments in a way to declare to the world how versatile they are. Might as well add it on your study playlist!

4. LITZ

Photo courtesy of Twitter/official_litz

There’s a new girl (group) in town, and they’re ready to shine!

Within a few days after releasing their pre-debut single, ‘Natataranta,’ LITZ already accumulated more than 250,000 views and 25,000 likes on its music video. A JaDine fan would know that LITZ’s single is actually a cover of James Reid’s song in the 2014 teen romcom film Diary ng Panget. But what, or rather, who prepared them to be ready?

It was no other than celebrated choreographer Teacher Georcelle, the founder of the dance company G-Force and who was also the one who coined the group’s name. If you’re unfamiliar with her, she’s basically the mastermind behind the iconic choreography of Sarah Geronimo’s ‘Tala,’ the 2015 record-breaking hit that became a dance craze after resurfacing on TikTok.

With that kind of expertise, members Ashtine, Heart, Fatima, Bianca, and Yumi definitely learned from the best. And needless to say, it manifested in their praiseworthy performance of ‘Natataranta.’

Unfortunately, if you’re asking when they are going to release their official debut single, there’s no specific date yet. On a positive note, you can always check out LITZ’s social media accounts

5. 4TH IMPACT

Photo courtesy of Twitter/4thImpactMusic

Perhaps the most mature act on the list, one should not brush off a group like 4th Impact. Being in the global music scene for six strong years, the all-female quartet deserves more appreciation from Gen-Z.

Although the group was formed at the suggestion of their aunt nearly two decades ago, it was only in 2015 when sisters Almira, Irene, Mylene, and Celina reached the spotlight after competing in X Factor UK where they finished fifth place. Currently, the most streamed video in the history of the British show, 4th Impact’s audition video covering Jessie J’s ‘Bang Bang’ has already over 180 million views.

Soon afterward, their performances were highly anticipated worldwide during the X Factor Live Tour. Over the next four years, the girls’ calendar was jam-packed with live tours and shows all over the world. And in 2020, 4th Impact released their first original song, ‘K(no)w More.’ Accompanied by their powerful vocals, their latest single screams attagirl—an encouragement to get out of that toxic relationship. 

Today, the four sisters focus more on their online engagement with their fans, particularly on TikTok and KUMU, where they won the Celebrity of the Year for the 2020 KUMU Special Awards. With that, I’m confident to say that their future will further slay, so get ready for it!

6. SB19

Photo courtesy of Twitter/SB19Official

Saving the best for the last, if you’re still reading this article and you haven’t listened yet to SB19, you’re missing out big time. A year before all of us were forced to stay home, SB19 got their deserving big break in 2019 after netizens crazed over the group’s synchronized dancing in their second single ‘Go Up.’

But before emerging in the scene, SB19 admitted that they almost decided to disband and give up their dreams. Sadly, this is the heartbreaking reality in the Philippine music industry, where musicians and artists alike have to cling to big names in order to survive the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment. 

Since then, members Josh, Pablo, Stell, Ken and Justin continuously spread their influence with titles that shows their versatility and multiple talents in songwriting, singing, and dancing. And these characteristics are still greatly displayed in their extended play, ‘Pagsibol.’ With tracks like ‘What?,’ ‘Bazinga,’ and ‘Mapa,’ we all know that they have yet to reach their peak.

Even though they’re last on this list, they’re certainly the first in many things. Just this May, the group was nominated for the Billboard Music Awards’ Top Social Artist along with huge international names like Ariana Grande and Seventeen. Fast forward to October, the group was also nominated for the Best Southeast Asia Act at the 2021 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Among all contemporary P-pop groups, SB19 is currently the most streamed artist on Spotify. Personally, I believe it’s destiny, not luck, that the boys landed on newspapers and on the minds of the Filipino youth. And it’s becoming a reality that they are now paving the way for future generations of P-pop groups.

Majority of these local acts debuted amid the pandemic. Albeit unfortunate, it’s in our hands, as listeners and patrons of good music, to introduce their songs beyond the local scene. 

Supporting our local music is the first step in appreciating our very own acts. P-pop groups, from BINI to ALAMAT to SB19, have so much to offer and all of them are just waiting for us to hear them. And it’s still a challenge that some people continue to call them baduy.

This isn’t trying to overshadow K-pop and show spite towards South Korean idols. Rather, this is #PpopRising, and quoting the wise words of SB19: “Yeah we gonna go up.”

Kurt Alec Mira
Blogs Writer | + posts
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