Music

Sony Music Philippines Just Signed 5 Local Artists: Here’s Why That’s a Big Deal

It’s a big move for a record label that shut down its local office just seven years ago.
IMAGE Sony Music Philippines
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There’s no denying the monumental shift in the music industry over the last 10 to 15 years. The advent of digital music and streaming services has upended how music is produced and consumed and the traditional model of artists signing to a major label has given way to newer, more creative ways for musicians to get their music out there. 

Over the last few years, many artists have gone the indie or DIY route, choosing to work with smaller, independent labels or even recording and publishing their music themselves. Still, there’s no denying the immense power and support a major label can provide, particularly for struggling artists.

Nathan & Mercury

Photo by Sony Music Philippines.
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Which is why it was a big deal when Sony Music Philippines (SMP), the local imprint of the global music and entertainment conglomerate, recently announced it had signed five local artists to exclusive recording contracts. The company itself shuttered its doors in 2012, although it continued to sell the music of its international artists through a distribution arrangement with Ivory Music.

SMP quietly reopened last year, but it’s finally ready to “make some noise,” so to speak. During a splashy press event at 12 Monkeys in El Pueblo, the label introduced its roster of new local talent, which includes current folk-pop darlings Ben&Ben, indie pop-rock five-piece the vowels they orbit, folk-pop singer-songwriter syd hartha, pop-rock band Nathan & Mercury and 12-year-old hip-hop sensation Alex Bruce.

syd hartha

Photo by Sony Music Philippines.
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SMP General Manager Roslyn Pineda said the decision to sign fresh talent was a no-brainer, given the sheer number of talented Filipino musicians and the vibrant local music industry, which is most keenly observed through data from streaming sites like Spotify.

“There’s not a more exciting industry to be in right now,” she said.

Ariel Fung, executive vice president for Sony Music Entertainment Asia, who was there at the launch, agreed.

“The Philippines is an up-and-coming market, especially with the growth of digital (music here),” he said. “We’re keen on signing up and growing local artists from every market and definitely the Philippines is one of them.”

Ben & Ben

Photo by Sony Music Philippines.
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The artists themselves seemed to be happy and proud to now call international artists like Beyoncé, John Mayer, Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers and many more their “labelmates.”

“Generally, I think everybody wants to think big,” said Nathan Huang of Nathan & Mercury. “Think global. This was one of the big avenues that we had to really think big, so when we found out about this, (we thought) it’s a good opportunity.”

Alex Bruce

Photo by Sony Music Philippines.
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“We talked about it, and we thought about it really hard,” agreed the other members Alex Samonte, Daniel Monong and Angelo Sison.

“Overall the atmosphere was really light, so we all just went for it,” Huang said.

“We all have goals, and with Sony around, they’re going to be a big help to us to achieve those goals,” he added.

the vowels they orbit

Photo by Sony Music Philippines.
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According to label execs, the plan now is to continue to promote the artists. Some, like Ben&Ben, already have a full-length album out, but for the others, the strategy is different. Putting out a single and/or an EP may be the way to go. In any case, seeing the support of a major record label for local talent is always heartening so here’s hoping we see other label-artist unions in the future.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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