music industry

DOST study finds majority in music industry have salaries below P20,000

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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DOST study finds majority in music industry have salaries below P20,000

BUSKING. A group of Filipino musicians busking in a park in Cagayan de Oro, southern Philippines.

Froilan Gallardo

Local artists practice 'sariling sikap' since they do not get government intervention and support in music training, marketing, and promotion, says the DOST-funded Musika Pilipinas project

MANLA, Philippines – Although celebrity Filipino musicians such as Lea Salonga, Gary V., Arnel Pineda, and Jose Mari Chan have attained fame and fortune, a majority of Filipinos in the music industry earn just a little over the P610 minimum wage in Metro Manila. 

According to a Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NCRP) national music stakeholders’ survey of 700 respondents, plus data gathered from focus group discussions (FGD), more than 50% of Filipinos employed in the music industry earn less than P20,000 a month. 

The P610 daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region is equal to P18,300 a month if working 30 days. 

Around 6 in 10 Filipinos involved in music creation, production, distribution, and consumption are college-degree holders, and most of them are freelance artists, the survey found. 

Due to the low income they earn, most Filipinos in the music industry have “non-music-industry-related income to support their living expenses,” the DOST-NCRP, an advisory body to the Philippine government, said. 

“Local artists would always have to go through what we normally identify as sariling sikap (self-reliance), that is, without any government intervention and support in its music training, marketing, and promotion,” said Maria Alexandra Chua, project leader of the DOST-NRCP-funded Musika Pilipinas Project. 

The project analyzed the country’s music industry, its vulnerabilities, and proposed key areas for improvement. 

The DOST-NCRP said Filipinos spend an average of two hours daily listening to music, reportedly among the longest in the world. “Music is more than a means of entertainment – it is the people’s way to communicate feelings, resonate their stories, and build on their emotions,” it said. 

One of the biggest problems of Filipino musicians is lack of intellectual property rights protection, and Chua recommended “urgent action” that would create a “centralized music coordinating council” that will address this and other problems of musicians and other music industry stakeholders. 

“The lack of effective protection of the intellectual property rights of local artists is another crucial issue in this sector that needs to be addressed,” she said. 

Intellectual property rights protection is one of the main reasons behind the success of South Korea’s Hallyu or Korean Wave, a recent report “K-Content goes global: How government support and copyright policy fuelled the Republic of Korea’s Creative Economy” by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said. 

Free expression, copyright protection cited as factors for success of Korean Wave

Free expression, copyright protection cited as factors for success of Korean Wave

“At its core, the Republic of Korea’s remarkable ascent in the content-based industry can be traced back to a comprehensive ecosystem, fostered by a coordinated nationwide policy approach, and reinforced by effective copyright enforcement,” the UNCTAD said. 

South Korea’s creative sectors employed over 600,000 people in 2021. Its creative economy generated $12.4 billion in export revenues the same year, growing at 4% to 5% annually, the UNCTAD said. Revenues from South Korea’s creative sectors were more than twice its consumer electronics exports (e.g. mobile phones, smart TVs) of $4.7 billion.

South Korea is now seen as a model on how to develop a country’s creative economy and make it a big contributor to economic growth.

Chua said the Philippine music industry should include “Filipino and non-Filipino individuals, groups, institutions, companies, and other stakeholders who engage in the entire process of the creation, production, distribution, and consumption of music within the Philippines.”

“To put it simply, if they are creating, producing, reproducing, distributing, or consuming music within the Philippines or producing music while representing the Philippines and from whose activities the Philippine economy benefits (e.g., overseas Filipino musicians who send remittances), they are part of the music industry of this country,” she said. 

Many Filipino musicians go abroad as entertainers in hotels, clubs, and other venues in the hospitality industry, mostly in Asia and the Middle East.

The study said that although there is already a new law, Republic Act No. 11904 or the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act, that supports the development of the country’s creative economy, “music is not a stand-alone sector in its Council.” 

“Music industry in the Philippines was subsumed under performing arts and audiovisuals. Thus, the research mentions that there are problems of representation for the music industry members in policy discussions, as well as in identifying the economic contribution of this important sector to the Philippine creative economy,” she said. 

The Philippine Creative Industries Development Act lapsed into law in July 2022. It mandates the State to “promote and support the development of Philippine creative industries by protecting and strengthening the rights and capacities of creative firms, artists, artisans, creators, workers, indigenous cultural communities, content providers, and stakeholders in the creative industries….” 

In March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released its first compilation of Philippine Creative Economy Satellite Accounts (PCESA) which said the Philippines’ creative economy amounted to P1.72 trillion in 2023, contributing 7.1% to the gross domestic product (GDP). 

The DOST-NCRPA said the Philippine music sector’s contribution to the creative industry is only 8.8% which amounts to P18.1 billion. 

How big is the Philippines’ creative economy – and are you part of it?

How big is the Philippines’ creative economy – and are you part of it?

The Philippines’ creative economy was valued at P1.3 trillion in 2018, which went up to P1.47 trillion in 2019. Due to the pandemic, it declined to P1.34 trillion in 2019, but recovered from 2021 to 2023.

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.