Audio Junkie: Sony Music opens shop anew in PH

Published September 15, 2018, 4:56 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

When the local recording industry shifted from physical (CDs) to digital some years ago,it wasn’t an entirely pretty transition.

Calvin Harris and Sam Smith (
Calvin Harris and Sam Smith

Dwindling CD sales meant that record companies found themselves in the red. This included major and independent labels operating in Manila. Suddenly these companies were downsizing or laying off entire departments in order to stave off closing entirely.

Even the big wigs Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music had extreme difficulty in finding ways and reasons to keep their operations in the Philippines.

Warner went back to basics and focused on music distribution, but had to give up producing local artists (in the meantime) to keep their local operation viable. Their steady imports of hit Top 40 hits is a given, of course.

Universal Music/MCA likewise was fortunate to have a steady stream of foreign hits, had too a relevant roster of local artists, and added artist management to cover for what it lost from physical album sales.

Sony Music took a different route.

Of the three majors, Sony Music closed its offices in Manila. They did maintain a presence via distribution through local label Ivory Music, who carried their bestsellers One Direction, Beyoncé, John Mayer, Adele, and Meghan Trainor to name a few of the many popular acts in its roster.

But alas, despite the hits and the stars, and the push from Ivory, Sony Music was only ever about selling CD albums locally. Which, around five or six years ago, was already a disappearing format at the onset of digital music streaming. So it was a sobering day indeed when we learned that Sony Music had to pack up its local operations.

Dave Grohl (
Dave Grohl

But now that the local music industry is again robust, and has completed its shift into streaming as platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and, yes, YouTube get popular every year. This intrepid music label has once again set up shop in Manila.

Yes, Sony Music is back! Not much fanfare there but alongside its return is a local servicing of its amazing roster. And over the past few months, there’s been a steady stream of worthy singles we’ve been sinking our teeth into. Beginning with the Calvin Harris and Sam Smith collab entitled “Promises.” Sam Smith may be popular in these shores as a soulful balladeer, but he’s also lent that voice to club music before. Remember his team up with Disclosure? And this one’s almost similar, but with EDM giant Calvin Harris.

Up next is the Diplo and Mark Ronson project called Silk City with the single “Electricity” featuring Dua Lipa. It’s a pop song disguised as a club track or is it the other way around? Anyway, it’s got this great go-get-up-and-dance feel and it’s got Ronson, Diplo and that sexy Dua Lipa voice. What more can you ask?

Our favorite quirky singer-songwriter Sia is back. This time as a featured artist alongside Diplo and Labrinth on the LSD track “Thunderclouds.” Sia’s distinct vocals rubbing against singer-producer Labrinth’s raspy, almost rock and roll voice makes for a unique combo.

Diplo Sia Labrinth LSD Thunderclouds (
Diplo Sia Labrinth LSD Thunderclouds

There’s also a new banging Chainsmokers track featuring NGHTMRE titled “Save Yourself.” And the latest Zayn Malik (“Sour Diesel”), Meghan Trainor (“All The Ways”), and Justin Timberlake (“Soulmate”). Saving the best for last is a Dave Grohl solo track entitled “Play” wherein he’s on every instrument. To say that it rocks hard is obvious as in ‘duh.’ But do check out the music video to see ye olde Foo Fighters leader in the studio, in his element, having fun.

It’s good to have a reliable label like Sony Music back and operating in Manila again. They never really left (technically) but, yeah, it’s good to know a team is operating here and making sure that we are getting the latest pop music from some of the world’s best.