A recent survey conducted within the Filipino music industry has shed light on the financial challenges faced by its workforce, with more than half of respondents earning below the Php 20,000 mark monthly — which just hovers above the National Capital Region’s minimum wage.

Drawing from insights gathered from 700 participants and focus group discussions, the findings highlight a sobering reality for many involved in music creation, production, distribution, and consumption across various regions of the Philippines. According to the survey, 61.1% of those engaged in music-related endeavors hold college degrees, with a significant portion operating as freelance artists. Despite their dedication, a majority of respondents admitted to relying on non-music-related income streams to meet their living expenses.

Maria Alexandra Chua, spearheading the Musika Pilipinas Project under the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP), underscores the industry’s inherent challenges, citing a lack of governmental support in training, marketing, and promotion. “Local artists would always have to go through what we normally identify as sariling sikap,” Chua emphasizes, pointing to the need for intervention and advocacy.

The survey also unveils the staggering amount of time Filipinos devote to music, averaging 126 minutes daily, the longest globally. It underscores music’s profound role beyond mere entertainment, serving as a conduit for emotions, narratives, and communal bonds.

Despite legislative efforts such as the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act, which aims to bolster creative sectors, the music industry finds itself marginalized within policy discourse. Subsumed under performing arts and audiovisuals, it lacks adequate representation and struggles to quantify its economic impact.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicate a growth in the gross value added (GVA) of creative industry activities from P1.61 trillion in 2022 to P1.72 trillion in 2023. However, the music sector’s contribution remains modest at 8.8%, amounting to P18.1 billion.

Chua advocates for urgent action, proposing the establishment of a centralized music coordinating council to address industry dynamics, strategic planning, and emerging challenges. Moreover, she highlights the pressing need for enhanced intellectual property rights protection, a critical issue affecting local artists.

In delineating the scope of the Philippine music industry, Chua emphasizes its inclusivity, encompassing Filipino and non-Filipino individuals, institutions, and entities contributing to music’s creation, production, distribution, and consumption within the nation’s borders. As calls for reform resonate, organizations like the DOST-NRCP stand poised to guide governmental efforts toward fostering a more equitable and sustainable music ecosystem in the Philippines.