Sep 23
DANCE TO THE MUSIC by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Sep 23, 2011

The local music industry was the first victim of digital piracy. It can be recalled that in 1998, Danny Olivarez of PARI (Philippine Association of the Record Industry) issued a statement against pirated CD.

That a pirated CD can destroy your CD player. Although not true, perhaps Mr. Olivarez said that out of desperation. As Ernie Dela Cruz said, “Matindi kasi ang tama ng piracy sa mga recording studio at record producers.”

Ernie Dela Cruz, more popularly known as Ka Ernie in the music circles, is a long time album producer. He is also a broadcaster with a radio program in Radio Veritas every 2 am in the morning.

Ka Ernie started with Vicor Records in their original office in Raon Street near other recording companies. There was Jonal Records which featured Pilita, ANS recording which has Helen Gamboa and the famous Alpha Records of Buddy De Vera.

“Nag-umpisa ang Vicor sa tatlong mesa lang.” Top Prime was the original business name of Vicor, handled by cousins Vic Del Rosario how now heads Viva Entertainment and Orly Ilacad who owns Octo Arts.

Ilacad was the specialist when it comes to production while Del Rosario ably handled the marketing. “Mahusay sa PR si Boss Vic,” claims Ka Ernie, “kaya mabilis umasenso ang Vicor dahil magaling siyang mag-establish ng connections.”

Orly Ilacad at left with Dominic Du of the Anti-Piracy group

“Si Boss Orly naman ang namimili ng kanta for recording,” Ka Ernie continues, “at sa siya pa rin ang nag-aayos ng casting.” That means Ilacad makes the choice of the singer, the material and the musicians, including the musical director.

Another pillar of Vicor was Tony Ocampo, who was the Marketing Manager. Ka Ernie was under the tutelage of Ocampo in learning the ins and outs of the music industry. Later on, Ka Ernie was promoted to head the Advertising Promotions department.

Ka Ernie roamed the provinces in promoting Vicor music. The top stations that time were DZBM and DWIZ, the latter is now a non-music station. He met Mike Enriquez, who was the station manager of DWBL and RJ Jacinto of DZRJ Manila.

Aside from promoting, Ka Ernie also learned how to use his gut feel. As a promotions man, he should be talented enough to know if a song would be a hit or a flop. “Tsambahan rin lang, syempre hindi mo naman malalaman talaga yun.”

His most memorable project was in promoting the “Anak” album of Freddie Aguilar. “Nakapag-guest kami sa Superstar ni Nora Aunor, sa Spin-A-Win ni Jeanne Young at sa Eat Bulaga,” all RPN-9 programs.

Ka Ernie remembers the time when Freddie Aguilar was to buy a new car. “Gusto ni Ka Freddie ako ang bumili ng luma niyang kotse,” says Ka Ernie in trying to show the singer’s untold generosity.

Ka Ernie Dela Cruz at left with veteran cinematographer Oscar Querejero

Humility aside, Ka Ernie was instrumental in Lea Salonga’s rise in the music industry. “Pa-guesting, guesting lang si Lea,” recalls Ka Ernie. Lea was noticed in her rendition of Tomorrow, the signature song of the stage play Annie.

FGS Records was born as a vehicle for the musical career of the young singer. “Initials ng father ni Lea ang FGS,” explains Ka Ernie. The company was put up by Feliciano G. Salonga with the help of 4 colleagues, who are all metallurgical engineers.

Tasked to launch the new talent, Ka Ernie got the services of Rene Ongpauco to be the musical director of Lea’s first recording. The 45 (rpm) version of Someone’s Waiting For You was a big hit in the market.

When Ka Ernie left FGS Records, he ventured into album producing. With his contacts in the radio stations, marketing was not too difficult. “Pero dapat maganda rin ang produkto,” explains Ka Ernie.

Most of the hits in his produced album were Ilocano songs. Some are folk songs but the most saleable was the novelty album of Buchikik. “Kung si Yoyoy ang Bisaya, si Buchikik ang sa Ilocano novelty.”

Producing an album means investing in it. “Noong araw mga one hundred thousand lang, kaya nang maka-produce. Pero ngayon abot na siguro ng three hundred.” To lessen the production cost, Ka Ernie always tries to get sponsors for his album.

But producing an album now is a different story because of the digital convenience. “Madaling kopyahin lalo na sa internet,” Ka Ernie reiterates that the music industry was the first victim of the digital piracy.

A lesson that Ka Ernie imparts to potential album producers, “Dapat bilhin mo ang rights sa composer at sa singer.” That was the standard arrangement in all his produced albums. But in case of re-recording, he never forgets to acknowledge the composer.

Early this year, Ka Ernie was approached by Magic Sing, a karaoke company which wants to include some of Ka Ernie’s produced album in their repertoire. The draft of the contract says Magic Sing would pay Ka Ernie 750,000 pesos for 10 albums.

“Yun ang fringe benefit ko,” beams Ka Ernie in emphasizing the unexpected bounty. “Ang gusto ko lang talaga sa rights ay yung preservation ng mga kanta saka yung masabi kong akin.”

In closing, Ka Ernie shared some trivia. The song In-a-gadda-da-vida of the Doors is the longest recorded song with a running time of 17 minutes that occupied the entire side A of a long playing album. Elton John’s very popular Skyline Pigeon was the side B of Daniel (which was not considered a hit).

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