Curiosity and Songwriting Competitions

Musical contests and competitions, especially ones that thrive on popularity and poorly judged, are never my cup of tea. And for a time being I also lost faith in any local award giving body greatly attributed to the politics and popularity involved.

Gone are the days when local radio and record label A&Rs are kings and arbiters of taste, playing and recommending only the good stuff. I also notice the lack of hard knock, reliable music critics in the industry. A lot of writers fall into the danger of making subjective reviews. And nobody cares to write any disparaging remarks to those who deserve it, hence giving amateur and sloppy releases a time to shine and feeding the public with as much garbage as possible. (As the old Pinoy adage goes “May pera sa basura”). The music scene is very small to gain enemies especially when everyone knows and tolerates each other. Commercial music is by far the worst in the past few years.

While observing the decline of traditional music industry and evaluating opportunities thoroughly, I found the Internet as my refuge. New artists that crop up nowadays should be smart, think like a businessman and be objective. There are a number of honest and legitimate music services online to help an artist advance his career or even kick-start a project. A lot of them I have tried except for one area – contests and competition.

Last December, out of curiosity, I submitted an entry for  the 2010 International Songwriting Competition. ISC has been around for 10 years, backed by prominent music related organizations, and make use of established artists and industry professionals as judges. Just imagining the prospect of my song having this chance (however slim) to be heard by Robert Smith (The Cure), Jeff Beck, Regina Spektor, Ben Folds, Black Francis (The Pixies), and other great artists plus presidents and founders of international music labels and organizations is enough to pique my interest.

Though I didn’t make it to the finals, I’m still happy to be selected as a semi-finalist in the “Folk/Singer-Songwriter Category” for my entry “Bread And Circuses“. For a low fee and an underdog like myself, being included in a list like that is something of value.

Although the song was not selected as a finalist, because of the increased competitiveness this year, the status of semi-finalist is an exceptionally noteworthy achievement.” – mentioned Candace Avery (founder of ISC) in her e-mail to me.

You can check out the list of semi-finalists at and the song I entered below:

Bread and Circuses – The Camerawalls

My curiosity killed some remaining doubts for the direction I’m taking for Lilystars Records and The Camerawalls and how musicians in the Philippines can globally excel if they will choose not to succumb to the current commercial trends.

Related News: ISC Names Clementine As A Semi-Finalist

3 Responses to “Curiosity and Songwriting Competitions”

  1. Dito Lumalabo

    I believe music should also touch the lives of Filipino people. How come you call it “commercial trends”? Music is Art. Does art mean you have to be globally recognized? Other bands write songs because they are happy with what they’re doing. They touch the hearts of Filipino people, whether their songs are “baduy” to others. I believe music should touch every aspect of the society. From the social-class urban to the unlucky and uneducated pedestrian.

    And how could you say that what they’re doing is applicable to the term “may pera sa basura?” they’re not creating trash. You know what trash is? It’s when you imitate somebody else to create your own profile. You just lived on to the shadows of another “somebody”.

    • Clementine

      Henri Ribaud once said, “Musical compositions, it should be remembered, do not inhabit certain countries, certain museums, like paintings and statues.” Music that touches the lives of Filipinos does not necessarily mean it can’t touch the lives of others irregardless of race and color. Take for example Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak”, a beautiful piece translated and sung into many languages.

      You have to accept the fact that anywhere you go, excellence and mediocrity have their share of market in the music industry, not only in the Philippines. And I was just pointing out that fact, far from dissing any band or artist you have in mind that you think is “baduy” or commercial but is embraced by the masses. You also cannot ignore the fact that some of them are designed that way – to touch the lives of the Filipino masses, and earn profit from it. There are musicians and songwriters who write songs to please others, especially those fueled by corporate labels. It’s nothing personal, it’s business. Believe me I know the formula, since I’ve been in the industry for a decade. Whatever pleases the musician (money, fame, opportunity) and the listener is not a basis for excellent, classless songwriting. I am also not saying my music is, cause it is not for me to say that. All I know is, I write music not to please anyone. Not you, not the Filipino people, nor anyone in this world. I write music to please and challenge myself in this wonderful and universal form of Art. And if any soul can connect with what I do and the music that I put out, I am thankful and privileged.

      It’s Rizal’s birthday tomorrow. He borrowed his education from the West, and wrote all of his important works in Spanish… and was revered all over the world touching the lives of millions of fellow Filipinos. The shadow of his education and those that influenced him has transformed him into who he was now.

  2. fredjordan

    Great job, Clem. Finalist or not, there’s no denying your music remains beautiful to many ears, especially mine. Keep the notes floating in the air!


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