Let's face it. The music scene of today is hardly the way it was.
There was a time not so long ago, record companies were signing bands left and right, eager to provide breakouts for the latest sound, the latest movement. Now, it's as if the Eraserheads didn't even happen.
It's sad, considering there are a lot more diverse acts doing the rounds today.
Ah, but all is not lost.
Thankfully, there are still a handful of people not willing to give up so easily on the seemingly moribund scene, among them Jose Delos Reyes, founder of Red Button Productions, which, simply put, helps bands get gigs.
It's no surprise that Jose is a musician himself. He established Red Button Productions in 2013 because he also enjoys playing live shows.
"It all started way back in 2013," he shares. "I've always loved music, having played in a band back in high school. I got the idea while doing productions for Paloy of Happyhouse Entertainment and Jurassic Pards. When I went back to Makati, I spearheaded Red Button Productions—aside from letting newbies play, I also perform in my events."
The name is symbolic of the red record button, which, for Jose, roughly means "capturing live performances."
Just like most musicians, Jose has a day job as a graphic designer. It was his earnings from his job that funded Red Button Productions in the early days.
"It was kind of hard at the start," he recalls. "I was the MC, photographer, performer, and gate keeper. It even came to a point I got so stressed so I had spells of hypertension."
Aside from spreading himself thin and his waning health, what's worse was back then, he was hardly earning anything.
"I really needed to invest. There was a time I was using my personal savings to run the production, including paying the bands and paying the venue. It was only after a couple of years of doing it that I was able to recoup my investments."
Don't get the wrong idea. The man isn't rolling in heaps of cold hard cash.
"The earnings I get from the events are used mainly to fund the next event and our growing staff. I also use some of it to maintain our website," Jose explains.
Given the meager profit, one would think Jose would be wary of others copying his blueprint, but this isn't the case. He actually encourages more people to follow his lead. "The more people involved, the more we enliven the music scene. The independent music community is an ecosystem, and we must all help each other to survive."
Now, Red Button Productions has earned the respect of many musicians who have come to recognize their efforts. Fact is, they now attract more established acts like Perf De Castro, Farewell Fair Weather, December Avenue, Join The Club, Dhruva Tara, Talata, Maryzark, Mayonnaise, Peso Movement, Sud, Johnoy Danao, Jeepney Joy Ride, and Clubhouse, among many others.
"We actually get around 40 to 45 performers and bands for our weekly events. And yes, there are even some clubs and bars who now ask us to do an event at their places."
At the moment, Red Button Productions usually holds gigs at venues like 1018 Bar and Mang Rudy’s in Makati, and Cow & Chicken in Kapitolyo, Pasig, expanding their repertoire as they do so.
For those who think there is a catch somewhere (particularly those who still remember the '90s, when bands usually paid a production a specific sum to get to play in their event), Jose shares: "Pay-to-play is a route we never took. We never charge our performers. In fact, at the end of the night, we even share part of our earnings with them."
They don't discriminate, too.
Jose notes: "We are open to all types of performers, no matter what genre. We only have one rule: if you sign up, don't back out. I have a list of bands who frequently back out from gigs and I'm telling you, it's not a good list to be in."
"Live performances are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities," says Jose. "You get better playing in front of people because you can't edit your performances. You can also interact with the crowd and get an instant response to your music. Best of all, just by being there, playing or watching, you are helping the music scene. You help the bars continue their operations and you help other artists hone their craft, too."
Currently, Jose sees no end to his pursuit.
"This is my passion," he explains. "The way I see it, I'll keep doing this as long as I live, and even if I die, I just know someone, somewhere out there will continue what I've started."
Visit redbuttonprod.com for more updates on gigs, the music scene, and everything in between