Meet the Filipino music-tech entrepreneurs shaking things up.
Alibatta Records formed in 2021, and are a music label and entertainment technology company that focuses on “revolutionising how music is created, marketed, and distributed,” utilising blockchain technology and immersive experiences to aid their artists.
The label first signed with Filipino singer Ali Young earlier this year, bringing her onboard as their first artist. Thereafter, Alibatta and Young etched themselves in history books with the first-ever Southeast Asian and Filipino NFT (non-fungible token) single release in the form of ‘craving’ – hallmarking both the label’s and Young’s first official debut in June.
As musicians and tech executives themselves, Alibatta Records is led by entrepreneur Geoff Mabasa alongside co-founders Adrienne Cajayon and Charles Gener, who cumulatively have experience in the music scene as well as in tech giants Grab, TikTok, and cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance.
On top of their tech experience, the three co-founders all bear academic backgrounds in Music Production at De La Salle – College of St. Benilde.
Alibatta is a wordplay on Alibata, a traditional alphabet system in the Philippines. “We hope through Alibatta, we are able to ‘re-spell’ traditional concepts, that our introduction of fresh ideas, talents, and innovation in the scene allows us to bring local Filipino talent to a global audience,” the label announced in a statement.
Co-founder Cajayon also chimes in on their mission: “As musicians ourselves, we know how cutthroat the industry is, so we need to be utilising new forms of tech to somehow level the playing field.”
‘Craving’ was first released on the Binance NFT Marketplace on 24 June. Since its listing, Alibatta has auctioned all of its Record Store Day edition tokens for the single. Its Standard, Diamond, and Succubi editions of the NFT will subsequently be released on the platform exclusively.
Ahead of the NFT launch and debut release, we spoke to Mabasa on Alibatta’s foray into the industry, the leveraging of music tech as a label, as well as ushering in a new era for artists in the Philippines altogether.
Hey Geoff, launch day is here and we’re excited to witness history in the making for Ali as well as Alibatta Records. How has the build-up towards this one-of-a-kind release been so far, and what do you hope the reception will be like after – both within the tech space and the music industry?
The build-up is intense. The past few days we’ve been sprinting to get things done, I honestly didn’t expect it to be this tedious, but I knew for a fact that it would be hard. My foundations in music production and tech definitely helped speed things up, there was less running around, and more execution. We feel like we have eyes watching considering that this would be some sort of a pilot for labels releasing unconventional modes of releases for their artists.
We hope that the ecosystem for both music and tech learns from the experience and jumps in soon! ‘craving’ has been a really fun exercise for both us as tech entrepreneurs and artists.
The essence of NFTs and operating on the blockchain, to many artists, serves as a direct way to engage with their fans and its market, thereby cutting out the middlemen. How do you see Alibatta factoring into this relationship and industry?
NFT and crypto is still in their infancy. In Alibatta we want to be able to bring value to the artists by educating them, representing, and at all the same, being able to help them monetize through models that they’ve never considered and tried before. It’s true that middlemen will be cut off by technologies like NFT, however, we’d like to look at our service as something that augments the overall experience of utilising these innovations, so you can focus on what you do best as a creator.
With every new and emerging tech comes its critics and naysayers, along with those who champion it aggressively. What are some of the biggest drivers for pioneering NFTs in the Philippines, as well as considerations you’ve had to account for?
Pioneering NFT music is actually our goal. No one’s been able to do it, nor has done it in the region, but we did see a lot of interest especially when this group called ‘cryptomusicians’ suddenly came out of the blue. This is a group of musicians who trade crypto that my co-founder, Charles, had organized on Facebook.
A consideration that we have – and probably all starting labels have when they want to initiate the first project – is looking at how far the major and the bigger ones have come, how much listenership and market share they own. It really feels like you’re going to be an underdog forever! Interestingly, pioneering NFT would come to be one of our core drivers in continuing, as this is a space left unexplored by even the major players.
One major talking point that’s been taking front seat both within and outside the confines of the NFT community is its impact on the environment. How are Alibatta Records mindful of these impacts, and has there been any mobilisation or offsetting done for said impact?
NFTs have been around since 2009, and it’s only until now that the issue with the environment has been brought up. Believe us when we say we are as conscious as you, which is why we’re only minting NFTs using the Binance Smart Chain. The Binance ecosystem is eco-friendly when it comes to minting NFTs and tokens.
‘craving’ is available to stream on all major streaming platforms. For its NFTs, visit the Binance Marketplace for more details.