Telum Talks To: Jason Caballa, Music Editor at Billboard Philippines

Telum Talks To: Jason Caballa, Music Editor at Billboard Philippines

Telum Media caught up with Jason Caballa, a musician and journalist for over 10 years working with various music publications, such as PULP Magazine and His experience led to his appointment as Music Editor at Billboard Philippines. Aside from juggling daily editorial tasks, Jason also writes and interviews artists for the magazine. He also shares some tips on engaging better with the publication as well as topics they are looking out for in 2024.

How does it feel to have finally launched Billboard Philippines?
Although I wasn’t part of the team yet when they worked on the maiden issue, it still feels fulfilling to be a part of a globally respected and widely read music media brand, and something that could significantly push Filipino music worldwide. Of course, there’s still a lot of work that lies ahead for us, and that is exciting.

For those who are curious, how did you get your start in journalism? How does being a Musician and Guitarist contribute to your role as Music Editor?
I’ve been writing about music for as long as I can remember, starting with our high school to college publications. I also contributed music reviews to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s 2BU section while in college. And then I worked at PULP Magazine from 2005 to 2011, first as a Staff Writer and then as Music Editor.

Being a musician has helped in my role as a music journalist in a variety of ways. I’ve noticed that many of my interview subjects are more comfortable talking to a peer so I can get more interesting stories out of them. At the same time, I can help my fellow writers get in touch with certain local musicians with my personal connections. My knowledge in music also helps with fact-checking, verifying the accuracy of certain musical terms, quality control, and the like when editing our writers’ work.

Can you walk us through a day in your life working at Billboard Philippines?
There’s a lot of communication involved within the team, whether we’re face-to-face in the office or working remotely. The writers submit their proposals for articles to be written during the day, and then submit them for our edits. We also update each other on the latest music-related developments we see online, and determine whether they’re worth featuring. At the same time, our writers (myself included) can be busy writing, interviewing our subjects, or brainstorming feature ideas.

Have you observed any trends or changes in the Original Pilipino Music (OPM) industry over recent years?
The most obvious would be that songs become hits due to online virality instead of radio airplay. Also, artists tend to release singles online in quick succession over full albums to sustain listeners’ interest in them. More listeners also curate the music they consume instead of waiting to hear what’s on the radio. These are all the result of having everything available online, just a click away.

What qualities do you believe are essential for a music journalist to possess in order to be successful?
Research is always important, because artists are more engaging when they’re asked smarter, well-researched questions. Also, write with readers in mind. Make sure your articles are comprehensible to the average person — avoid big words and long, run-on sentences. There are ways to make articles interesting without having to resort to these. There’s nothing wrong with injecting your work with your own personality, voice, or style, but readability should be the top priority.

Any top tips for PRs if they want to strengthen collaboration with Billboard Philippines in the future?
Just send us the best possible materials to work with, as well as means to get in touch or coordinate with the artist easily for an interview if needed. Passes to shows, too, if applicable, haha.

What are the top three topics you will be watching out for in 2024?
One - regional music events like concerts and festivals, now that the world has opened up and artists are touring the world again after the pandemic.

Two -  the rise of physical media, as vinyl made a comeback many years ago and K-pop fans have always collected the lavishly-packaged CDs of their idols. As a collector myself, it makes me wonder if there is enough demand for record labels to print and distribute their artists’ music on physical media on a mass scale like in the '90s or '00s.

Three - there’s almost always at least one important band that reunites every year, and I wonder who it will be next year, whether local or international.

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Jason Caballa

Music Editor

Billboard Philippines

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