On tap with Renen de Guia


THIS past Sunday morning, I was glued not only to UFC Fight Night 194 but also WTA 1000 at Indian Wells. The afternoon, it was the B.League for Kiefer Ravena’s Shiga Lakestars going up against the Javi Gomez de Liaño-less Ibaraki Robots. And in the evening, it was the Turkish Grand Prix. If the English Premier League weren’t on an international break, I would have been watching until the wee hours of Monday morning.

All these I was watching on the TapGo app.

TapGo is that newest digital media streaming service where the top international sports events and leagues are shown not just on gadgets but cable television.

The man behind this is Renen de Guia, Chief Executive Officer of Tap Digital Media Ventures. If his name sounds familiar that is because he is the same man behind Ovation Productions that brings top foreign recordings artists to perform in the Philippines.

Does sports and music mix?

Most definitely.

When I applied for the marketing manager position of Solar Sports, I was asked if I love music and to anyone who knows me, they will say I was weaned on music.

Sports action, in-arena entertainment and highlights are always set to pulsating music.

So we talked to Mr. de Guia about this venture and what is in store for the Filipino sports and music fan.

RO: What can you share about putting up TapGo? Were you always a huge sports fan? If so, what are your favorite sports? Favorite sports teams and personalities? Best sports event you attended live?

RDG: We initially envisioned TapGO as a purely ad supported sports-only streaming platform through server side ad insertions with pre-roll ads and automatic ad replacement of our cable television commercials on the streaming platform as we also stream our cable television channels as live linear channels on TapGO. However, in the early stages of the pandemic there were no live sports for months so our ad supported platform did not take off. We had to close down our version 1 and planned version 2 which is subscription video on demand (SVOD) and has a content mix of 65 percent sports and 35 percent general entertainment.

RO: Where do you see TapGo heading in the next couple of years?

RDG: TapGO is the home of premium sports and entertainment content. We see TapGO acquiring more premium content and possibly expanding into other markets.

RO: What can you share about your love for music? Was it your parents’ influence? Are you still a record collector? What are your most prized records if you can be specific and why?

RDG: Having seen photos of your extensive collection of CDs and LPs and the music trivia you post in social media, my answers might surprise, even shock you. I love music but I am not a die-hard music devotee.

My music library was made up of select copies of releases given by record companies in the 1970s when I was with radio. Then there was a mountain of leftovers from the closing down of my 20-branch record store Pop Station Records in the late 1990s. We also purchased quite a bit of LPs during our travels abroad mainly for their nice album covers for the reason I will tell you later. I still have some LPs. As for CDs, I have since given or thrown them away. Technology has rendered them impractical and with the sheer quantity of CDs I had, it required sizeable wall spaces for proper display which I would rather allocate for artworks.

I have my favorite songs and artists but I learned not to over-attach myself emotionally to any of them. Strangely, once I am able to get hold of the records I liked, my interest waned knowing that I can conveniently listen to them anytime. This could have been the result of years of treating music not as a hobby but as a form of work or business activity having been a radio DJ, disco Dj, A&R at a record company, record store owner, and concert promoter. Immersing myself in records led to my developing music fatigue and preferring complete silence for relaxation.

Come to think of it, even my garments business, 1980s hugely successful TOP40 T-shirts, shrink-packaged to appear like LPs, was also music related. TOP40 was the reason I bought LPs abroad with nice album covers as mentioned earlier—for the purpose of making them into t-shirt designs.

RO: How and why did you seize upon the chance to bring foreign artists to the Philippines?

RDG: The situation presented itself when I was involved in the promotional tour of WEA artist Leif Garrett, the 1970s teenage pop superstar. I seemed to have made quite an impression with Leif’s manager because he was the one who offered me the coveted opportunity to handle Leif’s Philippine tour in 1979. He received many offers from the more established promoters of that time but he stuck with me, a person unproven in the business of concert promotions. I had no idea of the enormous challenges that awaited me but I was young, hungry, and driven. That started my career in the concerts business. After 42 years, Ovation Productions is a well-oiled machine staffed by the best in the business with a nationwide network of production and marketing managers.

RO: Can you share three cool anecdotes with any of these artists you have brought over?

RDG: The time when Tears For Fears declared at Smart Araneta Coliseum that they “have officially peaked” after experiencing the massive crowds singing their songs word for word at the top of their voices. This was in 2010 long after their heyday in the 1980s. Whenever people came up to ask what the band were up to these days they’d simply say “just go to You Tube and search for Tears For Fears Manila concert.” It was their way of saying that they were very much around and they were still hot!

That moment in 2008 when singer songwriter producer Dennis Lambert finally said yes to my offer after my having chased him for over three decades! We then went on a multi-city Philippine tour back-to-back with another noted singer songwriter Paul Williams. Both artists brought with them their respective teams to film their experiences but it was Dennis’s movie that really got much attention and won many awards in various film festivals. Talks are ongoing for it to be made into a movie by a major Hollywood studio.

The utter amusement of Celine Dion upon knowing that her promoters in Manila have the same names as she and her late manager husband whom she dearly loved. They were Celine and Rene and we were Renen and Cel. What were the chances right? She mentioned this in her press conference held in Las Vegas.

RO: Who is on your Bucket List to bring to the Philippines to perform?

RDG: No promoter will divulge the artist he is working on or planning to bring in. What I can say though is that, had it not been for the pandemic, Ovation Productions was scheduled to do names long talked about in the concert and music industry circles. Years 2020 and 2021 would have been really banner years for us.

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