The current scenario of Pakistani music industry

Let’s go a few years back and think of the music and entertainment channels that were used to be commonly aired on Pakistani cable TV. Indus music (IM), MTV Pakistan, ARY musik, Aag TV, Play TV, in fact, there are so many others that, even if come of them are still active, are not aired like they used to be. Those were the days when new songs came every other day and actually reached the audience. Of course, not everything about the music of that era was perfect, but at least it was mostly about exploring and featuring newer artists, original music, new talent and different genres.

Now, people are all about making covers. I know it’s nothing new, it’s been happening for a very long time. There came a time when old songs were remixed and released. Not just once but each song was given so many remixed versions; and people listened, not because they really wanted to, but because they were made of.

This is exactly what’s happening again, nowadays. It’s not like we don’t have artists anymore, I mean, of course, there’s still original music in the making, but is it really given the limelight it should be given?

Anyway, let’s jump to Pepsi Battle of the Bands. No, I’m not talking about PBOTB’s early (EARLY) days. It’s all about season 2 and 3. It’s good to see that the show revived in 2017, after 15 years of its original release. But how has it helped the Pakistani music industry as a whole?

As far as Coke Studio is concerned, people have been making use of it, honestly. However, the strategy is worth appreciating. Coke Studio is generously financed, this is why they have one of the best setups and the arrangements and artist can dream of. But what are they doing with it? Remaking older songs? I still believe that earlier seasons were a lot better when Rohail Hyatt was production in-charge, rather than what is happening in Coke Studio now. Besides a couple few, we keep seeing older artists’ names being the part of every season of Coke Studio. Nothing significant has changed as far as the production and the cast of the show is concerned. Same Strings, same Noori, same house musicians (well, most of them) and same artists.

Things are always open for celebrity children. No?
New artists? They come, they play, they vanish; unless they have a source or finances to release music on their own on an actively running channel.
Social media is a great option for start ups and the artists who really want to make a name in music….is it actually a good option?
Well, unless an artist can financially invest in their work and boost the posts, then it is. Otherwise, there is no reliable way to reach the audience via social media. But how many artists can afford that? If explored, one can find hundreds and thousands of talent-rich people who might never be able to come into the spotlight otherwise.

What Pakistani music actually needs

People are looking for ‘branded music‘. Yes, nobody cares about a song unless it is featured in Coke Studio or adapted in a Bollywood movie. Remember how ‘to phir aao’ and ‘tera mera rishta purana’ were so much hyped? Everyone listened to them 24/7 when the movie ‘Awarapani’ was released. These songs were originally released in 2006 by ‘Roxen’, the band even played the songs on Pakistani music channels. But how did they come into limelight? Through a Bollywood movie.

Long story short, there’s a tremendous lack of record labels in Pakistan. It is true that music has been totally commercialized now. It always was, but now, things have stopped to change. Is it because people don’t want change? Or because people are forced to not anticipate the change by doing the same thing over and over again?
Every single show that is aired is meant for commercial purpose. Why? Because there’s no such thing as exploration. This is the reason why underground artists remain underground. This is the reason why a musician who’s been making music on a smaller scale for underground artists never gets under the spotlight. This is the reason why an artist that has no resources can’t make a name in the music industry. Underground music is definitely growing, but does it really matter if it can’t get enough public eye and media attention?

There was a time when different trends came and were adapted, but a few years ago, a trend came and everything stopped. Now, we are still living in the same musical era. And that changed have limited the musical taste of the nation. It may offend some people, but even if Coke Studio makes a mess, there are still hundreds of thousands of people admiring the same mess. And this needs to change.

I’m no musical expert, but these are general things which every sane person can think about. There’s a lot left to talk about on the same aspect, but would it make any difference?

Hafi Yousuf

View Comments

  • I think they should adopt the korean system of recruiting artists. They should make agencies to recruit trainees and train their vocals and other skills. It's really a good idea because it creates a platform for the new artists to show their talent and skills. The industry have to create new music, exploring new genres and have to get rid of these old bands and artists

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