The bright side of music

While Indo-Pak tension continues to make headlines, there are plenty of initiatives in music that merit some celebration.


It’s been another big, mostly positive week for music. While the impact of Indo-Pak’s rising tension will surely reflect on the music scene and remains a dominating factor in cultural conversations but for now, we’re shifting focus away from this issue to the many positives that have emerged recently.

Our story begins with Patari, Pakistan’s numero uno music streaming site that recently celebrated its first-year anniversary. Scaling new heights all the time, their latest is a partnership with social media giant Facebook. Announced just last week, it means that Patari is participating in Facebook’s Music Stories. According to a PR statement, on the Facebook app, “songs and albums shared from Patari will become ‘Music Stories’, a new post format which allows people to listen to a 30-second preview of the shared song (or album) while on Facebook. This will allow listeners to preview songs while still staying within their Facebook app or webpage.”

Facebook launched this feature in 2015 “initially working with streaming sites such as Spotify and iTunes. Patari joins a small group of streaming sites testing the product.”

Reflecting on this collaboration, Patari CEO, Khalid Bajwa said in a PR statement. “This collaboration marks a watershed moment for the local music industry, and especially for Patari. Our participation in this product is proof that it is possible to set up a sustainable platform for Pakistani music that can have a global reach.”

Patari’s Director of Content, Ahmer Naqvi added that “the collaboration with Facebook is a fantastic way for our users to access our vast database of Pakistani music and further enrich the social and cultural value of one of Pakistan’s most vibrant art forms.”

The Music Stories partnership with Facebook is another milestone for Patari, “which last year had become the first Pakistani digital media platform to pay royalties to its artists in the amount of Rs 1.25 million that was paid out last December.”

The platform, launched in September 2015 “while being incubated at PITB’s Plan9 and afterwards PlanX boasts of over a hundred thousand monthly active users.”

Outside of Patari, Google has also made an interesting, possibly game-changing announcement last week by introducing the YouTube Partner Programme which will allow artists and content creators in Pakistan a chance to monetize their work. The announcement was made at a spanking event, which featured reps from Google as well as a slew of artists whose existence is proof that the entertainment industry in Pakistan has enormous potential and is full of visionary creators.

We must also mention the brilliant crew of Salt Arts who have given Karachi many a nights of gorgeous live music and will continue to do so in the coming days ahead.

In 2016, after incredible shows with the likes of Sounds of Kolachi, The Alycia Dias Ensemble, The D/A Method, Mirage and Natasha Beyg, the Salt Arts crew is gearing up for its next few shows with some remarkable artists. First up is Salt Soirée 4 which will bring forth a night of smashing music with Slowspin, rightly dubbed “Karachi’s beautiful secret”. Having picked up the LSA award for Best Emerging Talent in Music, earlier this year, Slowspin has several heart-melting EPs to her name and is the kind of artist every music aficionado must witness live, more than once. Her show will take place on Wednesday 5th October at Côte Rôtie in Karachi.

Other than Slowspin, Salt Arts is also giving Karachi a chance to witness the groovy sounds of one Jimmy Khan. Having entered mainstream music consciousness with the song ‘Baarish‘ that found a place for itself on the soundtrack of Ho Mann Jahan, Jimmy Khan can be seen in Karachi on October 26 as part of Salt Soiree 5 which will take place at Côte Rôtie. Khan will also play another show, also presented by Salt Arts, on October 29 at the Sattar Buksh Café. More information on these shows can be found on Salt Arts official Facebook page.

As Coke Studio 9 winds down, other promising music initiative – Levis Live - has entered the fray. While the first gig took place in Lahore in the last week of September and featured Abdullah Qureshi, Nescafe Basement stars Maria Unera and Sania Shehzad as well as Overload as the headlining act, there are plenty of other shows in the pipeline with one gig slated to take place every month for the next ten months (barring Muharram and Ramazan). Farhad Humayun is playing the role of creative consultant and providing his Riot Studios as the place to be for these live sessions and the gigs will be shot, post-produced and released online for further consumption.

So yes, while certain members of the entertainment industry, on both sides of the border continue to spew venom about cultural exchange, which has culminated in the cancellation of shows by artists like Atif Aslam and Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, these initiatives will provide those of us who are jaded by this war-drenched narrative a chance to unwind while allowing for a wonderful exchange of musical ideas between home-grown artists.