Pakistani Musicians Taking the Indie Route

October 16, 2010

A lot of artists this year chose to release their music independently. While this could be an option for the lot which can pay for the production, distribution, marketing and lawyers, this can’t even be a consideration for most other musicians.

Earlier this year, we highlighted some interesting facts about how digital music has been the cause of no physical sales in Pakistan. Bottomline: like CDs killed cassettes, MP3s put an end to era of CDs. That said, American market could still sustain itself with launch of iTunes in 2003 which could let people buy less-tangible-mp3s too. With no model of online sales in Pakistan, the indie releases have to be carried out the traditional way with physical distribution of CDs. This ultimately results costing a lot more money than most indie artists in Pakistan can afford.

With record labels carrying out releases at the pace of snail, musicians have lost faith in them. Fire Records only managed to release less than 20 percent of the 60 releases they had planned for 2010. This resulted in a lot of independent releases this year. Last year Overload made their album “Pichal Pairee” available for free download online while Mekaal Hasan Band started to sell “Saptak” on CDBaby and iTunes independently. With little online buyers in Pakistan, most of the audience couldn’t get to hear the sound of Saptak.

This year, musicians seem to take yet another route. Ali Zafar has already announced his own record label and filming studio called “Alif Records“. Annie is also working on launching her pop career at UK with her own label by the name of AK Records (probably abbreviation of Annie Khalid Records). Hadiqa Kiani has also been spotted with her very own record label by the name of HK Records. Rohail Hyatt in an interview with Madeeha Syed, a renowned local journalist, talked about plans to release his solo album and also somewhat nodded when asked about starting a (rumored) record label.

This still appears to be an independent journey but with traditional distribution. With traditional distributions planned, it is obvious this journey can be fruitful for only a few artists. What direction should rest of the industry take?