10 Tips For Pakistani Musicians

February 8, 2011

by Hasan Faridi

1. Promotion

In the music industry, if no one knows about you, you cease to exist. So promoting your music is essential for you to be heard.

Promoting through the Internet is the best method in Pakistan (See number 2)

If you’re lucky enough to land time on television, you can expect to be worthy of success. Coke Studio has showcased a variety of acts, which have gained countless downloads. Arif Lohar and Meesha have gained over 3 million Youtube hits. AAG TV is also a popular channel putting a variety of Pakistani acts in the limelight.

Promoting the music via the radio is also a handy technique. On a bigger scale, The Sketches and Aag have been featured on the BBC Asian Network on an International scale already. Pakistani musicians should aim to cross the borders into worthy territory, to let the world know Pakistan has real talent.

Performances on Battle of the Bands and AAG also help in raising popularity and awareness. The likes of Mizraab, Aaroh and Messiah are good examples. Gigs and performances are useful tools, in getting a fan base, getting promoted and maybe even earning some green stuff. Money of course.

2. Online Presence

The dog is not mans best friend anymore, it’s the Internet.

By far, the Internet is the most useful way to promote music and reach a wider audience. Especially in Pakistan. With the current decline in CD sales, and as downloads soar, the best way to promote is through this blessed invention. With the exception of viruses and malware, spam and popups…

Submitting content to various websites, especially Pakistani music websites and blogs, can help reach a wider audience. Such services gain countless hits each day, and are updated regularly. You’d be a fool not to make use of these gems.

3. Originality

Originality is a must, but unrecognizable in most cases.

Musicians and bands are often blamed for the lack of creativity, so it is vital to make something new to stand out from the common crowd. You’ll be respected for it. Yes, everything has been heard of and music genres have been made into dust, but the sky is the limit.

Roxen got a setback in 2009 with their single “Bhuj Hai Gaya”, when they were accused of stealing Omer Nadeem’s “Dil Ka Diya”. Legal action hasn’t been taken, so copyright protection is also a must, to prevent one from stealing your work.

With the exception of worthy covers, such as Odyssey’s rendition of Hasan Jehangir’s 80s classic “Hawa Hawa” and EP’s rendition of Sajjad Ali’s 90s hit “Bolo Bolo”, if your going to cover, make sure you do it right.

4. The Extra Mile

Eyes widen with awe when boundaries are crossed and people start talking. The Mullah’s eyes certainly widened when The Kominas combined Islam with the genre of punk.

And we can’t forget the popular single “Kuthay Te Tho Uttay” by Noori which was banned in Pakistan. For the title, concept or the relentless middle finger in the video? It certainly got people talking.

There’s nothing more steamier than Pakistani politics. How on earth did politics actually become entertaining? The likes of Shehzad Roy helped bring it in the limelight with “Bullshit” and “Laga Reh”.

Releasing exceptional videos also catches eyes. The outstanding special effects in Faraz Haider’s “Andher” were outstanding, and different from the common boy-meets-girl story line. Instead, the video was packed with great band presence as the scorching fire engulfs the set.

5. Less Bollywood

Let’s face it, lyrics on love and more love has been done so much that it makes the Devil cry.

If you are looking for a more original sound, let’s suggest staying away from Bollywood. There’s nothing wrong with it and many people do listen, but in most cases, it lacks originality. The rather judgmental listener has become sick and tired of the typical lyrics.

“I met you, you met me, let’s go and dance, until our dad forbids us from marrying.”

Well, maybe not that serious…

Atif Aslam and Call have sung for such Bollywood movies, but lost a few fans in the process. Atif still has all the girls. This isn’t criticism, but it’s a choice you need to make.

6. Fanbase

It is important to gain a fanbase. As an example, if it weren’t for the fans that voted for Pakistani guitar virtuoso Faraz Anwar, he would not have made it to compete in the Guitar Idol finals.

The Sketches and Odyssey are both examples of bands that keep their social networking updated. It’s a good technique, to keep fans loyal and updated on current progress.

Gigs and performances are one of the best ways to get a fanbase, even if you keep seeing the same faces. It becomes a sort of family ritual, like at the dinner table, except it’s the time you can headbang and not get told off for doing so. But it all pays off when you need to sell merchandise, because the fans will always be around the corner.

7. Making Money

In Pakistan, there is a small (but improving) market for CD sales. The CDs stay in Pakistan nevertheless, unless a friend or relative brings back a souvenir. Let’s not even think about postage and packaging.

Downloads however, thrive. ITunes have been used to earn a small amount of money, but it ceases to work in Pakistan. And it fails to work especially with an audience so used to free downloading, it puts ITunes to shame. Fans should however, support the artists who give them the gift of music.

Gigs and performances are a good source of income. Many people are willing to pay for tickets and have a good time during the process. Not only is money earned, but it also gives the chance to gain a loyal fan base.

How can you earn money when people are less willing to pay for music? Maybe because the best thing is to…

8. Go Free

Being an artist or band is hard. And making money is even harder. But as they say…

“The best things in life come free”

That’s why many artists and bands in Pakistan have taken to dishing out free singles and even albums. The market is tough, and Internet downloads soar. There is no stopping it. Legal and illegal downloading have always found a way round the music industry’s tightening grips.

Messiah’s “Scriptures of Sorrow” and Ureed’s “Aaiena” were popular hits amongst fans and whilst dishing out these freebies, they gained more publicity and fans. At least it makes it easier for you to be heard.

9. The Name

Why do you think Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta changed her name to Lady Gaga?

An effective name makes you recognizable and memorable. We have had similar names showing up, so research and make sure you are the only one.

There has been a tidal wave of humorous names emerging from some strange minds, like Foreskin and Breast Milk. But hey, at least it stays in your mind. Could you imagine a new Bollywood film soundtrack with these beauties on them?

10. Expect Failure

The music industry in Pakistan thrives, and more talent has emerged from the depths in the past decade. But by no means, does it make it easier for someone to pick up a guitar and become successful. It’s not even easy to buy a guitar, with the big holes in our wallet.

With the exception of Justin Bieber, it takes time, effort and talent to make it big.

If you’re good looking, you can probably forget the 3 principles…