A Saavn of local music

KARACHI: With the arrival of the digital-age, the days of collecting music by picking and choosing cassettes and CDs to create your personal music library have passed. Embracing the changing times, several international musicians and listeners are now supporting online portals as their music is available through an array of streaming sites, such as Soundcloud, Spotify and Pandora, all of which have emerged over the span of last five years.

In spite of their popularity worldwide, almost all of these portals received a slow response upon their arrival in Pakistan. This is something which EMI Pakistan is hopeful of rectifying with their latest venture of launching the music platform Saavn in the country. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Zeeshan Chaudhry, general manager of EMI Pakistan, shared how Saavn will prove to be a good omen for the music industry.

The online music portal is famous for housing a diverse library of legal content. It includes above seven million tracks ranging from Bollywood tunes to Western hits.

With their vast music-catalogue, Chaudhry revealed that they would be regularly updating Saavn’s database with the best of Pakistani music. “We have close to 60,000 songs in our catalogue and uploading them all at once will be a bit difficult,” he said.

Ever since returning to the country’s music fold the record label has been frequently monitoring the digital content to take instant action against anything that is uploaded without their permission. Recently, a local music platform that had gained immense popularity overtime, Patari, had to take down all of EMI’s content after being accused for uploading unlicensed music. Explaining their stance, Chaudhry said, “In order to help the industry grow, things must happen in a systematic manner and a legal way. Unfortunately, it is not only the case of Pakistan but the whole world.”

Chaudhry even cautioned that Saavn’s arrival should not be viewed as an attempt to thwart Patari’s efforts. As unlike the newly-developed Pakistani music website, the former is one of the largest music-based platforms in the world. He said it would be very ‘childish’ to consider it as a ploy.

With the shortage of music-based applications in Pakistan, it will be interesting to see how Saavn will be received by the local audience. Speaking about the functioning of the mobile-app, Chaudhry said, “There will be two versions, ad and ad-free. If users pay and subscribe for the app, they will be able to use the ad-free version.”

Even though the initiative is being viewed as a welcoming sign by the company, not all the artists share the same sentiment. “It’s great that an international platform is being brought to Pakistan. While EMI is bringing Saavn, I hope they amend their previous mistakes as they only paid Awaz, royalties for the debut album only in the first year,” said Faakhir, a former Awaz band member.

Although, the singer was glad that foreign music corporations were taking keen interest in Pakistan, he would have been much more excited if an international music channel extended its operations to the country or even provided a dedicated three to four hour slot for Pakistani music.

Apart from Saavn, EMI Pakistan also plans to introduce other music platforms in the near future but currently they are more interested in seeing how their current collaboration pans out. Although there is no fixed timeline for the launch of Saavn, Chaudhry assured that it would be available in the country “very soon”.

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