We Are Invested in Unlocking Opportunities for Local Creators by Leveraging Spotify’s Reach – Khan FM

Music runs through the blood of the subcontinent natives. Ever since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Radio Pakistan was the prime source of music lovers, which started with the melodies of classical music featuring popular singers like Madam Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, and many more.

The shift to a more pop music culture happened in the 80s when Nazia Hasan and her brother Zoheb Hassan introduced their iconic songs. But since the 80s was an era of a more Islamization Regime, we couldn’t see exponential growth in the music industry and halted it for almost a decade.

However, this culture was reinitiated in its excursion in the 90s when Vital Signs and Junoon took pop music higher than ever with the introduction of band culture. Carrying on from there, our music industry never looked backward, as every passing year bought new emerging talent, be it vocal artists, musicians, or composers.

From then on, Pakistan and its evergreen soil produced widely popular music icons like Junaid Jamshed, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Jawad Ahmed, and Abrar ul Haq along with pop bands like Strings and Jal the Band.

With the technological modernization, companies like Coca Cola, Nescafe, and Velo also enhanced their efforts to spread the voices of Pakistan across all electronic and digital mediums through platforms like Coke Studio, Nescafe Basement, and Velo Sound Station with improved musical composition and equipment for voice enhancement to soothe the ears of our audience.

Adding to the spark, Khan FM a seasoned professional in the entertainment industry of Pakistan launched Spotify across Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh after being hired by Spotify in 2020 as the Artist & Label Partnerships Manager for the region.

It is important to mention here that Spotify is one of the world’s largest music streaming service providers with over 406 million monthly active users all across the globe.

ProPakistani spoke with Khan FM about the scope of the music industry in Pakistan and how Spotify is utilizing its efforts to revive it through global outreach.

Here is how the conversation went:

Talk us through your first year in Pakistan.

Our first year at Spotify in Pakistan has been incredible. We have had a tremendously positive response from listeners, artists, and labels. As a result, we have seen a rise in a new generation of creators and artists.

Pakistani culture has crossed over with local artists, finding fans worldwide, meaning more people are discovering Pakistani music than ever before. With our global reach, we plan to continue to drive growth in the Pakistani music industry and help artists make a living from their art.

How successful was Spotify in engaging local artists, and how does this all work?

We engage with local artists as a core component of our work. We host masterclasses to teach labels and artists how to use Spotify For Artists, our free tool that helps musicians learn more about their audiences and how their music performs.

As a result, more creators are making music and succeeding more than ever before.

Twenty years ago, the music industry was very restricted, especially in Pakistan. You needed to have the right resources and connections to produce, record, and distribute music.

Now fast forward to our arrival, and you have much more control over how you want to create your music, record it, and of course, how you want to distribute it.

Barriers to entry have been lowered, and Spotify’s accessibility makes it easier for artists’ music to be heard, even if they are not signed to a label.

I mean, let’s just talk about the Spotify playlists. When we think about discovering Pakistani independent artists, we think about ‘Fresh Finds Pakistan‘. This playlist was launched just a few months ago and is dedicated exclusively to independent artists, helping them get discovered by fans not only in Pakistan but all over the world.

It’s focused on developing the artists and allowing them to collaborate and grow while also giving them the tools to be sustainable and have that long-term approach towards music. And we know that we have independent artists in Pakistan who are doing everything by themselves.

Artists like Zoha Zuberi, Maanu, Young Stunners, Karakoram, TakaTak, Bayaan, Anural Khalid, Asteria and the list goes on. So many independent creators are out there, and playlists like “Fresh Finds Pakistan” are committed to supporting them from day one.

We also have our playlist pitching tool on Spotify for Artists, which is essential for artists to learn about. First, it helps artists ensure that their tracks are playlisted in the right playlists.

Secondly, it gives Spotify editors valuable information about the artist’s music. And finally, it enables our teams to make sure that we make the right decisions when placing an artists’ song in a specific playlist and market.

So if anyone wants to share their music with the world through Spotify, always make sure that’s the go-to tool for every release.

Starting off your career in Pakistan, how close is this market to your heart?

I think it would be indescribable for me to say what Pakistan means to me. Pakistani music has always been very close to my heart, from the valleys of Indus to the bedroom jams of Karachi and Lahore to intimate music gatherings across the nation. It’s always been a universal language, and we have somehow sustained our music traditions and elements.

Right now, we want to evolve the Pakistani music industry, and it’s important to bring local stakeholders up to speed with the global standards of audio streaming. Awareness and education are a significant part of the journey and understanding of the Pakistani music industry.

There are immense skills and talent among the creator community in Pakistan, so we want to make sure that we can play a game-changing role in their journeys while eradicating piracy.

Where do you see Spotify in Pakistan in the upcoming years?

As they say, the party just got started! We are celebrating one year in Pakistan, and we are super proud of it. We are happy to see that people are enjoying Spotify as much as we are.

Expect bolder activations by Spotify celebrating Pakistani culture and expect to see more newcomers in the scene who are getting recognized globally through our playlisting.

And given that innovation is close to our heart, expect to see new features that will make the user experience even more intuitive through the best audio content and features tuned to local preferences.

Is Spotify planning to invest in Pakistan, given the industry is huge and has great potential?

As invested partners, we are focused on growing the market by creating a healthy industry value chain from the industry front. This means driving value to our partners, including indie labels like ReArts, Silent Roar, Aleph, Cape Monze, Laal Series and so many more creators and brands.

In addition, there is an immense opportunity for growth in transitioning users from the mindset of piracy towards streaming music, and that is our whole and sole focus for now. Of course, you’ll be witnessing many amazing audio programs develop in the near future.

How is the Pakistani market different from other markets in the world?

Pakistani music has always somehow managed to remain faithful primarily to its forms. We are proud of our heritage, and at the same time, we have acknowledged global music genres and trends in our own culture.

We have hailed the greatest Sufi-Rock band from Asia to Pop Queens over the years, and now we are witnessing a national shift towards a new generation of creators, many of whom are inventing their own sub-genres in music.

And we, as proud Pakistanis, need to champion our artists. We need to respect their craft and give the music of Pakistan its place in history.

You see, we have several styles like Balochi music, Punjabi music, Pashto music, and we have so many amazing sub-genres and languages with so much richness.

Who knows where they will lead the music scene in the future, but it’s all exhilarating. We at Spotify are proud to be a part of this journey and will continue to celebrate Pakistani music in the country and beyond.


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