Adnan Butt: Pushing musical talent online

Young entrepreneur hopes to build online audience for Pakistani musicians.

Sher Khan November 08, 2013
Young entrepreneur hopes to build online audience for Pakistani musicians.


Innovator, achiever and budding entrepreneur Muhammad Adnan Butt has big plans for Pakistani music. With his musical venture Walnut Studios, he combines his digital marketing experience and sheer passion for music to help local independent artists connect with an audience at a global level. And what better way of doing that than connecting them with the world online?

Butt aims to provide local musicians with the opportunity of making their work more accessible at major international platforms including YouTube and Spotify, which will further help them generate royalties. In an attempt to do so, his company has recently decided to partner with Dream Digital, a European music syndication company and an Indian music enterprise, Culture Machine.

“Partnerships with these companies allow us to syndicate our content on platforms that we cannot connect with on our own. Especially being a Pakistani firm, setting up individual contracts with Spotify, Amazon or YouTube is next to impossible. Through this partnership, we want to focus on producing good content,” says Butt, who is also part of the Shell LiveWIRE International Hall of Fame for entrepreneurs.

Apart from this association, the studio is also working on launching its first online music competition, Pakistan Superstar. The competition will try to utilise the company’s digital and social media apparatus to select top musical talent who will be then chosen to record singles in the company’s Lahore-based studio. Most of the content will be user-generated but will initially be looked into by producers at the studio.

“We don’t want to deviate from our original goal. We want their talent to be recognised through the digital platform and give them the opportunity to record at our studio,” explains Raja Nabeel Banwa, who is heading the project, scheduled for a launch by the end of this month.

The independent project hopes to select 10 people who would be judged by a panel of experts online and the songs will be selected by the label, itself. “Most competitions do have an online component but we only want to do this online. We are ignoring television because we are trying to make a point that it is Pakistan’s first digital music reality show,” asserts Banwa.

The studio is managed by Hassan Omer of SYMT and Nabeel Banwa of Char-Payee. It has been producing music by local artists at subsidised rates in the hopes of generating content that can connect with the global market. The label is now producing seven to nine professionally produced tracks and is hoping to create a wider interest for Pakistani music abroad. The major markets are India, Middle East, Europe and Africa

“When YouTube was banned, Pakistani artistes stopped believing in the possibilities of monetising or selling their content. But I believe we can make our presence felt in the international market,” remarks Butt.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2013.

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Anushay Qaiser | 7 years ago | Reply

A much needed gesture! Can't wait for the launch now

optimist | 7 years ago | Reply

We need a paid film website for Lollywood too. There are only a handful countries where even the blockbusters of Pakistan were relased (e.g. Bol, Khuda Ke Liye). . I think there is no chance of legal release of Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi (it is available on youtube, no one has claimed copyright and asked youtube to remove it!!). There must be many people who are willing to pay for quality Pakistani films in countries like Malaysia and Spain where there is a sizable diaspora.

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