Has Rohail Hyatt fizzled out from Coke Studio?

Published: January 15, 2014
Strings appears to be leading the pack of those that are being considered as possible replacements for Hyatt. PHOTO: FILE

Strings appears to be leading the pack of those that are being considered as possible replacements for Hyatt. PHOTO: FILE


Coke Studio season 6 not only saw an abrupt ending, but also may be looking towards an entirely new beginning. Owing to the decreasing popularity of the show, along with some legal issues Coke Studio is facing, the entire project is headed for a complete re-branding.

Doing so also, ultimately, entails a new producer for South Asia’s most widely watched music show which, according to our sources in Coke Studio, has a planned run for a minimum of ten seasons.

Rohail Hyatt, who has, so far, been producing the show, left for Thailand last Sunday. Hyatt ended the latest season of Coke Studio hastily, producing only five episodes instead of the expected eight. It appears that even some key members weren’t aware that the number of episodes had been cut down, and so drastically at that.

“All I knew was that this wasn’t supposed to be the last episode, at least another episode or two were in the pipeline,” says an individual who is part of the Coke Studio team.

The Express Tribune has repeatedly attempted to approach Hyatt over the last two weeks in order to obtain his version of recent events and to determine his future with the project. Hyatt did not respond, and is now out of the country.

It appears that plans to replace Hyatt had been under way well before the sixth season of Coke Studio went into production, as multiple popular music producers from Pakistan were approached by the Coca Cola marketing team as early as March last year.

“They have considered more or less all the mainstream music producers in Pakistan and haven’t said yes to any of them,” said one of the producers who were approached for the project. None of the producers approached are willing to give out their names or come on the record, possibly because of the hopes associated with producing the biggest music show in Pakistan.

However, there is a strong rumour in the music industry that, owing to their popular name and established song writing skills, the band Strings will be a probable replacement for Hyatt.

The band has reportedly been approaching seasoned sound technicians and production teams for a three-month-long studio project recently.  With the kind of music Strings has come up with for Moor, a consideration to spearhead a new era for Coke Studio is not at all surprising.

While there still appears to be a possibility that Hyatt might stay on as a supervising producer, it is likely that he will no longer be solely handling the reins of the show. Those that are being approached might feature as guest producers from the next season on, in a format that it similar to that of Coke Studio @MTV from across the border.

We did manage to get in touch with the band, which is currently touring internationally, but they chose to remain tight-lipped regarding their possible participation in any major studio project.

Since Hyatt was not immediately available for comment, the Coca Cola brand team was approached by us for their version of the story, and they were initially willing to come on record regarding this rumoured development. Later, they declined to respond after looking at the questions that were directed their way, based on the information given by our anonymous sources as mentioned in this write-up.

Coke Studio has also been undergoing litigation, which may have been the reason behind these sudden developments, but no one on the team is willing to talk about the case. While some may assume that the case could be an extension of the problems that arose between Coke Studio and Frequency Media (The Company that produces Coke Studio) when Hyatt and his ex-wife Umber got divorced, our sources say otherwise.

Frequency Media was co-owned by Hyatt and his ex-wife, and both were equal partners in the revenue, making their divorce quite relevant to the matter at hand. Following the divorce, Umber continues to be a 50 per cent share holder in the project. However, the possible end of the deal with Frequency media could have made the matter of distribution of revenue pop up again.

A close friend of Hyatt’s spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, and shared his views on the matter: “Everything was settled with Umber both personally and professionally, and this does not make sense at all, not unless something I am unaware of has come up recently. I can’t say much.”

A member of the Coke Studio team, who also chose to remain anonymous, has indicated that the case is about intellectual property rights. This is quite likely the situation, given that Coke Studio has been playing around with IP (Intellectual Property) laws for quite some time now. Ali Zafar’s cover of Pathanay Khan’s Yaar Dadhi Ishq and Meesha Shafi’s Dasht-e-Tanhai, to name a few, were used on the show without formal consent from the concerned record labels. The brand team of Coca Cola also declined to officially address the legal issues surrounding the Coke Studio project.

Whatever the reasons are behind this shortened season of Coke Studio, the show must go on. Given that it was Hyatt’s vision and professional attitude that made six successful seasons possible, it will be very tough to find a replacement that can fill his shoes, if that is indeed the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Nikki
    Jan 15, 2014 - 8:28PM

    This man was doing excellent.Recommend

  • KB
    Jan 15, 2014 - 8:37PM

    We love Politics – even in Music!Recommend

  • Nescafe Basement
    Jan 15, 2014 - 8:37PM

    Isn’t that too much speculation? Even I am worried :(Recommend

  • UJ
    Jan 15, 2014 - 8:57PM

    There is need of multiple guest producers to multiply taste of music in Coke Studio just like MTV coke studio and this time they should give chance to Meekal Hasan Band, a phenomenal band that is one of best live performing band in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2014 - 8:58PM

    If this is true, then its a very sad day for music. Not because the change will happen, but for the way this was stage managed.

    Crying. Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Jan 15, 2014 - 9:04PM

    good to know we are about to destroy one of the finer cultural institutions this country has produced in the past 10 years. Recommend

  • Asif
    Jan 15, 2014 - 9:21PM

    Replacing Rohail Hayat will be like replacing classic coke with new coke, you can never beat the taste of Rohail Hayat!! He is the man who can run and sustain and Coke Studio.Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2014 - 9:22PM

    Every rise have it’s fall.Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2014 - 9:35PM

    Strings? OH PLEASE!

    Mekaal now seems a strong contender for the post!Recommend

  • MythicalCMD
    Jan 15, 2014 - 11:10PM

    This news is crap. All crappy rumours. Coke studio and Rohail Hyatt are here to stay. Mark my words. Try harder Rafay, you’ve always had hostility towards Coke Studio.

    PUBLISH THIS ET!Recommend

  • Deepak Blassi
    Jan 15, 2014 - 11:22PM

    now this is a bad start to 2014 :-( you cant replace genius like Rohail Hyatt. i still wish we get to see remaining episodes of season 6.Recommend

  • Qasim
    Jan 16, 2014 - 1:31AM

    NaNa Naa Naa hey hey Goodbye Nana NaNa Naa Naa hey hey Goodbye


  • Fahad Hayat
    Jan 16, 2014 - 2:32AM

    If only the parchi system can end *coughs Ayesha Omar……the good shows can remain.


  • MHB
    Jan 16, 2014 - 2:45AM

    only one man can elevate CS to greater heights – Mekaal HassanRecommend

  • Metalmaniac
    Jan 16, 2014 - 3:52AM

    guys get a life n listen to some real bands.Recommend

  • yay
    Jan 16, 2014 - 4:36AM

    Good news. Not only was the season 6 the worst so far, Coke Studio was increasingly getting repetitive and stale. A new producer hopefully will be able to rejuvenate Coke Studio.


  • Ajaz Haque
    Jan 16, 2014 - 5:00AM

    Don’t mess with success. Coke Studio and its musicians were doing such a fabulous job until Season 5, but messing with its format and a disjointed music with foreign musicians working in isolation has been a complete failure.

    The beauty of Coke Studio was the harmony in local musicians, instrumentalists and singers, adding foreign artists has degraded Coke Studios.


  • John Doe
    Jan 16, 2014 - 6:26AM

    I can guarantee you from sources that this article is authentic and that Rohail Hyatt wont be back next season. The marketing team is currently actually in India looking for replacements.


  • Ammar
    Jan 16, 2014 - 8:05AM

    Rohail Hayat is pride of Pakistan and CS! His departure will be a sad chapter in the history of Pak music scene, if it happens! Strings and MH are no match to mighty RH! I am sure CS MTV would grab RH in a heart beat and we all be tuning into Indian CS.


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Jan 16, 2014 - 8:59AM

    The last paragraph said it all. I love the music Coke Studio has produced and hope Mr. Hyatt will be there next year and years to come. There is no comparison between Coke Studios Pakistan and India, Coke Studio Pakistan wins hands down and it is because of Mr.Hyatt’s talent.


  • sad
    Jan 16, 2014 - 11:40AM

    The silence of the brand team says everything to me.


  • sadist
    Jan 16, 2014 - 12:02PM

    @John Doe: Just hoping and praying that both you and the writer is right. Ameen sum Ameen


  • Junaid Khan
    Jan 16, 2014 - 2:18PM

    6 successful season? you must be kidding right? Season 4-5-6 are horrible to say the least.


  • Parvez
    Jan 16, 2014 - 4:28PM

    Rohail Hyatt seems to be trying but he ends up doing much the same thing…….. what Rohail Hyatt needs to do is to reinvent Rohail Hyatt ( from a musical perspective )Recommend

  • funnny
    Jan 16, 2014 - 5:18PM

    Why do I see coke coming up with a clarification in a week. These corporates never face the music when its needed. I think they’ll keep him as the Baba of Coke Studio and get others as the write up says and will never agree that these rumors and information is correct. I wish there was a term like Corporate Freedom of Speech like CSR. Agree with Jaon Doe ….they have been approaching people from all over the region.Recommend

  • A Abid S
    Jan 17, 2014 - 1:28AM

    I dont know the technicalities of music production and composition but i feel that Coke studio was really good in its first couple of years or so but the creativity was going down and thats probably the reason Coke wants to change the creator. I am not saying Rohail is not good but even if Aditia Choppra or Amir Khan does same thing over and over again they will lose the creative edge. Its a simple life cycle case. May be someone fresh will come in with fresh ideas. As a nation we are so use to follow personalities and we think if someone goes the system will collapse which should not be the case.Recommend

  • Faisal
    Jan 18, 2014 - 3:01AM

    I am very upset if Rohail is leaving the show. I think it was his vision and creativity that brought substance to the whole show. Coke Studio was the only show that revived my interest in Pakistani music. In addition, he produced 5 solid coke studio seasons and sixth season which is not as good as his previous productions but still he tried something new. I think if we have any appreciation of the creativity it requires to produce a season, we cannot expect every season to be blockbuster.


  • Danish Hassan
    Jan 23, 2014 - 3:58AM

    @MHB: Shut up idiot!


  • shahrukh
    Feb 2, 2014 - 6:51AM

    Get mekaal hasanRecommend

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