Concerts remain an elusive dream

Saadia Qamar April 23, 2010

KARACHI: Musicians continue to lament the loss of earnings in Pakistan as a result of the uncertain security situation in the country.

Even though large-scale events like fashion weeks in Karachi and Lahore have been organised without a hitch over the past two years, concerts have taken a huge hit. Ticketed events are few and far between, and the only musical entertainment remains through low-key shows organised by corporate sponsors or at venues such as Karachi’s The Second Floor or Lahore’s Peeru Cafe.

Is there any future for concerts in the country? The Express Tribune spoke to musicians for their two cents on the issue. Mekaal Hasan, The Mekaal Hasan Band “A true artist in the country today is surviving on their meagre savings that they earned during the couple of years when the music scene was alive and concerts were regularly happening in Karachi or Lahore. Since this has all been stopped, the government of Pakistan must fund their artists and send them abroad to cultural festivals which will also boost a ‘soft image’ of the country.”

Omar Bilal Akhtar, Aunty Disco Project “Security is the main concern for why concerts are not happening in Karachi. People are genuinely scared of what might happen. But more importantly the next big thing that has hit the music industry is the global recession. Big corporate functions are no longer affairs to remember. Most of us are surviving because we have a day job at our disposal to make ends meet. It would surely have been better if some telecommunication giant in our country came forward and hired some of us on a full time contract.For mid-level people, surviving in the music world is a very hard thing to do.”

Shallum Xavier, Fuzon Shallum Xavier is optimistic, and said that three to four corporate events have taken place recently where Fuzon performed. However he asserted, “Things pick up and then they slow down.” So how does Fuzon survive? “Emu and I have our studios, so that’s how we are making ends meet and Rameez works for a private channel. So things are turning out just fine so far.”


Saad Azher | 12 years ago | Reply Mekaal and Fuzon are two of the best live acts in the country and it is sad that the lack of concerts have deprived fans from watching them on stage. It is even sadder that their only real means of income generation i.e. concerts, has dried up and that they have to look for alternative means of income to make ends meet, a fact rightly brought to light by this article. @ Ali Hasan - Mekaal's suggestion isn't laughable, he is absolutely correct, music first needs to be recognized as an industry; which to date it isn't, something that doesn't come under the Ministry of Water and Power but under the Ministry of Industry and Production. The Arts council is regularly given funds for the promotion of Pakistani Art and Culture, there is no reason for that to not extend to the field of Music and/or patronage to be provided to musicians that represent our country on an international level. The responsibility of developing the industry falls on everyone that benefits from it, from the Government to you and me, you can do your part by organizing paid concerts for musicians and discouraging piracy and illegal downloads. What has Aatif Aslam or Ali Zafar or Bilal Maqsood/Faisal Kapadia done to promote our industry? - Isn't success at an international level the best possible advertisement for the industry and the quality of its talent e.g. had you heard of South African Cinema before "District 9" became a hit! With all due respect for Hamza and OBA, it seems to me like they are trying to earn a little extra cash, which is sad because as very talented musicians they should be earning money through concerts. What is the point of a studio! How about it pays the bills when revenue from sources like album sales and concerts dry up! People have mouths to feed and bills to pay! Indie Labels, conventional labels, open source, royalty free, it doesn't matter how one gets their music out there, album sales don't make the artist any real money which is why they rely on concerts, what is the point of the exercise if one can't make a living on their music and how do fledgeling musicians benefit from these if even established musician have a hard time making money! As for initiatives taken by the west, now that is laughable, because it was the complacency of the major record labels here in the west that has accounted for the the drop in album sales globally and availability of pirated music and downloads, if they had invested in technology to prevent this like the Hollywood TV and Film industry, underdeveloped music industries might have had a fighting change of survival from album sales alone. @Sarah - Artist don't organize shows, promoters and organizers do, they pay the artist a flat fee and as long as one gets to enjoy the music I don't see why it should bother anyone unless you really really dislike that particular brand! Aahhh why do I even bother!
Sarah Rehman | 12 years ago | Reply Hi Saadia! Yes I know that but the point here is that the security situation was still the same for these guys so we can't keep blaming that for lack of concerts & events.Catwalk is owned by Frieha Altaf, who's one smart woman & even if it was an ivite only event,they had to pay the stars and for the event.65% taxes,lack of infra structure and extreme dislike shown by all when artists get sponsorships for their shows are reasons for the current situation. This was just one show you talked about,all the rest were open for all.And yes, Ali's suggestions are all perfect.That's the way to go.
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