LAHORE: Haroon Rashid of Awaz fame seems to have a knack for doing the unprecedented. The genius behind Pakistan’s first, multi-award winning animated series, Burka Avenger, has now officially launched what he claims to be the country’s first and only legal music website.
The portal, known as Taazi, provides not just music but also generates royalties for the artists it features and their work. Although the beta version of the website has been operational for over a year now, the official launch took place in Lahore earlier this week.
Ali Noor with wife Mandana
“Taazi is currently home to over 100,000 songs and 2,000 registered artists but we want to help launch many more,” said Haroon of his latest venture. “Ali Zafar launched his musical tribute to the victims of the APS attack, Urein Ge, via Taazi recently.” In fact, the day before the song’s release, Ali penned an emotional letter for his fans, urging them to use Taazi. “You can play your part by downloading the song responsibly – through the mentioned link of Taazi.com and iTunes,” the letter read. “They have collaborated to send all profits earned towards the cause.”
In a country with a fledging music industry and a lack of industrial, technological and governmental support, there is a gaping hole between musicians and their fans that Taazi.com hopes to fill. Artists can connect with their audience via the digital route, just as the rest of the world is doing on websites like Soundcloud and YouTube. These portals have failed in Pakistan due to unique social conditions, unreliable payment methods and close to a 136 million phone users. Taazi, however, has developed its billing system in so that mobile users can access their music easily. The website is integrated with local telecom giants Mobilink, Telenor and Ufone as well as PayPal for international customers. About 70 per cent of the revenue generated is paid to the artist while the remaining 30 per cent is retained.
Many of Haroon’s family and friends from the entertainment industry were present at the launch in support of the project. Musician Ali Azmat, for instance, had nothing but praise for Taazi. “Everything is beginning to change and Taazi is a big part of that change,” he said. “It is a website by an artist, for the artists.” Adnan Dhool of the rockband Soch mirrored the sentiment, saying that, “When we first started, we had no idea an online platform, where artists could make money, could ever be possible.” Singer Nouman Javaid added, “The inherent problem with Pakistani music is that it is not easy to discover. Taazi will change that.”
Although Taazi’s beta version struggled to create a substantial impact due to its confusing interfaces and poor marketing, Haroon is set to take it to great heights. He is already in talks with Pemra and does not look at Taazi as a mere money-making venture.
Taazi will have a separate launching ceremony in Karachi and Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2015.