The re-emergence of music in Pakistan over the last few months has inadvertently coincided with the founding of Patari, an online music-streaming portal, solely dedicated to local content. The recent development and release of the Patari application are signs of how local music is once again set foot in an exciting passage of play. Khalid Bajwa, CEO and co-founder of the music portal, talked to The Express Tribune about Patari’s rocky journey and their road map for progress.
Having just ticked off 25,000 users following the release of their app, Bajwa spoke about how the company had set their eyes on maximising users, something that would have a trickle-down effect on other aspects of the project as well. “When we get to about one million users, we can also launch our own premium version, start charging advertisers and even pay artists, as a larger user-base is directly proportional to better advertising and subscription revenues,” he explained.
But despite the respectable numbers the portal seems to have generated so far, the silver lining for Bajwa is the fact that a major portion of their new user-base is from India. “It’s really exciting that five to six per cent of our users are Indians, which is why I don’t view applications such as Saavn as a threat to Patari. At the end of the day, their unique selling point is Indian film music, while ours is Pakistani music.”
Of the roadblock Patari had hit prior to its release when EMI had forced it to remove all its content, Bajwa shared the issue has been resolved and that they have now signed an agreement with the record label, which will allow them to upload songs by legends, such as Noor Jehan, Vital Signs and Junoon. “We have come to an agreement with EMI and they have agreed to put up their music on Patari,” he said. “Since they have a huge library, we’ll gradually put up music from their catalogue, carefully identifying the content that belongs to them and working closely with them to have their archives placed on Patari,” he added.
Despite Coke Studio being tantamount to spring in the local music scene, Bajwa said Patari isn’t over-reliant on the show to attract viewers, as songs by independent artists have also increased their listeners. “It’s true that we’ve had a lot of visitors because of Coke Studio, but we received a similar boost in users when we uploaded the soundtrack of Karachi Se Lahore by Sur Dervesh. And there’s a lot to look forward to because Nescafé Basement will also release very soon.”
Keeping in line with their tradition of promoting new talent, Bajwa revealed that the company will soon release a series of songs under the banner ‘Patari Asli’ — a play on the word ‘original’. “We’ll fund musicians, monetise their songs and give them the rights in exchange for them making new music,” he added. With the Android version of the application having already been launched, Bajwa said its iOS version is expected to be released very soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2015.