Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thoughts on the music industry

The ADP boys are having to evaluate the current situation we're in and make some serious decisions. The music industry has been hit pretty hard, just like every other industry, the corporate sponsors aren't there, concert attendances are dwindling and generally there's a real stagnation in the Pakistani music scene. The truth of the matter is, we're not getting paid the kind of money we were getting last year, sponsors are simply locking up their budgets.

I see a real opportunity here for the scene to get better, be more independent and learn to create openings for itself. I think this is a great time to be writing new music. Most other artists have simply shelved their current projects because they have been told not to release anything anytime soon. Most of the other industry big wigs are busy doing Coke Studio, so this is a great opportunity for underground bands to really perfect their act and fill in the concert gap. And I'm happy to see that a lot of them are.

But for us, we're kind of caught neither here nor there. We're better known than most local bands by virtue of getting our music videos on air, so we've kind of managed to shake that underground band label. But at the same time we're not really mainstream, because of the simple fact that our product, i.e. our recorded songs are simply not up to the commercial standard that they should be. I intend to remedy this situation very quickly.

Creatively, we are going through a great period. A couple of months ago, we made a conscious decision to have a more democratic songwriting process instead of me just writing out the entire thing in one go. So our jams have been really fruitful and small riffs or chord progressions are being turned into complete songs, which I find really fulfilling. Omar Khalid is contributing actively, not just on the drums but with song structure and bass notes. Plus we've got Ali Alam, another gifted songwriter who's always there to flesh out the song. Of course lyrics are still a problem but I hope I'm getting better.

The other exciting development is that we're shifting away from using the darbuka for Yasir and having him play keyboards. While we haven't got anything concrete yet, it's a completely different dynamic to have a keyboard sound in the band and it's been really exciting for us to experiment and see what we can come up with. The resulting songs we're writing are really upbeat and...dare I say it...danceable. I think we've collectively moved on from moody music and are making a conscious effort to make stuff that's lighter and more fun. More on that later...when I talk about 'Laal'

The Second Floor

As most of you know The Second Floor Cafe on Khayaban-E-Ittehad is a place that's really close to my heart. I've hosted Open-Mic Nights and given people opportunities to hold their first ever performances there, I've also performed there on my own. To me it's the perfect little place to showcase upcoming talent and generally meet with like-minded people. I've met so many interesting people through virtue of the T2F shows, we've almost become a community, of artists, photographers, poets, musicians and social workers, it really has been one of the places that helps me believe in Karachi and the people in it. Unfortunately the landlord has decided to evict them and now they need money to buy a new location. I contributed by organizing a series of musical performances through the month of March with upcoming talent to raise money. For me it's been extremely rewarding and the bands we're showcasing are some of the most exciting underground bands out there. Plus we have one final Open Mic night, where I hope to find even more wildly talented people.

I hope any of you reading in Karachi will turn out to the shows to support the cause. It really is something special and I don't want to see it shut down. All the events are Rs. 250 (minimum donation) and the bands playing are as follows

Friday March 6th : 7 on 3rd (they played an amazing show, more about them later)

Thursday March 12th: Rachel's Plan B

Friday March 20th: FLAM!

Monday 23rd March: Open Mic Night

Friday 27th March: "The Big Cheese" (this is my side project, covers band...yep more on them later..."

I know that ADP has been really lucky to get to the position we're in right now, and we did it on our own, bypassing the usual industry system. But for me, it'll all be useless if I can't do anything to make the underground scene better. It's not enough to merely make it on your own, for me it has to be 'If we can do it, so can you, and this is how..." One thing I feel musicians lack here is real camaraderie. We're all in such a constant state of competition because there are such few opportunities to go around. Plus Pakistani fans tend to be extreme in their support which polarizes a lot of people. It's like you can only love one artist at the expense of hating another...for e.g. "I LOVE ATIF ASLAM...ALI ZAFAR SUCKS" or "MAUJ ARE WAY BETTER THAN ADP, I HATE THEM, THOSE SHEEP-FUCKERS".

Another thing I've noticed is that every time there's a show where more than one act is performing, members of one band will not come out to see the others play. Main acts refuse to see the opening acts play, and if they do, they usually make fun of them. I remember earlier on in the ADP days, we opened for Saijd and Zeeshan who were my heroes, and they simply left after soundcheck, not waiting to watch us perform. I was absolutely heartbroken. Now I'm sure they had their reasons but in the end it just ruined what I had hoped to be an amazing moment. The fact of the matter is that established acts do very little to help out the younger ones. Sure they might let you open for them at a college or university, but are they giving you constructive criticism or giving you tips on how to go about recording your album? Are they going to put in a good word for you with their sponsors? No. Not because they're mean, but because our industry just pits everyone against each other to grab whatever limited resources there are. Performing or promoting another band means less of the sponsorship money, less of the concert crowd there to see you and less of the media attention.

Now I'm not asking us musicians to all hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya'. but I feel that promoting the musical industry as a whole can only help us collectively, not hurt us individually. While I may not be a highly established act now, if I ever do become one, I'll make sure no one will be able to say I never did anything to help the underground scene.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First comment. Huyyeah. \m/
I am not a musician (yet) but I would never pass up an opportunity to hold hands and sing folk songs.
The darbuka is going byebye? =/
Darkbuka is cool.
Keyboards are cool too.
They would really add something to your sound because they'll make your music fuller and more classic-rock-and-roll-ish. However, keep the darbuka because it gives you a distinctive sound...I'm not trying to tell you to experiment on Yasir and turn him into a four-armed mutant and neither am I some sort of Music-Guru so I shall shut up now. ^^
Also, there is nothing wrong with danceable rock music.
And I want to hear about the Big Chees!
Good luck =)

8:07 PM  
Blogger Ali. said...

dude! we got props from the great waqar zaka at the iba charity carnival on sunday! yes i know!! the biggest name in the industry! the man who lives on the edge!

but no seriously it was nice of him.

and lol, your blog is so wildly popular that people are msging me saying "DUDE OBA ACTUALLY MENTIONED YOUR BAND ON HIS BLOG WOW MAN".

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post. I wish you'd hurry up and elaborate on all the tell-you-later things!

Anyway, you're right about bigger players not supporting the minor ones. There was a concert at LUMS on valentine's day, featuring mizraab and s&z. Apparently, they both left after their soundchecks. Sitting in the crowd, or even somewhere else in isolation, and watching the opening acts would've been a very nice gesture.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When there are bands like ADP, how can bigger bands sit and watch them playing live with un-tuned guitars and awful vocals?

I have not seen new bands sitting in the audience and watching bigger bands perform live including ADP.

stop blaming others for your mistakes. Disband now its about time.

Entity Paradigm is back and i am happy bands like ADP wont get a chance to come on tv now :D

7:41 PM  
Blogger Ahsan said...

You've got to love trolls.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does Anonymous even bother reading this blog? ^^

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, yar, dost, bhaee, bhabhi... E.P. may be back but don't expect anything as good as Irtiqa from them. My guess is they are just a cheaper version of what they were around the time Irtiqa was released (I still have fawad and zulfi's bandbaja interviews with me). That, in itself, sucks.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eP is going to sound much better now because this time Salman Albert is going to compose songs. Xulfi ripped songs all his life.

Look at Call what they are doing now.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waitttt... EP is back? Srsly?
*does fan-girl dance*

12:43 AM  
Blogger Ali. said...

EP is back yay. Now we shall have more proof why tool is better than all the bands that rip them off. and i say this though i am not a tool fan.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@1st anonymous:

If you hate adp so much then don't bother reading news about them. Let them do what they are doing.

Dont Jalous! :p

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xulfi used to rip songs and now he is not a part of eP.

Its IRONIC how other ANONYMOUS posters are asking me to leave :)

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's nothing ironic. just leave. hahahah

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who the fuck is this anonymous? fuck off.

8:19 PM  
Blogger for every reaction.... said...

@Omar - very sad darbuka is going off...I dunno abt Pak, But It's unique for India, It adds an ethinic Glamour touch....But Music that takes off Takes first Priority

To Viscous anonymous-
I pity you,I Pity you more if your are a musician...To be so pett in life is hardly a life worth living

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for every reaction....
Thank God i am not a musician. I tried singing and playing but i sounded exactly the way ADP sounds so i decided not to do music.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


stop wasting your time here, go home and ask mama to give you money so that you can go to the market and get groceries.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But your Mama asked me to come here and post *confused*.

anyone can talk about anyones parents just like you did. Its better not to make that mistake next time.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Ambreen Haider said...

What you're facing right now, I can understand. we watched teh same happen with EP back in 2003. how teh album released. how the videos made their way to screens etc. same story

everyone forgets they were part of that league. there might be someone with some sense but really? hardly ever.

no. they wont. not until you'll be seen at all the right places with all the right people. and thats when the buck kicks in (literally)

for the variation in sound: i was never fond of your music. though i do opine there are some really ear-catchign (well. you get the drift) instances. trying out things: will bring out the potential you guys possess. and you guys possess a lot of potential. just need to let it come out less loud and more experimental. you guys have a trace of indie somewhere. bring it out!

the real opportunities strike when someone promotes you guys. back in the day there was the saviour called M Live. today. i guess its T2F but there needs to be greater promotion.

didnt the Zeb and Haniya concerts help?

10:39 PM  

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