Friday, September 17, 2010

Music Channels need to end.

Hello loyal blog followers, I trust that all 15 of you have been keeping well? So I was on a break for the last month, travelling and then chilling out on Eid. Obviously a lots happened in the country since then which I've already addressed here in my column for the Express Tribune. But being away from Pakistan allowed me to gain some perspective on a whole bunch of things regarding the industry I'm in. So here, in my most self-important and pompous bit of writing yet, I tell you why our music channels need to stop existing.

Watching our local music channels on TV makes me want to find a blunt object and pay someone to slowly beat me to death with it. First of all, you can't call them music channels at all, at best their shows can be described as "time spent between advertisements". Now for everyone who's going to parrot back at me and say "they have to make money somehow yaar" that is no excuse for the mind numbingly stupid programming they have. Radio stations make it work all the time. Just because advertisements are a revenue stream it doesn't mean you can't manage them within quality programming.

To be fair, I know a lot of good, intelligent kids who genuinely wanted to work for music channels. They had visions of interviewing new and exciting bands, talking and promoting music, being innovative and having the chance to really entertain people with our own homegrown talent. Not one of them stuck around for more than a year. In fact as a general rule, they all left waving one middle finger in the air and having one index finger pointing to their balls. (not on the same hand, that's tricky to do...but not impossible..just saying). Nobody can deal with the incompetence and the sheer cynicism shown by the people at the top of the management.

Nobody else in the world is sticking with the same VJ format. VJ's are a thing of the past. No other music channels in the world have them. The typical formula here seems to be to pair a fresh faced, pretty 20 something girl with some obnoxious douchebag guy who is supposed to be streetwise and uses the word "tight" to describe something he finds appealing. I really feel for these kids. I know a lot of VJ's personally and most of them are nice people, smart and intelligent and they have a lot to offer. I've also heard directors barking orders at them telling them how to act so that the 'masses' will appreciate them. So the girls become stupider and the guys become more obnoxious. There is a strong sense of resentment against anything considered "Western" or intellectual or foreign or burger mostly because of the complexes of the directors working there.Eventually any sort of creativity or individuality that these kids would bring to a TV show is wiped clean and what we have is a parade of zombies on television who desperately pinball between different tv channels in the hopes that things will be different but they never are.

Bands are still chasing the dream out there. There's a few poor sods out there who are still investing their life's savings into recording that one killer song with the awesome video shot on 35mm. I truly feel sorry for these guys because they're relying on television channels to make them successful, which is the equivalent of taking a picture of a lump of your shit, putting it on TV and then expecting people to know that it is in fact your lump of shit.
TV channels will play your video for a week and then retire it. Heck they'll probably lose it. I wouldn't be surprised if they took your video out of the system after a week, gave it to one of the brain-damaged engineers working there who uses it to wipe his ass while singing the first verse of "Khamaj".
I recently went to a TV channel for an interview and they asked me what video of ADP's should they play. I told them to play "Nazar". They said they didn't have it. I told them that was impossible considering that it had already run a whole bunch of times when it was released and that I had personally delivered the video to them myself. To which they replied "The system was cleared out, so we lost most of the videos before 2006". I told them 'Nazar' came out in 2008. And I also pointed out that they were playing a song by Faakhir that came out in 2003.  They didn't even bother apologizing. They just remained silent while, I kid you not, I pointed and loudly laughed at them calling them out on how they were blatantly lying to me.

TV channels aren't even trying. A lot of apologists are going to come back at me saying they don't have budgets. If you don't have a budget then please exit the market. Please close up shop. Cut your losses and end. But the black cynicism prevailing through every single one of these channels is that "we'll just put Bollywood Songs on television. "The 'masses' love them jhankaar beats! Oh and we get to show indian actresses half-naked and defying gravity with hips and nips, they'll love it.". What you're seeing is an insult to your intelligence. What music channel producers are saying is that you are too stupid and too horny to deserve any better.


Our 'masses' deserve better. They deserve intelligent, smart programming. They deserve to know about upcoming bands. They deserve to see live concerts with great sound recording, shot by professional directors rather than three dudes with cameras. They deserve to see profiles, reports and news about our mainstream artists, what they're upto and what they plan to do. They deserve to see hot girls doing something more than just coming on screen being shot from the waist up taking calls from semi-retarded people and simply telling you when they're going to break for ads. They deserve to see something special on Eid rather the hellish "Eid Lounges" year after fucking year asking the same questions. More than anything our public deserves to watch and listen to Pakistani music videos and judge for themselves, develop their own taste and have a fucking clue about the music scene today. Don't for one bit buy the myth that TV channels are simply giving people what they want. People want to hear music, and they want to hear good Pakistani music, so blaming Bollywood for being so darn sexy that you can't play anything else is insulting to everyone involved.

I probably wouldn't have written this piece 3 years ago when I too was one of those desperately struggling bands offering to whore myself just so you could play my music video. I realize with this post I might be burning a lot of bridges. But for once I dont find myself caring. We've already been banned by one music channel and you know what, no one even fucking knew about it. Because the incredible thing that has happened is that within the last year or so, the TV channels are now finding themselves increasingly irrelevant as the Internet is becoming THE place to find out about the latest Pakistani music. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a website like KoolMuzone. These kids are true blue Pakistani music fans and they will promote everyone from indie bands to big mainstream artists. It's the most exciting thing I've seen for the music scene in a long long time. Fans can access the complete videography of their favourite artists, they get updated with the latest news, they get links to the latest articles anyones writing about the scene and its a fantastic resource for them to give their feedback directly to the artist. The best thing about them is that if you like a song after seeing its video, you can just download it, right there and then. To me, that's what music videos are supposed to be about, THE MUSIC. The visuals should always be secondary.
In short, websites like KoolMuzone, PakMusic and Pakium are doing everything music channels should be, except they're doing it faster and better. They are the true future of our music scene. I think the next step would be for them to start having their own hosts, and their own online shows that would give talented actors and personalities a chance to operate outside the bounds of the staid television mores and that's what has me really excited.

So if you're a band out there, don't spend your scarce resources on making a wildly expensive music videos and chasing TV channel execs. Expensive music videos out there are already becoming obsolete. If your music is good and you kick ass as a live performer, I promise people will notice you. Spend your time putting your videos online, building a website, maintaining a happening facebook page and having an online presence on Pakistani music websites. It's the way to go and the smart ones out there are already recognising it.

25 Comments:

Blogger Roshni said...

you tell 'em!
Hope you had a good Eid y0!

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Maria Shamail Kazmi said...

This is awesome! I completely agree with everything. :D

7:29 PM  
Blogger Nikki. said...

I remember a talent hunt organised by a Local Music Channel to Find the Best VJ, and one of their tasks was meant to DANCE infront of a 2-3k audience. Now what the guys did to impress the audience was far beyond interesting and what the girls did was way below the line of ethics *Face palms*. Considering the fact they needed them to DANCE to evaluate if they were KOOL Enough to become a VJ, is outside my intellectual caliber.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous aerialmeds said...

"Radio stations make it work all the time"
Radio? OUR Radio Stations?



What about the established VJs, OBA? Are Anushay, Dino, Faizan etc. still caught up in the mess or do they finally have their say in things? Because last time I checked, perhaps a year or two ago, they were STILL on the same old tv channel they were on back in 2000/2001, despite several other music channels having opened up by now. One would think that by being loyal and sticking around for so long, they'd have moved up the hierarchy.



Are you serious about channels NOT giving people what they want? Why would the channels NOT give them exactly what they want, since it would make more profit for them? The channels must already be giving the people, the TV-watching people, what they want.



Lastly, you're right about music websites covering the local scene, but they really need to up the ante. I mean, trash articles like this (http://www.koolmuzone.com/2010/08/entity-paradigm-ep-shor-macha-audiovideo-review/) (a 'review') can really tick you off.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous aerialmeds said...

It'd be amazing if any show on the same level as On The Fringe emerges soon.... :/

8:16 PM  
Blogger uikhan said...

One of your 15 followers is doing very well, thank you. I absolutely agree with you on every point. I have been abroad for 2 years now, and when i left Pakistan, i was really disappointed with the music scene because the music channels were my only source of new Pakistani music. And then I came here, and had no choice but to look for new music on the internet, and that's when I realized how kickass our music scene has always been! Cheers and keep up the good work!

9:03 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

You are so right here!i completely agree with you!

everytime i see one,theres some moronic indian song playing on it!Every single of them...hardly ever catch a pakistani video on them.
And the only ones they do give regular airplay are those sponsered by big arsed multinational companies!!!
And its not like pakistani musicians arent making good videos.But looking at our music channels you wouldnt even know if there ARE any pakistani musicians.

I dont know why they heck are they on tv if they cant even promote their own countrys music...its either bollywood crap on it or yak yak yak by vjs!!!!

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just couldn't agree more Omar !
I, myself have seen the industry from inside and have a complete picture on how things actually work for TV channels and Radio stations.

New talent and music should be promoted, not making it happen is like you are killing the new generation with obsolete music !

I'm soon joining a radio station, My concept would definitely be similar to your perception.

I appreciate your music and really admire your efforts.

(Another year and then you'd be happy, just one more year and then you'd be happy, but your crying, your crying now....)

Cheers mate.
Xeeshan Shouket

2:51 AM  
Anonymous SadSid said...

Here's the thing , the music channels are part of channel combo of each media group who mainly own a news channel. Now here's the f*cked up part: when media planners/media execs of channels go these MNCs they say okay here are 10 minutes of airtime on the news channels & 50 minutes FREE airtime on our music channel. so basically all the ads u see on these music channels are the media groups lame attempt at fulfiling promises made to sponsors.

Corporate sponsors/ad givers are stupid people. Howzzit that they keep missing out that 60% of Pakistan's population is youth. Enough has been said about coke studio , what the hell is Pepsi , banks, telecos , Ceralac making companies doing. actually I do know what they are doin - they are looking for sure-shot success stories. No wait if that were the case then Shiraz Uppal who made to 03 indian movies wud be in a mobilink ad. So corporates are duds & as an insider let me tell you , its fossils who control the mktg budgets so unless they drop dead, there's no hope.

the only VJ who actually has control over a music channel is Mathira. & we all know why. but we are tuning in not for the songs but for the entertainment she provides.

Another thing , when upcoming bands do beg/borrow/steal to make a video they are all praying that Mahesh Bhatt notices their song. Thats what most boy bands are hoping for - one chance to Bollywood and then Katrina and they can be together. So really the objectives are screwed to begin with. I didnt know that Nazar had a video but lets face it Imran hasmhi aint gonna be serenading to that song & music channel owner who has seen your VDO knows that.

Understand something else - when a band who from Fedral B. Area belts out their own rock rendition of Hasan Jahnagirs' Hawa Hawa song & then posts online on Koolmusic etc. thats when you will actually know that the music scene is no longer limited to the music channels.

Face it , its the urban yuppie bappie burgers who have found the online avenue , not the chholays and bunkababs . Case in point - the Cheapmunks. So yes the internet is good news for music bands but still along way to go.

On a lighter note with some mktg advice for you - try getting the attention of Fashion week Pakistan , ask them to let you guys do some numbers during their shows. They are the only ones who have money rite now & would be willing to support upcoming Pakistani music. Plus you get to see hot chicks with nice legs and who knows you mite end up with a better wardrobe & decent haircut , Lords knows you need it.

Cheers

3:38 AM  
Anonymous SadSid said...

Here's the thing , the music channels are part of channel combo of each media group who mainly own a news channel. Now here's the f*cked up part: when media planners/media execs of channels go these MNCs they say okay here are 10 minutes of airtime on the news channels & 50 minutes FREE airtime on our music channel. so basically all the ads u see on these music channels are the media groups lame attempt at fulfiling promises made to sponsors.

Corporate sponsors/ad givers are stupid people. Howzzit that they keep missing out that 60% of Pakistan's population is youth. Enough has been said about coke studio , what the hell is Pepsi , banks, telecos , Ceralac making companies doing. actually I do know what they are doin - they are looking for sure-shot success stories. No wait if that were the case then Shiraz Uppal who made to 03 indian movies wud be in a mobilink ad. So corporates are duds & as an insider let me tell you , its fossils who control the mktg budgets so unless they drop dead, there's no hope.

the only VJ who actually has control over a music channel is Mathira. & we all know why. but we are tuning in not for the songs but for the entertainment she provides.

Another thing , when upcoming bands do beg/borrow/steal to make a video they are all praying that Mahesh Bhatt notices their song. Thats what most boy bands are hoping for - one chance to Bollywood and then Katrina and they can be together. So really the objectives are screwed to begin with. I didnt know that Nazar had a video but lets face it Imran hasmhi aint gonna be serenading to that song & music channel owner who has seen your VDO knows that.

Understand something else - when a band who from Fedral B. Area belts out their own rock rendition of Hasan Jahnagirs' Hawa Hawa song & then posts online on Koolmusic etc. thats when you will actually know that the music scene is no longer limited to the music channels.

Face it , its the urban yuppie bappie burgers who have found the online avenue , not the chholays and bunkababs . Case in point - the Cheapmunks. So yes the internet is good news for music bands but still along way to go.

On a lighter note with some mktg advice for you - try getting the attention of Fashion week Pakistan , ask them to let you guys do some numbers during their shows. They are the only ones who have money rite now & would be willing to support upcoming Pakistani music. Plus you get to see hot chicks with nice legs and who knows you mite end up with a better wardrobe & decent haircut , Lords knows you need it.

Cheers

3:38 AM  
Anonymous SadSid said...

Part 1:
Here's the thing , the music channels are part of channel combo of each media group who mainly own a news channel. Now here's the f*cked up part: when media planners/media execs of channels go these MNCs they say okay here are 10 minutes of airtime on the news channels & 50 minutes FREE airtime on our music channel. so basically all the ads u see on these music channels are the media groups lame attempt at fulfiling promises made to sponsors.

Corporate sponsors/ad givers are stupid people. Howzzit that they keep missing out that 60% of Pakistan's population is youth. Enough has been said about coke studio , what the hell is Pepsi , banks, telecos , Ceralac making companies doing. actually I do know what they are doin - they are looking for sure-shot success stories. No wait if that were the case then Shiraz Uppal who made to 03 indian movies wud be in a mobilink ad. So corporates are duds & as an insider let me tell you , its fossils who control the mktg budgets so unless they drop dead, there's no hope.

3:40 AM  
Anonymous SadSid said...

Part 2:
the only VJ who actually has control over a music channel is Mathira. & we all know why. but we are tuning in not for the songs but for the entertainment she provides.

Another thing , when upcoming bands do beg/borrow/steal to make a video they are all praying that Mahesh Bhatt notices their song. Thats what most boy bands are hoping for - one chance to Bollywood and then Katrina and they can be together. So really the objectives are screwed to begin with. I didnt know that Nazar had a video but lets face it Imran hasmhi aint gonna be serenading to that song & music channel owner who has seen your VDO knows that.

Understand something else - when a band who from Fedral B. Area belts out their own rock rendition of Hasan Jahnagirs' Hawa Hawa song & then posts online on Koolmusic etc. thats when you will actually know that the music scene is no longer limited to the music channels.

Face it , its the urban yuppie bappie burgers who have found the online avenue , not the chholays and bunkababs . Case in point - the Cheapmunks. So yes the internet is good news for music bands but still along way to go.

3:41 AM  
Anonymous SadSid said...

Part3:
On a lighter note with some mktg advice for you - try getting the attention of Fashion week Pakistan , ask them to let you guys do some numbers during their shows. They are the only ones who have money rite now & would be willing to support upcoming Pakistani music. Plus you get to see hot chicks with nice legs and who knows you mite end up with a better wardrobe & decent haircut , Lords knows you need it.

Cheers

3:42 AM  
Blogger Know Your Skills said...

3 words:

THIS WAS AWESOME!

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Danish Mughal said...

Thanks for mentioning the name of our website pakium.com . You have clearly announced the demise of "music Channels" in Pakistan. I do agree with you on this, but not completely.

This post helped me learn a couple of things. Thanks again for throwing the ball towards us (Music websites). It gives now a sense of responsibility & motivation to us. You will soon hopefully see the more positive changes on pakium as I want to play now on FRONT FOOT. :p

One thing more I would like to mention here that out of 10 bands that submit their track to us , 6-7 are always Crap. So I believe the cheap musicians are still using the Online Medium & Music Websites the most. While those who have good music , are still relying on music channels.

The only Big Advantage that Music channels have, is MASS MEDIA & VIEWERSHIP and that can't be challenged until the Half of Pakistan start using "INTERNET" that too for "MUSIC" :)

Keep Rocking

- Danish Mughal

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Naeem Akram said...

remember good old days of FM 100 (2000-2003) nobdy knew much abt Pakistani bands before FM 100... Sumthng similar is needed on TV... A chanl where ads cme second, rock n roll first...
and boss your writing is captivating, but the format (white on black bg) bytes... can u plz think sumthing dfrnt, more easy on eyz?

11:54 PM  
Blogger HinaSangi said...

Read every word and realized thats exactly the reason why I stopped watching music channels a long time ago, I definitely needed someone to tell me because frankly, I didn't care and could never pinpoint exactly what the reason was. Your piece is right on spot! I have always loved music and have loved knowing my Pakistani music specially. To be honest, I think television has become nothing more than either scripted, obnoxious reality shows or live battles between politicians on news channels. Glad we have a better platform now to interact, to know our music and enjoy it without the TV as a medium in between.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous hina nasir said...

felt good after reading this blog.. i feel the same for my pakistani music.. i love it, want to listen every pakistani song.. but our tv channels are disgusting.. playing the bollywood 90s and 80s .. hate it.. hate every channel for this.. keep up your music.. its awsum..

6:23 PM  
Anonymous moeen ahmed said...

wow its quite goood !

6:38 PM  
Anonymous SadafFayyaz said...

Well, quite a mature piece and serious as well...I remember vjs of 90s sounded better to me...and websites like KM and PMR are more well informed on music and news.....BTW, I have stoppedwatching music channels and morning shows just bcz of brainless and Vjs anchors..KM keeps me updated and the two boys are doing wonderful job.....

2:58 PM  
Blogger HIK said...

I swear! The female VJs are utter bimbos. And the phone calls they receive, "aap bohot achi lag rahi hain. aap key kapray bohot achay hain bla bla"

And the choice of our masses is just unbelievable.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Quizman said...

Re Bollywood - I think the problem is of a greater magnitude in India. Indie bands rarely get a look-in regardless of their talent since Bollywood is so dominating. A few bands and solo performers have basically broken through the ceiling to make a success from their non-filmi albums but not many have been able to sustain past 2 or max 3 albums. (I'm limiting the sample size to the Hindi language. It gets worse for other languages).

And therein lies the dichotomy. Other than die-hard music fans, the 'masses' who purchase albums have short attention spans and their 'spare time' is a huge resource constraint. So, it is highly likely that they're sitting at the dinner table (or performing chores) while the tv is tuned to a random music channel and they just happen to catch a good song.

One way to beat this, as you rightly suggested, is to engage the social networking sites to drive a 'viral' buzz about your work. When the song becomes mainstream amongst the internet-aware audience, it it highly likely that by a process of osmosis, it can reach those who do not have access to the internet.

But it is hard work. I think if you have something unique to offer and show utter honesty, you will creative a viral buzz. A case in point, the wildly successful SF duo Pomplamoose. See their youtube home-made videos here. They created such a buzz on the 'net that even mainstream journalists and columnists (incl Time, Vanity Fair, Atlantic et al) have written about them.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Quizman said...

Omar,

As if on cue, see this related discussion by rapper Chamillionaire on techcrunch and venturebeat.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous rashid1891 said...

this is good site
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2:22 PM  
Anonymous rashid1891 said...

It'd be amazing if any show on the same level as On The Fringe emerges soon.... :/

4:07 PM  

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