There was once a time when rock-stars would decline offers to endorse food or beverage brands, deeming the move too ‘uncool’ for the hardcore image that they boast. However, pursuing a career in music is not feasible in Pakistan. To make a living, you have to either endorse fizzy drinks and ice cream companies that back music projects or live with being a one-hit wonder.
This trend of a brand sponsoring a music project was started by Coke Studio — now five seasons old — which received an incredible response. It provided an alternate business model for musicians altogether, as big names like Pepsi and Wall’s have now also joined the league of brands supporting the Pakistani music industry.
This year, Pepsi unveiled their music show Pepsi Smash, which features 10 songs sung by different artistes. The popularity of each song will be gauged by its virality, both over television and social media. Farhad Humayun of Overload is the producer of the show, while Faisal Baig and Sheraz Siddiq are the music producers.
With an interesting line-up, the show which is being aired from Lahore after Nescafé Basement, looks promising and is expected to strike a different chord, in terms of music production. Their second session featuring Strings’ song Jeevan is already spreading like wildfire. The show features Symt, Noori, Strings, Siege, Sajid and Zeeshan and Jarar Malik, with Ali Asad and Hussain Ali Shah making their debut.
Apart from that, Cornetto Music Icons, a project by Wall’s, is expected to be Pakistan’s biggest talent hunt show. Led by music producer Shahi Hasan, the show features six musicians from stalwarts like Alamgir to newbies like Zoe Viccaji. The show, which has a logo that seems to resemble the Looney Tunes’ logo, has been promoted through billboards across the country which feature singers dressed in popsicle colours. However, all of this does not downplay the fact that they managed to discover some really good talent in their second episode, that aired last Sunday.
Another relatively naïve attempt to give young talent a platform to showcase their skills, was Ufone Uth Records with Omran Shafique (Momo) and Louis J Pinto (Gumby), which nosedived in season two when Shafique exited the show. Season two was not able to garner as much eyeballs as season one because the show was being produced single-handedly by Gumby.
With five months of the year gone, there is no sign of a third season of Uth Records. Sources say that Ufone has made the curtain call for the show, however, nothing is offcial. Gumby left Coke Studio to launch Uth Records and it failed. Quite similarly, after doing one season of Coke Studio, Humayun is now producing his own music show. Here’s hoping that the jinx attached to the whole act of Coke Studio drummers producing their own shows does not act up.
Even seasoned musicians such as ex-Junoon member Salman Ahmed and Aamir Zaki are associated with one thing or another. For musicians, it is now a matter of survival. Record labels have an inconsequential presence and there is hardly any airtime for Pakistani music; coupled with the ban on YouTube, it is ventures like these that give musicians opportunities to showcase their music and eventually go on tours to make money.
Pakistan has the potential to do 20 more shows like this. It is important that brands give a chance to new faces, or it won’t take much time for the shows to become monotonous!