The music industry — a lonesome rider against foreign competition

It appears as if the floodgates have been opened for foreign entertainment and news channels. The last couple of years have seen an invasion by cable channels, which can be seen wherever you go, from restaurants and homes to shops. This is all part of the phenomenon called ‘globalisation’. Pakistani viewers, noticeably, are losing interest in local channels because of the glitz and glamor of the foreign media. It is easy to see that the majority of images beaming out of television sets are of foreign films and shows. Viewers countrywide prefer Indian music, films and Hollywood flicks and this has resulted in the local channels being relegated to the background.

Well, out of all the Pakistani music, drama and film channels, only the music channels have emerged as competition for these foreign channels. Channels like PTV, HUM TV and INDUS TV are fighting hard to hold on to the dwindling number of their viewers, who are now more interested in soaps on Star Plus and reruns of Friends on Star TV. Well, as far as the local film channels are concerned, our film industry has never been able to compete against Bollywood and Hollywood and the expectancy has never been that high from Pakistani films. Film channels, as expected, are anything but on a rise because the number of cinema goers in the country continues to decrease by the day and most of them now watch cable channels.

However, Pakistani music channels are not only fighting off competition from abroad, but actually winning new audiences day by day. Today, because of these music channels, local bands and singers like Atif, Jal, Noori and Junoon are more popular than any foreign band or singer. The concerts of these artists and bands are well attended and their albums gross well because their videos are shown on local music channels. The loyal viewers of these channels are helping pop musicians win the war and push out western and Indian music.

The music industry has come a long way in a very short span of time (considering the fact that six years ago there were no music channels). Today, it is a complete industry with local music channels dedicated to bringing forward Pakistani talent and the channels’ websites helping expose several local bands and artists doing various genres of music from rock to classical. A testament to the music channels’ evolution is the type of colorful graphics and programming.

Vast audiences from India, Canada and North America watch two of the leading music channels of Pakistan, Indus Music and The Musik. These days, the most requested videos on several Indian channels are those of Pakistani artists. This is a great sign, which shows that the country’s music channels are all doing well internationally against music channel like Mtv and VH1.

These channels have promoted pop music so well that channels like HUM TV and Geo TV now air Pakistani artists’ music videos during prime time viewing. This clearly shows a change in the trend of viewing, which has now shifted from dramas and sitcoms to music videos. The rise of music as a viably commercial pursuit of art has given Pakistani talent an avenue towards which they can direct their energies. With a non-existent film industry, the Pakistani youth can now express themselves through music videos. At the moment, young music directors are producing visually stunning work.

A good example is the video of Ali Azmat’s new song ‘na re na’, shot by young director Saqib Malik. The colors, images and texture of the video are a treat to watch. Offbeat and different; yes, but progressive and new. Add to this, the video of Jal’s ‘teri yaad’, aesthetically shot against the background of a local circus and the new creative animated video by Zeeshan and Ghafoor (the duo from Peshawar which shot to fame with ‘king of self’) it is clear that the music channels are playing the leading role in providing quality entertainment.

Today local music channels stand out among all the private Pakistani channels. With witty and educated presenters and colorful sets, Indus Music , The Musik and G channels are fun to watch. One can proudly say that Pakistani music channels can now match foreign music channels. (The writer can be reached at [email protected])