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YouTube makes official Pakistan entrance

Nearly two years into Spotify’s official arrival, video streaming site, YouTube announces its official arrival as well.

September 10, 2023
YouTube is the favoured site for visual content. A case in point, a still from ‘Hamari’ video by Slowspin. Cinematography by Coly Puzzuoli


f July and August were particularly happening months for audio streaming site Spotify (which we will get back to), the same can be said for YouTube, our usual choice for accessing video-based content. But, while our choice may have been the same as many other users around the world, it was never a part of the market officially until now, or to be precise, since last month.

An official press statement confirmed that the video-streaming site has launched YouTube Premium, which will be a paid membership.

What will YouTube premium offer?

It will, “amplify viewing experience on YouTube with ad-free, offline and in the background play.”

But that isn’t the only launch from YouTube. They have also launched, according to a press statement, YouTube Music, which will be a new music streaming app that offers immersive music experience, in Pakistan.

A press statement noted, “YouTube Music is a reimagined, made-for-music app and web player with official songs, albums, playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalogue of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos. With YouTube Music, users can listen to the latest hits, find songs that you love, stay connected to the music world, and discover tons of new music to enjoy on their devices. While all this is available for free in the ad-supported version of YouTube Music, users can also choose to have an ad-free music experience by joining YouTube Music Premium.”

Farhan S. Qureshi, Google’s Director for Pakistan, said, “More than 2 billion logged-in viewers watch a music video each month on YouTube globally and over 2 million creators come to share their voices with the world, I’m so happy that YouTube Premium and You-Tube Music are now available in Pakistan to provide Pakistani viewers with a new experience. In Pakistan, over 400 channels have over 1M subscribers, which is an increase of over 35%, year over year while over 6,000 channels have over 100K subscribers, an increase of over 30%, year over year.

That’s an impressive number! This makes me even more excited for YouTube to be part of this fast growth ecosystem and to continue our partnership with the Pakistani creative industry and support more Pakistani artists to grow their audience with YouTube Premium and YouTube Music.”

Looking at this development from a music-lover’s lens, this could well be the best thing to happen to video as well as music. At the moment, many of us opt for Spotify for audio streaming, either as a free service by tolerating ads, or a premium one.

Others put their music on Pakistan’s once-loved and now-disgraced Patari music streaming service. There are also those who prefer bandcamp.

What this means is that Spotify, especially because of its campaigns: Radar, Fresh Finds and Equal Pakistan, is the most popular audio streaming service.

With YouTube also getting in on the game, the monopoly of Spotify will break and it will have to work harder than ever before to keep its users happy so that they don’t sign up with YouTube music. And that will depend on payments made to artists via labels, the availability of music, rolling campaigns beyond EQUAL Pakistan and RADAR. As is, YouTube has the added advantage of video-streaming but with audio streaming plans now in place, a choice for Pakistani fans has opened up that could negatively affect potential and current users of Spotify.

Spotify has several original campaigns promoting Pakistani music including EQUAL Pakistan, where each month a woman artist, as the ambassador of the said campaign gets a digital billboard in Times Square, New York as well as getting music promoted on the audio-streaming site. A posthumous remembrance of Nazia Hassan as part of EQUAL Pakistan from August of last year.

While we are on the subject of YouTube and Spotify, one important highlight from Spotify is the anniversary of one of its campaigns called Fresh Finds. Meant to highlight budding artists, the two-year-old campaign began in 2021. According to a statement, it has, “showcased over 346” artists including the likes of Abdul Hannan and Nehal Naseem.

A change, however, is in the air.

“Independent artists are at the forefront of what’s next in music,” says Rutaba Yaqub, Senior Editor, Music for Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh. “It’s vital that we continue to help this wide-ranging group of artists be discovered, be heard, find new fans, and create space and opportunities for them to have agency over their careers, while giving them a voice in our campaigns. And this is exactly what Fresh Finds Pakistan does.

“At the end of this program we want our Fresh Finds artists to leave with a fluency in Spotify’s tools, a connection with other creators, growth across a wide range of new fans, and deeper engagement within their existing fan base.”

Noted a press statement: “The global resonance of Fresh Finds Pakistan reverberated through the success of its top-performing tracks. ‘Beqadra’ by Nehaal Naseem, ‘Sukoon’ by Hassan & Roshaan and Shae Gill, and ‘Kismat’ by HASHAM and Rovalio soared to the top three spots captivating listeners far beyond Pakistan and emerging as the most exported songs from Fresh Finds.”

It further added: “Additional chart-toppers included ‘Secrets’ by Dyslexic and Zouqan, ‘Zamanay’ by Abdul Hannan, Ali Alvi, and Shahmeer Raza Khan, and ‘Beetay Zamaney – Unplugged’ by Salman Masood.

Through Fresh Finds Pakistan, 111 artists have experienced significant career leaps, climbing the ranks after their inclusion in the playlist. This upward trajectory highlighted the playlist’s pivotal role as a catalyst for artistic growth and recognition.

Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad emerged as the top cities in terms of streams, demonstrating the highest weekly active users of Fresh Finds Pakistan and the trend is continuing this year with where Spotify amplify fresh voices, with Eifi, Nehaal Naseem, Izzchughtai, and Jawad leading this year’s artist lineup.”

Whether YouTube Music will succeed in replacing
Spotify as the music market leader, by and large, will be determined, frankly speaking, by users.

Keep watching this space for more on the music streaming giants and who ends up wrestling away the biggest piece of the musical pie.