Tuesday July 16, 2024

Spotify x Pakistan: going all in 2022

By Maheen Sabeeh
November 28, 2022

“I heard there was a secret chord/That David played and it pleased the Lord/But you don’t really care for music, do you?” - ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley

The most popular streaming app in many countries, with billions of songs in its arsenal, Spotfiy, has officially crossed more than one year in Pakistan.

When it first entered the music and pop culture market, it didn’t emerge just as an app where listeners could log in and find their favourite artists and listen to them only. By introducing a number of initiatives, the app allowed artists to shine in a global landscape.

They first introduced EQUAL Pakistan where women artists who were connected to the homeland in one way or another were highlighted.

EQUAL chose one ambassador per month, who were then featured in local and global playlists, across the app. This effort was backed by a dazzling display of said artist with a digital billboard at Times Square, NYC.

The initiative began with Arooj Aftab as the first EQUAL Pakistan ambassador. The Grammy Award winning artist was followed (in no chronological order) by the likes of Natasha Baig, Zoha Zuberi, Hadiqa Kiani, Mehak Ali, and Eva B, among others.

The newest EQUAL ambassador, for the month of November, is Natasha Noorani. As the selected artist, she is featured on a digital billboard in Times Square, NYC. And like her predecessors, Noorani is also featured in EQUAL’s global and local playlists with her last release, ‘Laiyan’ gaining moment on Spotify. The singer-songwriter, festival co-director and an ethnomusicologist is thrilled with this development.

Said Noorani: “It’s an immense honour for me to be Spotify’s EQUAL Ambassador for Pakistan. It feels like a beautiful celebration of my journey as a musician up till now and I am so excited to showcase more of my music to a larger audience. Spotify is putting in the work to create space, especially digital, that supports more female creators in Pakistan and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Apart from being an ethnomusicologist and festival co-director, Natasha Noorani has an intriguing discography with an album called Ronak in the pipeline. She is also known for her work as one-half of Biryani Brothers and very distinctive collaborations including one with Strings, one with Hasan Raheem and another with Nadir Shahzad Khan. And that’s just three. Natasha Noorani has a lot of music to offer if you make the effort and look at her debut EP and even cinematic music.

While Natasha Noorani joins a list of eclectic female artists whose work is terrific and therefore selected, another initiative by Spotify that was announced this year is called RADAR Pakistan. The first artist who was selected as part of this initiative is music’s most popular emerging name in recent years: Hasan Raheem. RADAR is a mini-series that allows the audience an in-depth insight into the artist’s life beyond the public persona. Hasan Raheem’s mini-doc was released recently and as promised, it did give the audience a chance to go beyond his singles, music videos, collaborations and concerts and learn more about the artist. In the six-minute mini doc, Hasan Raheem begins, “This is a closer look into my life. About how I started my musical journey, about my friends, about the people I work with and especially my main support, that’s my family.”

To that end, a digital billboard at Times Square, NYC featuring Hasan Raheem was also unveiled after RADAR first released the mini-doc. Here’s hoping we see more talented artists becoming a part of RADAR and EQUAL. And while we celebrate these artists, our advice is to lend an ear to their music. It really is worth celebrating.