For the YouTube-deprived audiences of music across the country, leading pop band Overload’s vocalist Farhad Humayun has come up with a solution -- an online platform for budding as well as established musicians to share and upload their works. Consequently, the listeners shall have a one-stop shop (subscription-free!) to download or stream just any music they might otherwise have to take the trouble of Googling or searching online.
The website -- www.riotarts.com -- was recently announced by Humayun in a rather informal concert setting in Gulberg, his work station in the physical space. The site, he said, would be launched within a month’s time.
The ‘announcement’ ceremony was a requirement, he said, "in order to make sure that word spreads and the musicians out there can start pitching."
It’s a self-funded project, Humayun declared, before moving on to play some of Overload’s best-known tracks for an audience of invited guests comprising some of the music luminaries such as Atif Aslam, Taimur Rehman, Ahmed Ali Butt, QB and Haroon Shahid.
"We decided to have a concert also because there are virtually no performances happening in the city. The musicians have been increasingly discouraged to hold concerts," he said.
"The ban on YouTube only made matters worse for our still-nascent music industry. Radio stations won’t play the new musicians because of a preference for Indian or English music. The TV channels have the same issue. There are no performances as a 60 percent tax has been levied on live performances."
Riot Arts, Humayun said, is "my way of responding to the ban [on YouTube] and all the limitations placed on live performances."
The website allows you to create an account, enabling even an amateur musician to upload his songs and content for the world to see. Making an account on the website is free of charge.
The website features a video and an audio player and may even open an online store to purchase songs in the future. "I am funding it personally, without any help or cooperation from an NGO or a government body," he explained.
However, if anyone wishes to sponsor it, Humayun will take up the offer as long as the sponsor’s agenda does not meddle with the website or any of its functions.
Humayun admitted that a lot of people who are in the picture say "Riot Arts is a very angrez name, the font and even the image are too angrez. I want to tell them all that this is just to give us an international look."
He acknowledged the contribution of Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement in promoting the music scene of the country but insisted he would go for "original content on the website instead of covers."
The videos and music at www.riotarts.com will be duly moderated. "They must be of a certain calibre," he said. "But we are open to all the underground bands that get adequate media coverage."
The website will also feature original recordings of Overload songs.