• 06 May - 12 May, 2017
  • Mariam Khan
  • Feature

Stepping into the zone of chords and notes, an unorthodox tang hits the soul. The venture that has a feline mascot has a few “meows” ricocheting from the walls. But an ardent buff of the creature will face disappointment immediately on finding out the source of the sound. Instead of the four-legged furry creature, it’s a walking talking two-legged member of the “treasure chest” – the cheat explanation when introducing Patari is that “it’s a Pakistani Spotify”. A digital music service, Patari, will play on your command and mood any pop, rock, sufi and you-name-it Pakistani song. “We wanted a desi name that represented not only us but our content too. So the word “Patari” came to mind. It basically means a “treasure chest”, and it is also the box of a snake charmer in which he keeps his snakes,” Khalid Bajwa, the CEO, sheds light on the roots of the start-up’s name. “For us, Patari is a treasure chest that holds something very important to us – Pakistani Music.”

Founding fathers lay the first stone

“The initial idea was to create a Hulu like website for Pakistan’s audience because the ban on YouTube had created a space for another video streaming platform,” Humayun Haroon, the co-founder of the platform says. The brains behind the start-up include Haroon, Khalid Bajwa, Iqbal Talat Bhatti and Faisal. “Faisal kept insisting that there is a space in the Pakistani market for a music platform and was adamant to go for an audio platform,” the co-founder elaborates. “It were Bajwa, Haroon and Bhatti who reached out to many TV channels requesting copyrights of their content but it didn’t work out as well as they thought,” Ahmer Naqvi, the COO marks out. It was after turning over many stones did the quartet decide to give a heads-up to the idea of a music platform. To roll the idea to centre stage, the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute alumni, Haroon, Bajwa and Bhatti, designed the site and applications along with a team to formulate a proper working system.

Bringing forward unsung heroes

What started as a knock on the door resulted in a metamorphosis of a few lives. Patari Tabeer is a venture which brings together unheard voices and pairs them with fine producers to create songs. “It was opportunity in the form of Nazar Gill on the door of Naqvi. A house cleaner with a talent of singing asked Naqvi to listen to his song and that event set the path for Patari Tabeer. The idea of merging hidden talent with famous music producers gave us Patari Tabeer, the dream of many people coming true,” mentions Haroon. The audience gets to see the final product but bringing up such stars takes “a lot of effort”. “We are being completely honest. You have to take special care of these stars because a lot of fame comes at them like a bullet train and not everyone is made to handle the fame,” Naqvi candidly remarks, adding, “Patari is their primary agent. We take care of their bookings, contracts, lifestyles to keep up the standard of stardom that Patari Tabeer has brought with them.” In the case of Gill, he showed up at Naqvi’s apartment door, what about the rest? “A lot of luck and persistence went in to collect these gems. Then some were recommended to us by music producers, while some were found after their videos went viral on the internet. So six artistes, six different ways and one sheer stroke of luck is what churned out these priceless gems.”

Traversing through the stumbling blocks

“With about 15 members currently, out of which nine work from Lahore, while the remaining six are spread all across the world, it was not easy-peasy to set up the groundwork for the platform,” Haroon says. Like any other start-up in Pakistan, Patari also faced its fair share of problems. “Pakistani market is very unkind to the start-ups so one has to be very thick-skinned to make it through. It took almost nine months to get the label Patari registered with Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP),” adds Bajwa. Once the initiation took place, the founders had another massive piece of business to take care of – the collection and curation of music. “It was a gargantuan task, which required a lot of patience and perseverance, as the team ensured that not only were the compilations comprehensive, but also legally covered,” remarks Naqvi.

Combating privacy

Not following the conventional hierarchy apparatus, “each member is an equal part of every project” and this itself has helped Patari grow a lot. “As each member is emotionally invested, they treat Patari as their own brainchild, and the result of this oneness has added firmness to the brick and mortar that helps Patari shine through,” Naqvi mentions the formula to their secret of success, while further stating, “the sense of belonging inspires each of us to do more which drives the team to success.” With so many means available to the public to listen to music on online portals, has Patari helped in fighting privacy? The team surely has an affirmative standpoint on it. “Yes, through Patari privacy of labels are being set straight. Nothing on Patari is featured without the artistes’ consent. We have also introduced an Offline Player where you can save songs and listen to them without the availability of internet so instead of downloading music illegally and filling up space in the device, offline player encourages using licensed content preventing illegal downloads,” Bajwa points out. Patari’s revenue is generated through some top-notch brand campaigns, along with making custom playlists for clients. In return, the artistes benefit, as Bajwa shares, “They get royalties from whatever revenue we generate. We also market their content which helps them reach out to new audiences.” As for all those budding artistes who are looking for a platform, and wish to feature work, can do so, as Naqvi remarks, “We have a proper Artist Liaison Unit that reaches out to the artistes but if the artiste wants to reach out to us, they can approach us through our social media accounts or send us an email.”

Coming times

The creative house that sits in the music enclave, has surprises in store for their listeners. “We have Aslis 2 and Tabeer 2 lined up along with few other surprises that our users are definitely going to love. The aim is to make music bigger and pop culture more relevant and bridge the gap between the Pakistani community and Pakistani music,” Haroon marks out. As for the meows will they be spreading their paws in other cities too? “Since we are a digital entity, it doesn’t really matter where we are based. We have collaborated and helped in event management all across Pakistan so one office at the moment is enough,” Bajwa says.