The new YouTube for Pakistan?
The ban on YouTube in Pakistan has deprived musicians of an instant platform for flaunting their music, leaving viewers without access to the world’s biggest online entertainment portal. Farhad Humayun is now attempting to fill that void with his new website Riot Arts (RiotArts.com).
Touted as “Pakistan’s first music web channel”, Riot Arts is a service that hopes to help Pakistani musicians reconnect with their audience. “It’s a channel where both new and established artists can showcase their music and videos,” says the Overload front-man who self-funded the endeavour. “You can just upload your content while sitting at home. We have our own server and cloud space where you can upload high resolution videos. We are not hosting content on another site. It’s all on Riot Arts.”
And why is the project called Riot Arts? “Riot is my brand name and the umbrella corporation which houses Riot Productions (film plus audio and lighting design for high-end events and applications) and Riot Studios (a recording studio for bands, voiceovers, dubbing, and film scoring). We are expanding into showcasing more talent and are developing original content. Plus the word ‘arts’ represents more than just music. Hence, Riot Arts,” Farhad explains.
Establishing the platform wasn’t easy, but the musician thinks this project is well worth the effort. “(The website) was hard to set up because a person like myself had to take out time to organize all of this. I believe ‘if you build it, they will come’. We’re at a very basic and
preliminary stage but this summer we plan on marketing this full throttle and putting out great content. I’m certain we will get all the attention and be regarded as the authentic place for a feel of a progressive and modern Pakistan.”
Now that the website is up and running, Riot Arts is hoping to attract both content creators and consumers to its folds. It also aims to be a haven for artists who are being ignored by the mainstream media, while potentially giving them global exposure. “It’s
common knowledge that TV channels and radio stations hardly have a one hour slot for Pakistani content. I want to develop a community of musicians and creative people who can say what they want, the way they want to,” he elaborates. “I also want to establish a destination for people all over the world who want to see and hear Pakistani music and want to buy it. Someone sitting in South America or Australia or anywhere remote doesn’t know what to search for on YouTube if he wants Pakistani music. I want him to know that Riot Arts is the place and in due time we will get there. We are setting up an online shop too.”
The project will also help deserving artists, who have limited financial resources, by giving them a chance to display their potential. “I aim to create more original content at Riot Studios where I’ll be recording deserving artists for free,” Farhad promises. Plus, Riot Arts aims to minimize corporate influence in the Pakistani entertainment industry.
“Last year, Pakistani corporations spent about 80 million dollars on music driven campaigns. Not even two percent of that went to the artists who made those campaigns successful,” he continues. “Riot Arts will help showcase real talent, not campaigns driven by corporations who are producing tailored music to sell a beverage or ice cream or coffee. When brands approach an artist to work on a campaign to sell their product, they also dictate their agenda and terms, and frankly they only want the numbers and results. They’re not interested in quality or merit. I believe in creating content and generating traffic first, and then inviting brands to be ‘patrons’, not sponsors.”
Within days of its launch, the website has amassed over a hundred videos, attracting content from the likes of Strings, Noori, Qayaas, Siege, Billy-X, Char Payee, Abbas Ali Khan, and, of course, Overload. “The reception so far has been very warm and encouraging, and this is just the beginning,” Farhad enthuses. “I aim to make Riot Arts the primary source for quality Pakistani music and videos.”