The music industry of Pakistan is on the verge of another revolution, and this may be the biggest yet. But, it's not because of another groundbreaking pop icon. No, it is the formation of AMPP, that is, the Association of Music Professionals of Pakistan. Spearheaded by Ali Azmat, Tina Sani, Haroon and Irfan Kiani, the association aims to "protect, promote and develop" musicians in Pakistan and plans to take action against infringements of any copyrights of an artist under the law, among many other things. The Memorandum of Association includes bands, artists, sound engineers, recording artists, producers et al. And though signatories to it do not include each and every musician in the country, they do include all the heavyweights.
The formation of AMPP is necessary because everyone exploits the musicians of this country. They earn no royalty on record sales and neither have they ever been paid for any video that is aired. The fact is, all videos of any budget, are either paid for by the artists themselves or the cost is incurred by a sponsor and sometimes, a director puts money through his own pocket. And even though, the last few years have seen electronic media play a significant role in promotion of musicians, yet none of these channels ever pay musicians.
Furthermore, there is no legitimate record label in this country and considering the fact that the music industry is expanding with every passing moment that is just very sad.
It is a common belief that royalties for a song and/or video would go to a singer or a band. However, royalties, most often, if not always, are paid not just to band members but also to the music publisher (record label), music composer (it doesn't necessarily mean someone who is a part of any particular band) and songwriter. The percentage depends on the clauses, stated by an organization. This is the basic format that is followed globally.
If AMPP takes up this structure and adapts it according to local needs of artists, things will surely pick up for the music industry. Royalties will also compel artists to compose and write their own songs.
Right now, certain clauses in the AMPP memorandum sound a bit too ambitious, but on the bright side that reflects exactly how bright musicians perceive the future of this industry to be. Such a charter is being formed for the first time. A lot of work has to be done before AMPP bears fruit, but if the musicians manage to give Pakistan's unruly music scene a coherent structure that is beneficial to all the stakeholders in the music business, that is the music labels, the channels and of course, the music professionals themselves.
One thing is clear, the formation of AMPP and the process the body hopes to set in motion is the biggest bang in the music industry has seen yet. Instep spoke to the heavy weights that have signed on the dotted line.
AMPP is necessary now because the whole world is changing. Look at our country. Electronic media has come in in a big way and record sales are increasing. Everyone is taking advantage of us so we've formed an alliance. We're not fighting with anybody. We just want to regularize the industry and that is necessary.
We were taken by a Pakistani music channel to a show in Dubai and we were treated very badly. They treat Indian artistes so well and not us. We got talking and decided that if we value ourselves, no one will be able to do this to us. This is why AMPP was formed. We're going step by step. We're still going through the process of registering AMPP, finding support for it. That is what we are busy with right now.
I genuinely believe artists will die out if they don't get compensation for their hard work. Even if I don't agree with each and everything AMPP is setting out to do, I would like to make my voice heard in it. I honestly believe that they need to negotiate and form a basic structure that works in protecting the rights of Pakistani musicians.
We have signed on and we are fully on board with AMPP. I believe that such an association is important not only to discuss problems but also to promote the industry as a whole. This will be a forum where all the musicians can sit down and talk about the good things, then go into the issues and see what steps can be taken. It is simple economics. One would think that let's do this or that but once you actually get into the books and try the formula; it's a whole other thing. It is not about one artist and his rights. That would be an individual's rights. AMPP's formation will give all the musicians a chance to fight injustice as well as promote and boost Pakistani music in the global market.
It should've happened a long time ago. But now that it's happened, I'm very happy. We can only achieve our deserving rights as musicians and creative individuals if we remain united. This is the first time, a charter of this sort is being formed in Pakistan. We are not pros at forming associations. It's going to take some time before this charter helps us accomplish all the things that we deserve. It's not an overnight miracle. It will take a certain period of time before we, as musicians, are able to accomplish our united goals through this charter.
Perhaps, it might not even help us but the future generation of musicians but it's a start. As a nation, we have always suppressed arts and cultural activities. That's the reason why all of us have been taken for a ride and there is no value of arts. The time is here that we give value to our music, only then we'll be able to respect our creative artists.
It had to happen someday. Almost all of us have been waiting for the formation of such a charter. Every country in the world has a charter where the rights of an artist are protected above anything. For example, in Scandinavia, the government allots a budget to such an organization/charter through which artists are promoted all over. If they see a person as talented, they ask him to come in, record, produce videos and send him on a world tour. Now, that such a charter is being formed here, things are looking up. But you also have to realize that getting fifty artists to sign on a piece of paper in itself will not do anything. If all fifty artists get together and then decide to create awareness for the record labels and music channels and say that this is how it's done worldwide, only then will something happen. Also, some of our top artists are quite busy with tours, gigs and more. They should have a representative at every meeting because not everyone will be able to attend these meetings every time.
I'm one of the founding members. This is the right time. It is not about one artist. Look at it this way, there is one event that's being recorded for television and you have all your huge artists performing but nobody is paying them. It's sad. The videos that Fuzon makes or Faakhir or Ali Azmat – they are of huge budgets but no one is supporting them. With this charter, we are not only looking to protect the already established artists but also the youth, the future musicians of Pakistan. We have meetings at Haroon's place or Ali's (Azmat). We're constantly in touch and converse all the time. It's a whole process but we're working on it. But I'm glad that this is finally happening.
It was long overdue. It is revolutionary. A lot of things will come and go. This charter is in the initial stages. Things are happening and they will continue at their own pace. One cannot say that all the musicians are 'united united'. Nowhere in the world does it ever happen like that. What is going on right now is that musicians are submitting to a platform where they can work together because now everyone is becoming a part of an industry. It is an industry and this charter will give the music industry a great platform.
I haven't been approached by anyone. I have been away for a while. But yeah, I would definitely like to be a part of it. I mean, as a musician, everyone expects you to perform for free, put music out there for free and considering the fact that I come from a normal background, it's not easy. If AMPP is about protecting the rights of musicians, then I'm up for it. But let's see what happens. It's too soon to say how much or what they'll be able to achieve but a step like this is good and will hopefully take us in the right direction.
I think AMPP is the right step. I am not too sure about what the main goals are but the fact that so many musicians and artists are coming together says that now we are ready to unite and come together for collective benefit of the music industry.
Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan
A council of this sort should've been formed by our ancestors years ago. Unfortunately, due to their own reasons and issues, it never happened. But now that it has, I'm one hundred percent on board. Channels don't pay any artist any amount even though they can afford it. And not just your small artists or newcomers, no one is paid, not for making the videos or when they are aired et al. There are many other things that have to be considered and with the formation of this council, we just might be able to do something for ourselves and for the future of other artists.
Hadiqa has signed on. This association has a lot of thought put behind it. People who have been working as musicians for years such as Sajjad Ali, Ali Azmat, Rohail Hyatt, Hadiqa and relatively new artists such as Fuzon, Noori – have all signed on. It is a forum where we can discuss musical trends, international festivals, issues and more. It's not something new that we're doing. Associations of this sort exist all over the world. We plan to adapt to it according to our own needs. Pakistan is among the top ten pirating countries in the world. How can we justify it? Right now, it is not an industry because we don't have a single legitimate record label. We did have EMI International but again, because of piracy, they left. We don't have a single auditorium where an acoustic performance by any artist can take place of an international standard. So, it's not just about getting royalties from local channels but about everything else that shouldn't be the way it is.
AMPP represents 80 percent of our population. Some listen to Abrar or Jawad, some like Noori or Fuzon, some like Hadiqa and there is also that EP generation. So, it's not for one person. It's a collective effort to promote Pakistani music on an international standard as well as protecting rights of all artists. We even plan to talk to the Education Ministry to put music in the syllabus. Certain private schools offer courses in music; why not make it for everyone? Music plays a major role in entertainment. A show on Halat–e–Hazara will require music in the beginning and when credits roll in the end. Our music has always been strong in all genres: classic greats like Bade Ghulam Ali, Salamat Ali Khan, folk singer like Abida Parveen, world famous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Now, there is a buzz that MTV will come to Pakistan as MTV Pakistan. This is the right time and it is only through this platform that we will be able to make a difference.
I think this is a great step that Ali has taken. I have signed on and I fully support it. AMPP is a step in the right direction. It should have been done a long time. It will benefit the industry as a whole.