Coke Studio Boosts Cola's Marketshare in Pakistan

Music is aiding Coke in its fight against Pepsi in the cola wars in Pakistan. By sponsoring "Coke Studio," a local version of "MTV Unplugged", Coke has gained significant market share at Pepsi's expense, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. While Coke now claims 35% of all cola sales in Pakistan, Pepsi's market share is now down to 65% from a high of 80% in 1990s which was achieved mainly through sponsorship of cricket in Pakistan.



Coke Studio, sponsored by Coca Cola Pakistan, is a one-hour show that features musicians playing a distinct blend of fusion music that mixes traditional and modern styles. Helped by the media boom in Pakistan, the show has had dramatic success since it was launched three years ago.

A Wall Street Journal story says that Coke Studio is now carried by 27 channels, including regional Sindhi- and Pushto-language channels, where entertainment tends to be more orthodox. The show’s Facebook page has about 200,000 fans and is adding about 10,000 a week. The song “Alif Allah Chambey Di Booty” by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi that featured on Coke Studio in June has recorded 531,537 views in just over a month on YouTube. It is popular in both India and Pakistan where the netizens can’t seem to get enough of it.

Here is an except from the Wall Street Journal story on Coke Studio in Pakistan:

Coke and Pepsi's battle in Pakistan shows how some foreign companies remain committed and are expanding here even as others head for the exits because of concerns over terrorism and the country's struggling fiscal position.

Tetra Pak International SA, the Switzerland-based packaging company, is about to complete a €90 million ($116.5 million) factory in Lahore. Metro AG, the German retailer, has invested $175 million to open a string of outlets in the past two years. Adidas AG of Germany has recently ramped up orders of soccer balls from Pakistan, one of the world's largest suppliers.

Others, like U.S.-based Procter & Gamble Co. and Nestlé SA of Switzerland, continue to make healthy profits here. Nestlé, for instance, operates Asia's largest dairy-processing factory in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province.

An upsurge in terrorist suicide attacks and a balance of payments crisis, which led to an $11 billion International Monetary Fund bailout program in 2008, have scared off other businesses. Foreign direct investment in Pakistan fell 39% to $12 billion in the year to July, according to central bank figures. Still, countries like Pakistan continue to matter for consumer-goods companies because they have young populations and growing economies. The economy is set to grow over 4% this year and Pakistan regularly beats out nations in the region, including India, in the World Bank's study on ease of doing business.

Coke said sales volumes fell 2% in North America in the first quarter of 2010 but rose 11% in its Eurasia and Africa division, which includes Pakistan.

Pepsi remains bigger in some Middle East nations, where an Arab League boycott of Coke in the 1970s and 1980s—stemming from its investments in Israel—left the playing field open.

In other emerging markets like China, India and Russia, the two rivals are locked in a close race.


Nestle and Unilever, two of the leading food and drink companies in Pakistan have been reporting strong growth in headline sales, according to BMI. Both companies grew their topline sales revenue by more than 20% year-on-year in the year to December 31 2009. Their annual sales are now approaching US$500m.

Against the odds, demand for beer is strengthening off the back of strong growth posted by Murree Brewery. Despite Muslim's accounting for 97% of Pakistan population and extensive bans on the consumption of alcohol in place, Murree has been reporting strong financials. Q1 (three months to September 2009) after duty and tax sales climb by 16% to PKR539.4mn (US$6.5mn), while net profit after tax increased by 26% to PKR63.9mn (US$0.76mn).

As the sales of cola drinks and tobacco products decline in the West, US companies are targeting developing nations with heavy advertising to increase sales.

Bunge, the third biggest US agribusiness company after Archer-Daniel-Midland and Cargill, has bought Chicago-based Corn Products International Inc. for $4.2 billion in stock to add corn-based sweeteners as demand increases for soft drinks and processed foods in China, India and Pakistan, according to US media reports. This acquisition enlarged Bunge's international footprint in emerging economies to drive its growth.

Corn Products is the fourth-largest maker of high-fructose corn syrup in the U.S. and will give Bunge new customers in Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow said in a note on this deal. Corn sweeteners are used in soft drinks and processed foods instead of traditional cane or beet sugar because of their lower cost and higher concentration. A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, according to San Francisco Chronicle. China, India and Pakistan have all seen double digit annual growth in consumption of soft drinks and processed foods for several years. Last year, the PepsiCo growth in US and Europe was less than 3% but PepsiCo International sales were up 22%, an impressive increase fueled by double-digit growth in China, Russia, Pakistan and the Middle East.

Processed foods and soft drink companies are often blamed in the United States for dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes, particularly among children. Some even accuse them of being merchants of death, not unlike the big tobacco companies. Many health experts argue that the issue is bigger than more calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream leading to heart disease.

While the presence and growth of Bunge, Pepsi and other food giants are likely to create more jobs in emerging economies such as India and Pakistan, the price for this opportunity is likely to be the danger of greater health problems associated with fats and corn sweeteners in processed foods and soft drinks.

Similar or even greater health threats are coming from the major expansion of tobacco giant Philip Morris in emerging economies. As the smoking rates in developed countries have slowly declined, they have risen dramatically in some developing counties, where PMI is a major player. These include Pakistan (up 42% since 2001), Ukraine (up 36%) and Argentina (up 18%), according to the Wall Street Journal. Philip Morris is currently building a major new plant in Pakistan.

Globalization can potentially bring many benefits, including access to more jobs and improved living conditions in the emerging economies. However, globalization also brings with it all the ills that have been witnessed in the West, including environmental deterioration and life-style diseases such as diabetes, heart-disease, various forms of cancer etc. The challenge for Pakistan, and other countries like it, is to learn from the mistakes of the West. Instead of just repeating such mistakes, Pakistan, India and China must find ways to extract the benefits while minimizing the cost of modernization.

Growing health consciousness across Pakistan is strengthening demand for low calorie carbonate substitutes and bottled water. With concerns about the safety of tap water extensive, demand for bottled water is growing strongly off the back of modest gains in per capita incomes and more importantly, more widespread product investment by leading players.

Here's a video clip of Coke Studio with Arif Lohar and Meesha:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Media Boom

Pakistan's Murree Brewery in KSE-100 Index

Health Risks in Developing Nations Rise With Globalization

Pakistan's Choice: Globalization Versus Talibanization

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Pakistan Crowned T20 World Champion

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from CBS 60 Minutes story on Givaudan, the largest flavoring company in the world:


When you chug a sports drink or chew a stick of gum, you probably don't think of science. But there is a precise science - and a delicate art - behind what you're tasting. Morley Safer reports on the multibillion dollar flavor industry, whose scientists create natural and artificial flavorings that make your mouth water and keep you coming back for more.

The following is a script of "The Flavorists" which aired on Nov. 27, 2011. Morley Safer is correspondent, Ruth Streeter, producer.

As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, you may feel as overstuffed as that turkey you ate. And if you're overweight - and the chances are, you are, it's probably because you eat too much, too much of the wrong stuff. Most of the wrong stuff we eat comes in a bottle, a can, or a box - food that's been processed - much of that food has been flavored.

The flavoring industry is the enabler of the food processing business - which depends on it to create a craving for everything from soda pop to chicken soup. It is Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory as a multibillion dollar industry; an industry cloaked in secrecy. But recently Givaudan, the largest flavoring company in the world, allowed us in to see them work their magic.

[Jim Hassel: So definitely an aroma, the mandarin, dancy tangerine. Real mild though. Not in your face.]

These are "super sniffers," "super tasters"...

[Andy Daniher: And more bitter.]

...on the prowl. The special forces - first responders to the call for the next best taste.

[Andy Daniher: The mandarin notes are fantastic.]

They are braving the wilds of a citrus grove in Riverside, California, where Jim Hassel - whose nose and palette are legendary - leads a Givaudan team on a taste safari. Big game hunters in search of the next great taste in soft drinks. Their inspiration? The greatest flavorist of them all: Mother Nature.

Jim Hassel: Seeing everything that's available really just drives the whole creative process.

Morley Safer: Like an artist going to Rome or something?

Hassel: Correct. Correct.

Safer: But the ultimate purpose is to sell more soft drinks or whatever?

Hassel: That's what we're in the business of, selling flavors....

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57330816/the-flavorists-tweaking-tastes-and-creating-cravings/?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET opinion on the latest season of Pakistani Idol TV show:

The year 2011 marked the discovery of various musical gems through the emergence of Pakistani talent shows like “Uth Records”. The show played a key role in turning raw Pakistani talent into seasoned musicians and singers of today. Every episode had a unique flavour and charm; as it showcased a different musician, singing a different genre, belonging to a different ethnic background and representing a different part of the country. From the catchy tunes of Natasha Ejaz to the folk rock belted out by Yasir & Jawad, every artist created a cult following of their own, becoming a regular feature on the local radio channels. Of course, none of this could have happened without music producers Omran Shafique and Gumby who were integral in the success of the first season of “Uth Records”.

So when 2012 started and the second season of the show was announced, there were even higher expectations from it. However, this time, there was a slight variation in the line-up. Gumby had taken over Shafique’s spot as the solo producer of the show. The fact that Gumby was producing music left many confused as he is better known for his drumming skills than anything else. However, people had been talking about his creative input in producing “Coke Studio” for a long while and this would’ve been a great opportunity for him to put his talent to test.

However, Gumby couldn’t come even close to what was expected from a seasoned musician like him. With artists like Jarar Malik, Affaq Mushtaq, XXI, Sara Haider, Orangenoise and Rahim Saranjam Khan who featured on the show, only two managed to stand out — Khan and Mushtaq. The rest of the artists made no lasting impression and were not extraordinary by any means.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/365571/uth-records-tunes-of-disappointment/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Washington Post piece on American fast food restaurant chains in Pakistan:

Anti-American sentiment may have reached historic highs in this country, but for many Pakistanis, the indignation does not extend to their bellies.

Just over the past few days, Islamabad inaugurated its first Hardee’s restaurant and its first American-style sports bar. In recent months, McDonald’s not only reopened its only restaurant in the capital but also added a home-delivery outlet. Those businesses join existing burger joints and other American fast-food restaurants such as Pizza Hut, KFC and Domino’s Pizza.
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After opening its first Pakistani restaurant in Lahore in 1998, McDonald’s now counts 21 outlets across the country. Hardee’s launched the first of its four restaurants in Pakistan a year and a half ago and plans to open a total of 25 within five years.

Nowhere is Pakistanis’ love of American fast food more apparent these days than at the newest Hardee’s. A few days after a much-hyped opening attended by U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter and his wife, lines of customers still extended outside the doors. Nawaz Sadiq, manager for development and training at Hardee’s, said the outlet has served an average of 5,000 to 6,000 customers a day so far.

“The Pakistani market is very much brand-conscious,” Sadiq said. “Pakistani people are against America because of its policies, but at the same time, people want quality.”

Unlike in the United States, fast food here is among the more expensive eating-out options. At 390 Pakistani rupees, or about $4.50, a Big Mac is out of reach for most people. Consequently, many customers are part of Pakistan’s highly educated class and have spent time in the United States, or have at least more favorable opinions of the United States than most of their countrymen.
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But for Mohsin Masud, owner of the brand-new restaurant 3rd Base, security is not a major concern. Masud, who spent time in the United States and Canada, said he opened his sports bar because he couldn’t find good hamburgers in Islamabad. The restaurant, which has a Facebook page, also specializes in steaks and chicken wings. But one standard sports-bar item is conspicuously absent.

“The only thing missing is the beer,” Masud said, because it is impossible for Muslims in Pakistan to obtain an alcohol license.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/american-fast-food-on-the-menu-in-pakistan/2011/07/16/gIQAt6RRVI_story.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story on Pepsi sales in Pakistan:



Pakistan is one of the top 10 markets outside the United States for PepsiCo, says Qasim Khan, a senior executive in the global food and beverage giant’s management team for Asia.

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Somewhat surprisingly for PepsiCo, its biggest brand in Pakistan is not the signature Pepsi cola, but rather Mountain Dew. “Pakistan is the second-largest market in the world for Mountain Dew after the United States,” said Muhammad Khosa, head of corporate affairs at PepsiCo Pakistan.

Pepsi began its operations in Pakistan with carbonated beverages in 1967, and currently has eight bottling franchisees operating throughout the country. In addition to Pepsi and Mountain Dew, they produce 7up and Mirinda in the carbonated beverage category, and Sting in the energy drink segment. Over the past decade, Pepsi has added snack foods and fruit juices to its portfolio of products in Pakistan, which it manufactures primarily out of a factory in Lahore.

The addition of the snack food business – as well as strong growth in its beverage lines – has resulted in PepsiCo becoming the largest food and beverage company in Pakistan. According to sources familiar with the matter, the revenues of PepsiCo Pakistan and its eight bottlers came to a combined Rs82 billion for the financial year ending June 30, 2012, up 19% compared to the previous year.

Growth seems to be moving at breakneck speed in the snack food business, which the company started in 2006. “The Pakistan snack food business was the fastest growing in the Asia Pacific region for PepsiCo last year,” said Khan.

Indeed, growth was so fast that the company’s manufacturing plant for snacks reached its peak production capacity within its first year of operations. The company had initially estimated that it would be able to handle at least three years’ growth: it is now scrambling to add capacity as quickly as possible.

Pakistan’s growing importance for PepsiCo is increasingly being reflected in different ways. A television commercial produced in Pakistan for Mountain Dew is now used worldwide. Pakistani technical staff members are occasionally sent to PepsiCo’s divisions around the world to train others. And the PepsiCo food laboratory in Lahore is now used as one of the main labs for products being tested for the Middle East and Africa.

The company’s business unit, under which Pakistan falls, is headed by Qasim Khan, a 1979 graduate of Hailey College in Lahore. After a brief stint at Procter & Gamble, Khan joined PepsiCo in 1986 and has been with the company ever since; serving in senior positions throughout the world.
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PepsiCo and its bottlers combined have over 15,000 employees in Pakistan. And it is among the highest taxpaying entities in the country.

Yet not everything is going well for PepsiCo in Pakistan. The natural gas shortage has meant that gas supply to its captive power generation unit at its manufacturing facility has been cut off, forcing it towards alternative, and more expensive, fuel sources. “The cost savings we had managed in our logistics operations were wiped out by higher energy costs,” said Khan.

Nonetheless, the company plans to continue growing its operations in Pakistan and make it part of the global supply chain. Kurkure, spicy corn-based snack currently available only in India and Pakistan, will soon be exported to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore from Pakistan, owing to the fact that the chips produced in Pakistan are already certified ‘halal’.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/493197/food-and-beverages-pakistan-among-pepsicos-top-10-non-us-markets/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's ET on Coke's planned investment in Pakistan:

KARACHI: Optimistic about its growth prospects in Pakistan, the Coca-Cola Company – one of the world’s largest beverage companies – will invest $379 million on manufacturing facilities across Pakistan over the next three years to expand its business, the company’s Pakistani subsidiary announced on Monday.

The announcement comes on top of the $172 million already invested by Coca-Cola in the country in 2011. The beverage giant will be spending the money on three new bottling plants, one each in Karachi, Multan and Islamabad. The announcement was made in the ground-breaking ceremony of the Multan plant on Monday.

The funds will be utilised for expansion and bringing about infrastructure changes and systemic improvements in the Coca-Cola system, an official press release said.

The expansion plans come as rising demand makes it difficult for Coca-Cola to keep pace with its existing production capacity in Karachi and Punjab, according to company officials. A decent growth in its top-line may also be another factor encouraging more investments.

Owing to its strategic location, Multan can not only serve southern and northern Punjab – which alone accounts for more than 60% of Coca-Cola’s business – but can also cater to Karachi’s market, company spokesman Fahad Qadir told The Express Tribune.

Greenfield investment refers to new foreign direct investment that will be utilised in setting up a completely new project, as opposed to an existing business expanding operations with its free cash flows.

Qadir says the plant will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art production equipment and product warehousing facilities. The plant will also have a much higher manufacturing capacity, he said.

Besides the three Greenfield plants announced, Coca-Cola Pakistan already operates six bottling factories in Pakistan, located in Karachi, Gujranwala, Multan, Lahore, Rahimyar Khan, and Faisalabad. It buys close to Rs13 billion in raw materials from around 300 local suppliers.

The Coca-Cola System, according to the press release, provides direct and indirect employment to more than 8,000 people in Pakistan; while another 35,000 people are employed through its supply chain, and another 100,000 benefit through employment in allied industries.

Coco-Cola Pakistan refused to comment on its revenues: but our sources say the company earned over Rs50 billion in revenues for the financial year ending June 30, 2012; a 55% increase when compared with the previous year. It also paid Rs10 billion in taxes.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/515776/coca-cola-announces-379m-expansion-plan-for-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story on the use of music in cola wars in Pakistan:

Promoting a brand through sponsorship of music, it seems, has become an important marketing strategy for the world’s largest beverages manufacturers, at least in Pakistan. After phenomenal success of Coke Studio, a television music series sponsored by Coca-Cola Pakistan, the archrival PepsiCo has launched its own music show, Pepsi Smash.
The Pakistani subsidiary of the world’s largest beverages company successfully positioned itself as a higher-end aspirational brand through its sponsorship of Coke Studio, now five seasons old. Starting in 2008, the music series helped the company’s flagship soft drink gain a significant market share in Pakistan – the world’s sixth largest consumer market, dominated by market leader PepsiCo.
According to a Wall Street Journal report of July 2010, Pepsi has lost significant market share to Coca-Cola because of the latter’s sponsorship of Coke Studio. As of July 2010, Coke claimed 35% of all cola sales in Pakistan while Pepsi’s market share was 65%, down from a dominant 80% in the 1990s that it mainly gained by sponsoring cricket.

Optimistic about future growth prospects, Coca-Cola announced this March that it would invest $379 million in three new bottling plants – one each in Karachi, Multan and Islamabad – that is in addition to another $172 million investment it announced in 2011.
The expansion plans come on the back of a strong growth in the company’s topline and volumes. Coca-Cola’s Pakistan arm earned over Rs50 billion in revenues for the financial year ending June 30, 2012, a 55% increase when compared with the previous year.
The improvement in distribution system and focus on consumer activation as well as promotion resulted in volume growth of 23% in the year 2012, according to Coca-Cola Içiçek, Turkey-based partner that has a 49% stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Pakistan – the Pakistani subsidiary of the US-based parent company that sells the product.
Coke Studio has helped the company dent Pepsi’s lead in cola wars, however, the latter still remains the largest player in what it sees as one of the top 10 non-US markets in the world.
“It is safe to say that PepsiCo is Pakistan’s most popular cola brand,” Pepsico spokesperson Mohammad Khosa said. The company has a lot of other exciting brands including Mountain Dew, 7Up, Mirinda, Slice, Sting and Aquafina that are doing wonderfully, he said.
Khosa refused to reveal the exact revenue or market share, but sources confirmed that revenues of PepsiCo Pakistan and its eight bottlers stood at a combined Rs82 billion for the financial year ending June 30, 2012, up 19% compared to the previous year.
Coca-Cola declined to comment on Pepsi Smash. Critics, however, see it as a sign of vulnerability of Pepsi’s lead. As opposed to the critics’ view that PepsiCo is copying its rival’s marketing strategy, Khosa said Pepsi Smash was launched to build on the brand’s longstanding association with music....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/552055/coke-and-pepsi-bank-on-showbiz-to-fight-cola-wars/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET story on Burger King planned franchises in Pakistan:

KARACHI:
As anticipated for long, Burger King is finally coming to Pakistan, most likely in mid-2014, as MCR Pakistan, the franchisee of Pizza Hut in Pakistan, has entered into a master franchise agreement with Burger King Worldwide Inc, The Express Tribune has learnt.
While BK and MCR didn’t disclose the details of the agreement, sources familiar with the matter said that the bidding took place in Dubai a few weeks ago. Three parties, including a Dubai-based investor, participated in the bidding, which went in favour of the MCR Group.
There is not much skilled staff in the market, which may require engaging foreign trainers and the company hasn’t yet identified locations. According to the Dawn ad, BK’s first outlet will be opened in Karachi.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/577335/fast-food-boom-burger-king-finally-comes-to-pakistan/

Related ET story on fast food:

The fast food boom in Pakistan is a really practical example. It was well-received by the local community and now enjoys healthy growth and stellar profitability despite fierce competition.
Introduction of multinational food franchises, initiated in the 1990s, was in the midst of non-existent local fast food restaurants. Today, the trend is spreading fast and the industry experts believe this to be just the beginning for the flourishing industry.
Some reasons for the spectacular rise of the industry are that Pakistani middle-class has welcomed the cuisine due to variety of bargain deals, products, atmosphere, attitude and strict hygiene standards, not to mention more disposable income.
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“It is true that the middle-class is now the priority for many franchisers. At lease for us (McDonalds) the middle-class is the real target as they spend more on fast food of their disposable income,” said Sohail Malik, country manager of McDonalds Pakistan, while speaking to The Express Tribune. “With the introduction of plenty of choices available in the industry, the masses have gained awareness and this awareness is the key to healthy competition, he added.
Marketing is the other key for franchises to grow their respective businesses. Previously amid insignificant competition, the restaurants did not really latch on to the importance of marketing, but it is completely inverse in the present scenario as competition has grown and major international brands such as Hardees Incorporated, Fatburger and Kentucky Fried Chicken already operate in the country.
“Tough competition also proves to be a blessing for the consumers because of the choices and great bargain and promotional deals available,” said Bilal Hanif, a fast food enthusiast.
As far as the growth of the industry is concerned, according to McDonalds Pakistan’s country director, this is just the beginning...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/576600/fast-food-industry-competition-helps-middle-class-contribute-to-growth/
Riaz Haq said…
Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) expects to start production in five new factories in Egypt and Pakistan over the next 18 months, seeing double-digit percentage growth in sales for both markets this year, its Middle East and North Africa president told Reuters.
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Surpassing Egypt for its sales growth, Pakistan will see three new plants open in the next 18 months in Karachi, Multan and Islamabad to serve the domestic market with sparkling drinks such as Coke, Fanta and Sprite.

"We watch the needle in Pakistan and almost every month we red-line on what our capacity is," Ferguson said, adding he expected sales growth of around 20 percent in Pakistan this year. "We're just scratching the surface there."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/18/us-coca-cola-egypt-pakistan-idUSKBN0ET1NE20140618
Riaz Haq said…
Via @nprmusic: A #Pakistan Pop Star Zeb Bangash Draws On #Pashto, #Darri #Music Tradition http://n.pr/1R5ScG7 https://vimeo.com/51609075

Here's a phrase you don't hear a lot in the US: "Pakistani pop music." In fact, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a thriving music industry — and singer Zebunissa Bangash, or Zeb for short, is one of its stars.

There has been violence and threat to Pakistani culture since the country was founded 68 years ago, both for political and religious reasons. Zeb was never subjected to that scrutiny: She studied art history at college in the US before returning home to form a band with her cousin, Haniya. Their accessible pop songs found a devoted following.

"I'm sure there are artists out there who are fighting to do music," she says. "They certainly need recognition for that and they need support for that. But I'm not that artist."

Pakistan has produced generations of musicians like Zeb, who defy easy assumptions about art and Islam — whether they're performing Bollywood soundtracks or spiritual Sufi anthems.

"Artists are supposed to be dark, and they're supposed to be cool, and they're supposed to stay up all night," she says laughing. "A lot of times, I'm taunted by my colleagues and my peers. They're like, 'Oh, there you are, Miss Disney Princess. What's happening in your head?'"

More often than not, music and songs are what's happening in her head. But music isn't just for professionals in Pakistan: From lullabies to family gatherings to religion, music is a part of everyday life.

"I used to think that that's what all families have," Zeb explains. "I think even the way you recite the Qur'an itself, there is music embedded in it. You don't call it singing, but it does have music embedded in it."

Several years ago, Zeb appeared on one of the country's most popular TV shows (Coke Studio) and sang a song in Dari and Pashto, regional languages most Pakistanis didn't understand, accompanied by a traditional stringed instrument known as the rabab. The unorthodox performance was a huge success.

https://vimeo.com/51609075

"The song that people have given me the most love for is [that] song," Zeb says. "That's when I started thinking about the beauty that is hidden, or that seems to be erased."

Zeb began studying the history of South Asian music after that. She says Muslim artists have often seen their work as a form of worship, in which creating beauty is about communion with the divine. She's begun working with a classical teacher, Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, to explore the music of the past and the culture that produced it.

"What kind of a world is it where this was not only appreciated but encouraged, and had lots of patrons?" she asks. "I'm interested in really exploring that and learning more about it."

It's a tradition a lot of the country's urban pop stars are losing.

"For some people, especially for the urban youth and for those who feel like globalized citizens, we feel completely disconnected from it," Zeb says. "But the more traditional societies, and especially in places like rural Pakistan, those traditions are still linked to something beautiful and something that was intricate and subtle."

And Zeb is not alone. She's part of a new generation of Muslim musicians that is looking to the past to try to create a more inclusive future.
Riaz Haq said…
Beverage Giant Coca Cola to invest $350m in #Pakistan. New plants in #Karachi #Lahore #Islamabad http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/?p=449113 via @ePakistanToday


A delegation of the Coca Cola Company led by its President Eurasia & Africa Group, Nathan Kalumbu, met Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Thursday and briefed him about the company’s investment plans in Pakistan.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar welcomed the delegation and said the present government offered a liberal investment regime and facilitated all foreign investors in accordance with existing regulations of the country. He briefed Kalumbu about the economic achievements of the government and said having achieved economic stability it was now on the path of economic growth and job creation.

Nathan Kalumbu apprised the finance minister that encouraged by the economic turnaround and stability achieved by Pakistan in the last two years and the positive rating accorded to it by international rating agencies, the Coca Cola Company has already started implementing its plan to invest over US$350 million in the country. He added that Coca Cola was already a leading US investor in Pakistan.

Unveiling the investment plan, Kalumbu stated that three new Coca Cola plants were being established at Karachi, Multan and Islamabad and the fresh investment would further contribute to strengthening of economy and job creation. He said Pakistan was ranked 7th in size in Coca Cola’s Eurasia and Africa group which includes 84 countries and the company accords it due importance in terms of production, marketing and other commercial activities.

Members of the delegation which also included Curtis A. Ferguson, President Coca Cola Middle East & North Africa (MENA), Rizwanullah Khan General Manger Pakistan and Afghanistan Region, John Mathew Galvin, General Manger Coca Cola Beverages Pakistan Ltd and Fahad Qadir, Director Public Affairs & Communications Pakistan & Afghanistan Region, thanked the finance minister for sparing time out of his busy schedule to meet them and assured that the Coca Cola company would do its utmost to contribute positively to Pakistan’s economy.
Riaz Haq said…
Patari Tabeer--A Platform For New Music Talent In Pakistan

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sonyarehman/2017/02/05/a-platform-for-new-music-talent-in-pakistan/#7c06ad5b6838

Pakistan’s largest music streaming site, Patari, recently launched Patari Tabeer, a project that has stirred up the local music scene thanks to its unique line-up of artists from Islamabad to Sindh, and beyond.

With its sixth and final song soon-to-be released, the project brings unexposed talent from humble backgrounds to centre stage: a tea-seller, a cleaner, a 12-year-old peon and more, pairing up each artist with a well-known music producer.

Far from the mainstream pop ditties and Bollywood-inspired numbers, the tracks part of the Tabeer series offer the listener earthy, unpretentious vocals paired with a contemporary sound: funk, downtempo and chill-hop lounge.

Speaking about the project, Ahmer Naqvi, the COO of Patari, revealed that Tabeer was inspired by a man called Nazar Gill, a sweeper who made a living working in an apartment building in Islamabad where Naqvi lived.

Approaching Naqvi one day by knocking on his door and asking him if he could give Gill’s song a listen, Tabeer was ultimately created to give unknown talents like Gill a chance at music and a chance at a lifelong dream.

“We thought of taking his ambition and talent and pairing him with a contemporary producer in order to let his voice be heard at a grander stage,” Naqvi states about Gill, “He composed a song about finding the Divine inside every heart, and on Christmas Day, we went to [his village near Faisalabad] and filmed [him and his family] hearing the finished product for the first time.”

The experience, Naqvi mentions, left him moved.

Talking about his song, ‘Jugni,’ which features as the fourth track on Tabeer’s playlist, Gill states in the project’s video; “What I am trying to say in [the] song is that when we love, we should love from the heart. Love shouldn’t be about empty words, it should be true,” adding that he hopes the “whole world” gets a chance to hear his song.

“[Gill] was our starting point, but every singer's discovery was different,” Naqvi says, talking about how he and his team went about in selecting artists for the project. “There wasn't any one process, just the same goal - to unearth a hidden gem from the places no one bothers to look at.”

But what comes after the last song is released, what’s next for Tabeer’s artists?


“There has been a lot of interest by the media, but generally in Pakistan, this is hype-driven and fades fast,” Naqvi states, “Our aim is to help each artist record at least one more song, and start getting them performances and gigs so that they can earn. We don't expect them to become superstars, and certainly not overnight, because that doesn't quite happen in our current state. So what we are looking to do is to create something more sustainable for them.”

With plans to launch similar initiatives which continue to highlight raw talent in Pakistan, Naqvi mentions that this isn’t the end of the Tabeer series.

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