Saturday, August 07, 2010

Groove Resort - Check-in & Enjoy The Musical Chords

It’s now a full decade since I am promoting underground musicians via texts, spam emails :D and since the arrival of orkut on social networking sites. PMR, UMR, J4Jumpy, KoolMuzone, PakiUM and others can somehow give me credit for their visitor development. In January, I was asked by an Indian Media Group to be part of their International Screening Panel for a Battle of the Underground Bands. The post “The decade long affair with pakistani underground music finally pays off” is pretty much self explanatory.

Those who know me well have an idea that I only promote young and underground musicians. Once they are famous and into the mainstream media, I abandon them. Same is the case with other promotions that I do including local technical and software products. During the screening process, one of the other judges asked me why I never took Band Management professionally. After all I have connections with both B’s, the Brands and Bands. My answer was simple and straight. “Because I love staying underground and only promote those who need promotion.”

Lately, few of my family members and friends who are now abroad working or studying sent me few requests for songs and I eventually had to make up an Online Music Repository for them. This made me think over the process again. Why bands contacted me before the age of social networking?  They needed technical assistance to promote their songs online. Now things have changed with more awareness amongst us all about web tools. They have their fan pages on Facebook where they can upload music, pictures and videos. Also they can update their fans and interact with them. So practically people don’t need that “ROOFI” anymore and I am really happy things have changed for good. I remember JAL’s "Aadat". This is one of the biggest promotions that I have done in my life. The song was released in underground circles in 2003 and it took the band around 15 months to take the video to masses. That’s why Basim, on of my college friends taunted me with this. “Tu wohi ganay sunta hai jo koi naheen sunta and baad mein wohi 2-3 saal hit ho jatay hein and har koi sun raha hota hai”.

Cutting it short, one of my best friends recently convinced me that you should continue the practice even if things have changed and in fact bring all musicians on a single platform where fans can come and interact with them. So we thought about the idea of Groove Resort.

Groove Resort, a project of ROOFExpress is a social networking place for artists and their fans. It primarily acts as a bridge between the artist and music listeners. It has potential to become a powerful music community to share any music related information. Artists can register for free and share their musical experience through blogs and other sharing tools. The artists can provide information about upcoming shows, add albums, add fans, add photos, add videos (also embed video links via YouTube), create customized profile page and do other related tasks. Moreover artists can even give iTunes and Amazon links to buy the original work.

Any internet user can come onto musician’s profile page and can listen or download (if allowed by the artist/band) their work or videos. Registered listeners have privileges to create a customized profile, add photos, add albums to favorites, comment on blog, and do lots of exciting stuff.

Once you will sign up for your account, you will get to know about dozens of options that are available to you. Groove Resort would be a complete failure unless and until supported by artists and their fans so now it’s up to them how to make use of it. I have done my part so that no artist comes up to me and say “Roofi Bhai/Jigger, mera gaana and video upload kar dein and please post this as your status. I need your support to hit masses. Aap sirf apne doston ko promote karte hein.” They now have all the control in their hand with this automated system. Ending this post, I would even request the mainstream artists and bands to also consider it as an option to promote their music and show the rest of the world about the strength of our music community.
Sunday, August 01, 2010

How "I" saw this year's TEDxLahore

Yes John G. Rives it’s exactly 4 in the morning when I have started writing this post as the call for prayer is being given at the moment in Lahore. If you ask me, great ideas and thoughts come to me after 3 a.m. most of which are archived by the office time. I never wanted to write this post as Tajdar, one of the organizers at TEDxLahore assured me that he’ll post the post-event details but right now I feel should jot down few random thoughts that some people may or may not like. So let me begin.

As I was about to leave to attend TEDxLahore, the rain started pouring and the only thing on my mind was if I would be able to make it. Thanks to my brother that I did and to my surprise every confirmed attendee did. Wasn’t that some kind of achievement with majority reaching the venue an hour before the actual event time in Pakistan?

Some people hate me for calling spade and spade so I won’t tell the organizers that they were perfect, awesome etc. etc. since they are my friends because if I’ll do so I’ll be dishonest with them. They won’t be able to improve. The event had technical glitches yet it was a great event because the positive things overshadowed few negative ones.  I say this because the “Haters” who are criticizing this event should take into account the stupendous effort that has been done behind the scenes to make this event possible. Being an event organizer myself for the last 7 years with dozens of events in my profile as volunteer, I can understand the side of organizers.

Those who missed the event, I won’t tell you what speakers talked about as videos would be soon uploaded by the TEDxLahore Team and you can watch all talks for yourself.  After combining the both sessions, you’ll see that both inspiration and information were present in the event. Those who left after the first session should’ve sticked back.

What I most hated about the event was everybody including myself complaining for one reason or the other. It didn't come as a surprise as we are a nation of complainers and commentators with expert opinion on every issue that the world faces.

  • The doors are not open yet. What’s the purpose of First Come First Served?
  • Why is there no security check on the gate?
  • Who made the pathetic choice of speakers?
  • There is too much mismanagement.
  • The organizers are from elite class and they know nothing about TED.
  • Why they have put MAC for presentations if nobody knows how to use it.
  • What are musicians doing at TED? (Hello, "E" standards for Entertainment retards)

Well my friends, should I lodge another complaint that somebody hit me accidentally from behind and made my famous iPED hit the floor to break its touch screen. In fact I didn’t say a single word to the guy because I left my attitude at home when I came to attend this event. For God Sake, it’s not a paid Concert or Research Conference where you are expecting VIP treatment. If TEDxLahore team would have asked me to sit on the grass to listen to the talks, I would have loved to do so. It’s an event for sharing with each other, the ideas and the experiences even those of organizers. Those who have attended earlier events of TEDxLahore would know how far they have come since last year and Insha'Allah they’ll improve more in next events.

Coming back to the speakers, I feel that it’s not an easy task to pick ones. In my point of view, Khurram & Asim did marvelous work in selecting the ones who presented. Where the speakers had to come from? They had to come from our society. Our leaders are corrupt because majority of us as individuals and Pakistanis are corrupt. Moreover did you take your precious time out to nominate a good speaker?  Seriously did you?  Most of those who don’t know, Dr. Zeeshan Usmani (whom I now call the Dr. Charles Eppes of Pakistan) was not even on the watch list of TEDxLahore Team.  Somebody nominated him and therefore TEDxLahore reached out to him. Apart from that there were dozens of speakers that were asked by the organizers to join in but they couldn’t due to their commitments and busy schedule.  Those who were expecting James Cameron or Steve Jobs like speakers at the event should admit the fact that we don’t live in the innovative society for the moment. As Dr. Nadeem said we are “mimickers” so let’s accept the ground reality.  We deploy or use what becomes obsolete in the western world and then feel proud in sharing it. So unless we have a good entrepreneurial culture, investors, people appreciating each others ideas, you wouldn’t produce great speakers either. Having said that, I don’t buy the argument that speakers were not inspiring. They were the best mixture of different professions at a single event that I have ever seen in Pakistan.

Moving onto selection of attendees, the other type of “Haters” emerged who didn’t get accepted to attend the live event. They only had a mission to propagate the few negative things that TEDxLahore had onto every social media platform or forum. I would ask them to get a life. Over 1000 people applied out of which TEDxLahore could only accommodate 400 at the venue. They wanted an audience of individuals from all walks of life and let me assure you that the rejection rate would increase in coming events of TEDxLahore as more and more people would become aware of it. But did anybody stop you from viewing the proceedings of the event?  There were 4 Viewing Parties within Lahore, one in Islamabad and Karachi each as well as one in Pakistan’s Embassy at Netherlands. Moreover the event was being live streamed and anybody could have joined by just logging onto their broadband internet. They didn’t because they were too busy posting negative comments for the whole world to see.  

Those who are criticizing the organizers should seriously shut up. I am harsh on this because those who are doing so are themselves a bunch of douchebags. This event was not managed by a professional event management company. It was done purely by professionals and students between the age 19 – 30 while taking time off from their other daily commitments. Did anyone stop these "Haters" from acquiring a TEDx license? After all the international conferences are going for so long and they should have applied for license before Asim did.  They didn’t because they can only sit back and complain about things going wrong everywhere.  Did anyone stop them from volunteering for TEDxLahore?  Was an IP jammer/blocking done by the TEDxLahore team for them not to submit their forms as volunteers?  If Yes then if they can find a way to access facebook in countrywide ban then they surely could have used some proxies to submit their form. What are their contributions to the society?  So if they can’t support or volunteer for such a positive endeavor, they don’t have any right to bitch about the event. They should better get out, organize a better one for others to see and I can assure all possible support in my capacity. The TEDxLahore team deserves kudos and appreciation at all forums for coming forward and putting up a good show.

This long blog post was some sort of an indirect message for all Pakistanis to please get up and start bringing the change. If you can’t change others, at least change yourself. If we want to see positive things happening around us, we would have to complement each other. If such a culture is developed and we in real terms become “A Developing Country”, things would start changing on their own and we would automatically have better professionals and experts to speak on such events.

TEDxLahore team burnt the incomplete original soundtrack on the TEDxLahore Music CD. So let me share the complete version below which is available at Youtube and I would soon post the Mp3 Link and Arafat's wonderful speech on stage before the song was played. By doing this, I have at least reduced one complaint about the event before ending this note.