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29 Sep

YouTube comes to Pakistan with a bang

In an exciting evening buzzing with the corporate world, media representatives, musicians and other content creators, Youtube officially launched itself in Pakistan last night. The event itself was a show to look at – the room was impeccably done up in red and black with a mocktail bar serving refreshments. A DJ fused his live electronic music with a tabla and sitar player as they performed in eccentrically arranged cubicles hanging on a wall. There were murmurs of what this means for Pakistan – of course it’s a big deal, considering the popular video streaming website was blocked for over three years, blocking access to a lot of online content.

But YouTube is back and it looks like they have big plans. The show was basically held to make a few big announcements that mean good news for many content creators. Firstly, Youtube Pakistan has started monetization, which means that everyone can now make money based on their YouTube videos. The higher number of views a person has on their videos, the more ads they can host on their content. Which means all those closet musicians, makeup artists, maths tutors – anyone can now make money sitting at home, as long as their content is viral.

The second big announcement made was about the YouTube offline mode, where people can watch their favourite videos and drama serials offline. This won’t apply to all videos at the moment, but as YouTube gets bigger and better, they will eventually increase the options of videos that can be watched offline.

Of course, all these announcements weren’t made in a boring, conference-like manner. Saad Haroon, a comedian who needs no introduction, was the host of the evening and he kept the crowd engaged the entire night. Danish Ali also made a brief appearance and entertained the crowd with his stand-up comedy routine. The Nescafe Basement girls also performed their classic rendition of ‘Love me again’ by John Newman.

But there were two performances that were relevant to the YouTube launch because YouTube is the very platform that made them famous. First, Ali Gul Pir joined the stage to an excited audience to talk about how his career propelled after ‘Waderay Ka Beta’ became an instant viral sensation, thanks to YouTube. He then performed the classic along with another famous song, ‘Taaro Maaro.’ Next, the Justin Beebees took the stage to sing Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’. Anyone who is even remotely active on social media must have seen these two young girls who became stars after a video of them singing the famous song went viral. From interior Punjab, these girls had no education and couldn’t speak English, which is why their flawless performance won everyone’s heart.

The show ended with Noori taking the stage, and while Ali Hamza was without his brother last night, the band gave an electrifying performance where Haroon Shahid also performed his song from Coke Studio this season. Plucked from the crowd on spot, Rachel Viccaji was called to the stage by the band to do back-up vocals. A good impromptu performance by her shows that Viccaji has a strong command over her vocals. Though she did say later that she couldn’t hear herself sing because everything on stage was too loud, she was hoping she did okay. Viccaji, we could hear you and you sounded great.

Everyone left the room buzzing with excitement. Brand managers could be seen approaching the musicians; there was talk in the air about possible future collaborations; was trending on Twitter in Pakistan, followed by a hashtag about India, of course. All in all, this is big news. Let’s see who and what comes forward now, thanks to YouTube.


Manal Faheem Khan

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute who has studied film and journalism from SZABIST. Will be found at the gym if not in the office.

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