Overload drummer Farhad Humayun speaks on spearheading ‘The System’ and its importance for the music industry

July 7, 2009

“The music scene is bad and almost defunct.
There”s a lot of potential in new Pakistan and
young budding artists are with me on this.”

– Overload drummer Farhad Humayun speaks on spearheading ‘The System’ and its importance for the music industry

Maheen Sabeeh

The brainchild of Overload drummer and seasoned session player Farhad Humayun, this ambitious project is called ‘The System’ and it took off last year and is now growing into a force, slowly but surely.
With the might of Facebook and the power of emails and Internet, brand-new artists can send their demos to ‘The System’ and the idea is to give them a platform where they can pla music. The project not only involves concerts but record deals as well as television content but it is all being worked out. Instep Today catches up with the man spearheading the project.

Over to Farhad Humayun…

Instep Today: How many shows have you had and which bands have been featured so far?

Farhad Humayun: So far we’ve had three events. The first one in Lahore was opened by Ahmed Sallahuddin of GIK University. The middle act was Co-VEN and the headline act was Overload.Farhad-Humayoun

In the second show, Vajiha from LUMS opened the show, Simt followed and the headlining act were Call (in an unplugged session with violins and cello). The third event featured underground bands from Islamabad.

Instep Today: Who else is behind The System?

Farhad: The entire Riot Productions team is working for it plus music, recording and marketing professionals. Active members are Jamal Rahman of Aflatoon visual studios, Salman (Larkaa) Yasin who is an old friend and a great singer, Mahmood Rahman guitarist of Overload, Beaconhouse National University (BNU) school of Liberal Arts Theatre Film and TV department. I’m spending all my time on this because if there is no system there will be no music left in the country and no places to play.

Instep Today: Will The System restrict shows to the three major metropolises or go for the entire country with live gigs?

Farhad: The events we’re planning will be for TV and web telecast so they will be for the entire country. On ground we plan to have about 400 people. We want to standardise it so we don’t plan to do this in every city, only three metropolises. Out of these little shows will come out bigger shows that we can do in other cities.
Instep Today: Have you been in touch with other musicians on the matter and what responses have you garnered so far?

Farhad: The System is for anyone who’s got potential as well as mainstream bands. I have spoken to almost all influential artists just to get a vibe going. Most have responded positively. Some are happy with doing just advertisements and billboards rather than playing music on a regular basis so they’re not really bothered. I can understand we all need money to make ends meet but the music scene is so bad and almost defunct that I’m just not willing to keep complaining and let it be. There’s a lot of potential in new Pakistan and young budding artists are with me on this.

Instep Today: Where is the funding coming from? Are you investing yourself?

Farhad: My company, Riot Productions, has funded all three events. I’ve made an open offer to all new and some already existing artists who have something new and true to offer. I will record them for free and even do free videos just to set an example of quality and creativity in a budget. We don’t have a billion dollar budget for this but I believe once you start something with good intentions and keep it alive everything comes through. For now Riot Productions will be funding the entire activity. I plan to make it into an ongoing club environment kind of program but The System does need funding to cover overheads and make money for artists, which is our premise.The-band

Instep Today: The plan also includes record deals. You plan to release them via Riot Records. Will your label offer royalty-based deals or lump sum deals?

Farhad: Riot Records isn’t functional yet and its mandate is not to be your regular label that signs every big selling artist.

We want to do compilations and collaborations as well as bring new people to the forefront because I think everyone wants to see progression in music. I think internet release is the future because we all want to be heard. Plus if your regular label isn’t paying bands nor is it funding albums, videos, concerts or promotional activities why deal with them anyway? If they don’t spend money on an artist they are not really bothered about the artist. So if a big artist wants to release music with us he/she can by all means.

We plan to sell these albums at key places like our events and certain hangout spots throughout the country. Prices will be affordable because the purpose is to make music available and heard.
We don’t have budgets to pay artists but we will be recording international quality music and videos for free so that’s enough investment in an artist to start with. Maybe later when we get a structure going. we’ll fund them. All artists will be paid a percentage on sales. They will be made aware of how many CDs are being produced and how many are sold. It will be very transparent and any artist can come check our sales accounts database at anytime.

Instep Today: What about music rights? Will they belong to the artist?

Rights will belong to Riot Records but all endorsements and sales will be made by mutual consent between artists and Riot. Artists are free to play their songs anywhere without our permission. Royalties and dividends will be shared between Riot and the artist because Riot will need to cover overheads at least. This plan is not to nurture Riot but to help in the progression of the music scene and turn it into an industry.