I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Sunday, September 27, 2009

P.S ... The Map To The Goldmine

I wasn't much of a believer in Manna descending from the sky these days, but as The Monkees sang, I'm a believer now. Around two months ago, I stumbled on a goldmine, and not just a tiny prospect up in the mountains where ages of prospecting would ultimately point fruitless. Oh no, what I found was the mother lode to end all mother lodes.

It's called Spotify, and while a complete description can be found here and here, the brief rundown is that it's a streaming music player that lets you play tracks from an immense library of artists and albums, and when I say immense, I mean GINORMOUS!!!

With legitimate deals with the record industry, Spotify lets you access the complete catalogues of almost any artist, from the Stones to Neil Young to Hank Williams to Fela Kuti to ..erm, well to almost anybody I can think of. This in itself is ultrabrilliant, but what clinches the deal for me is that spotify boasts almost the COMPLETE EMI PAKISTAN CATALOGUE !!!!

Starting from the early 50's, there are pristine, high quality recordings of artists as diverse as Maai Bhaagi,the Sabri Brothers, the Fringe Benefits, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Naseem Begum and so forth. In all, 170 of the 206 artists currently listed at EMI Pakistan are at Spotify. The number of old favorites I've heard and the hours and hours of brilliant new music I've discovered is, quite literally the best thing that happened to me since I discovered Dylan.

But as with all treasures, there's a catch. In this case, Spotify is currently only available in  Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain. Although they've promised to make it available over most of Europe and the States pretty soon, the complex licensing issues mean that we can't expect it in Pakistan any time soon.....which is a MAJOR bummer.


I happen to have a way, which it's taken me quite a lot of time and effort to find. It's involved a lot of false starts, frustration and some unexpected help from those guardian angels who lurk quietly in internet forums. It's a slightly convoluted way, and not entirely legal, but for someone who considers p2p an integral right of all those willing and perfectly law abiding folk who can't access their favorite stuff legally through no fault of their own, my conscience is clear.

So if anyone's willing to spend 15 minutes following the trail across a bunch of websites and downloads that ultimately leads to the treasure that is Spotify ,here we go ...

1.Go here, and follow all the pretty simple instructions while you sign up, but here's the first pair of catches;
      Only fill the compulsory fields in the form.
      Follow ONLY the first 5 instructions on the page.

2. This will direct you to the download page where you can download the actual piece of Spotify software, which you install on your PC like usual.

3.Once Spotify's installed, it's practically ready to use, but there's another catch.
     What we've done is registered ourselves as French residents so we can access Spotify, however the software isn't as easily dupe-able as that. It has a built in code that detects the country the user accesses it from. Once it has detected that the user is infact from outside France, it rather goodnaturedly assumes that he has just popped out of France on a trip and will be back in a couple of days. However, this innocent assumption can only be kept up for two weeks. If two weeks after the first login, the user hasn't logged in once from a French IP, the software is blocked/

4. To overcome this is the slightly harder part of the trail, if only for the neophyte. Go here, and click where it says "Download Now For Windows" to download UltraVPN, while you create your account from the link given immediately below the download link. Setting up an account is pretty simple.

5.Once you've downloaded and installed UltraVPN, you'll get a desktop shortcut. Clicking on it will open the program in the bottom-right Taskbar. Right click the icon and click "Connect". This opens a window where you enter the username and password you selected in (4)

 6.It takes an average of about 50 seconds for UltraVPN to connect. What it does is to re-route all your internet data through a server in....you guessed it, France.

7. Once it has connected, you open Spotify, enter your username and password and login, thus bypassing the country detection. After you have logged on, just right-click the UltraVPN icon again and Disconnect.

8. All you have to do is to connect through UltraVPN just ONCE every two weeks, you can login normally otherwise.

9. Enjoy.

10. To a techie, all that I've related above is probably as simple as ABC, but for everyone else, I've tried to simplify it as much as I can so it doesn't take more than 15 minutes to set the whole thing up, and you can trust me on this.... it's a hundred thousand times worth the 15 minutes.

If there's any problem, query or difficulty, please write it in the Comments....although I'm afraid I won't be able to reply for the next month or so what with the exams, but if you're patient, I'll get down to it as soon as I get done.

Cheers !!!


  1. finally did the book tag :/

  2. It's not free anymore is it though... I'm in the UK but it's free by invite only... do you happen to be a premium user or know any such who has got invites left??