Artists You Should be Listening to

This a list of artists and series producing new music that I find interesting to follow. I’m often asked which artists people should be listening to, and this list is a way to collect those names. It is also an effort to categorize and organize the music scene to make it legible and understandable. Classification & labeling are the first steps in identifying the diversity of any ecosystem. From there, one can learn to identify things that are related, the nature of those relationships, and allow audiences and artists to understand what is happening.

The artists named below have put out new music in the last two years, and I find their musical output substantial and interesting. Categories, then sub-categories, then artists are sorted alphabetically. Series are in a separate category at the end.

The problem with any exercise like this is that it is an editorialized effort masquerading as neutral. In that this list reflects an opinionated view of the music industry. Both in terms of who is on it and how they are categorized. I expect healthy disagreement. If you find something missing, egregious or have other comments, please do reach out.

It is important to acknowledge that this list is a representation of a classist vantage point. There is a body of music produced and released outside of audio streaming services. Often this is correlated with music produced in languages other than Urdu and Punjabi, from geographies outside of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and catering to predominantly lower socioeconomic classes than many of the artists that make up this list and the audiences that listen to them. I know less about that area of music, but hope to grow my knowledge of it.

I’ll try to keep this list living. Expect additional artists to be added, labeling to get more specific and descriptive, and for artists to be recategorized as they change their style or as we find better ways of organizing things.


Electronic

Dhishkan

Electronica

Hip hop

Pop

Alaap pop

Art pop

Bhangra

Electro pop

Glow pop

Instrumental

Lofi

R&B pop

Vocal pop

Rock

Alaap rock

Alt rock

Metal

Pop rock

Progressive

Qawwali rock

Traditional Desi

Kafi

Qawwali

Contemporary classical

Series

Branded shows

Independent Series

1

Abrar ul Haq makes it onto this list almost purely because of the legendary Bol Qalandar