Phub Dem

The distribution of music has changed drastically over the years: from audio cassettes to compact disc and digital platforms such as Spotify and Soundcloud. This has also changed how musicians and artists are paid.

Music artists in Bhutan depend solely on international platforms and films, earning little or even nothing.

However, Zhabthra, an online music and music video streaming application to connect listeners with the musicians, could come as a benefit to Bhutanese music artists.

Zhabthra is a blend of Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

The new startup venture aims to build professionalism and an independent community for music artists. The team aspires to establish a standard and a world-class streaming platform to accommodate users from across the world.

Zhabthra’s founder, Kencho Tshering, is a disc jockey (DJ). Having worked in the music industry for years, he came up with the idea.

Besides singing and making music for films, he said that music artists in Bhutan do not have a stable source of income and make a living out of it. “It is difficult for an artist to pursue a career as a full-time musician.”

The application uses a pay-per-use and subscription model where the customer pays for usage on demand. He said that the price will be minimal, around Nu 25, and the artists would benefit from the application through incentives and royalties. “Users and listeners have to subscribe to access the application, which will cost around Nu 299 for three months.”

Kencho Tshering said that 60 percent of revenue will be given to the artists, besides providing free recording and music video productions, depending on the content.

The platform will have different genres such as songs from the 60s, modern songs, and chants and prayers. It will also have a profile of the artists with new releases.

The application is mainly for musicians and composers. The digital platform will also revive old music and include them in the database.

Bhutanese artists have been uploading their content on international platforms such as Soundcloud, Spotify, and YouTube.

Without a future in the music industry, he said that many artists were discouraged and stigmatised for taking up music as their career. “Zhabthra aims to streamline the music industry and help artists make a living out of their passion.”

He added that for a new artist, to upload their content online is expensive.

Zhabthra will also host a music award at the end of the year, which will be judged from the views, listeners, and followers on the platform.