Bhutan’s music industry is mainly driven by passionate young singers and musicians, composing and producing their owns songs and music. There is a limited scope to earn and make a career out of it. The music streamed in the international platforms, like Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube, has not made much of an impact to uplift the industry.
Kencho Tshering, 36, is a music enthusiast since his school days. His passion for music led him to choose a career as a disc jockey (DJ) for 18 years and counting. Nowadays, Kencho has his sights set on making use of technology to help build a flourishing music industry that could support local artists.
The idea for Zhabthra App was conceived in 2016, and through so many trials and errors, the Zhabthra App was launched on 10 December 2022. Over a month since its launch, the App has currently 4,009 subscribers with almost 23,000 web portal visits.
The App has managed to pique the interest of Bhutanese residing in other countries, especially those in Australia and India having subscribed to the Zhabthra App.
With over 125 artists officially signed with Zhabthra, the earnings will be divided where artists will receive 70 percent of the profits. Currently, popular artists, like Chogo and Lungten Wangchuk Karma, have been signed.
The App has its own web portal site, which ranks the artists based on numbers of streams received. According to Kencho, it will be something similar to the Billboard charts that rank the artists and songs. Zhabthra will rank Hot 10 songs, Zhabthra 50 chart and Artist 10 chart.
Till now, local artists were unable to commercialize their songs to help earn a living. Now, they have a chance to earn an income through the App.
The founder of the App, Kencho, hopes the Zhabthra App will act as a catalyst to a flourishing music industry. He said, “I want to help reach Bhutanese music across international industry. I want it to push our music industry, and benefit our burdened local artists. It will act as a music distributor even for international platforms.”
Zhabthra is not only a streaming platform but a hub of opportunity for aspiring artists. Zhabthra will be signing aspiring young artists that are capable of producing their own music, and will act as a platform to be able to earn and find a career in the music industry. So far, about 15 new artists have been signed and will be making their debut.
According to Kencho, the App will be a benefit to many. “From this App the artists and videographers will be benefitted, and will bring an independent music platform for both the listeners and artists.”
Zhabthra App offers a never seen before streaming style, in terms of songs, music video and karaoke version. With a subscription rate that is cheaper than other OTT platforms, Zhabthra App has now integrated about 864 songs of artists, and will be integrating more.
Zhabthra App seems like a step in the future for the music industry, and although in its initial stage, the App has plans to host award ceremonies for artists, and will also be producing and streaming podcasts too.