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Fishman goes from market stall to musical stardom

Shahid Nazir, the singing fish vendor.

Anton Partridge - record producer

Mark Sutherland - pop music critic

When Shahid Nazir arrived in London from his native Pakistan a year ago, he cannot have imagined where his new life would lead him. Shahid got a job selling fish at one pound each -- that’s $1.60 --  from a market stall in east London.

But from these humble beginnings, Shahid has rocketed to national -- even international -- fame. He has become the latest Internet sensation with a song entitled “One Pound Fish.”

The song has landed him a recording contract. It all began when Shahid’s boss at the fish stall told him to shout his sales pitch to attract customers. Shahid sang instead: “C’mon ladies, c’mon ladies… one pound fish!! Have a, have a look! One pound fish!"

And, he says, his little ditty proved highly popular with the fish-buying public.

“Everyone said your song is so catchy. Your voice is very good. You should be a popstar. The people loved the song and some even said: sing it again or we won’t buy any fish,” says Shahid.

The song quickly reached a wider audience. A customer filmed the performance on his smartphone, uploaded the video to YouTube and 4.5 million hits later, the fish vendor is wallowing in global celebrity. He now has 28,000 followers on Twitter (@Real1PoundFish) and he can hardly believe his good fortune. “I never, never thought that I would one day become famous," he says.

 

 

Cashing in on this instant celebrity, Warner Music signed up Shahid, remixed his vocals with a Bangra backing track and shot a video of him shimmying with scantily clad Bollywood dancers. Warner’s Anton Partridge is cautiously confident about the single.

“I would hope to at least break the Top 40,” says Partridge. “From there, we will start seeing where the record will go.”

But pop music critic Mark Sutherland is not impressed. “One Pound Fish” may have caused a splash on the Internet, he says, but converting that to commercial success won’t be easy. Clicking on a free YouTube video is one thing, persuading people to buy the single is a different matter. Sutherland says Shahid should prepare for disappointment.

“The music business sadly is a precarious place," says Sutherland. "I think if I was him, I’d probably keep the day job on for a while yet.”

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

Anton Partridge - record producer

Mark Sutherland - pop music critic

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Not sure about the criticism. "Real" business? WTF is that? Guy's makin' dough singin' about fish, how it that not business. Also included in the piece were the leeches who make money OFF of him, some insight into how they think.

The guy in the hotel biz was so smart: heads in beds. His point, his ENTIRE point was to think of a hotel as a business. Everyone from the owner to the person there to clean is there for one reason and it is not to please you...unless pleasing you leads to making a gang of money.

Both stories seem to be about business, ahem, real business.

Not sure about the criticism. "Real" business? WTF is that? Guy's makin' dough singin' about fish, how it that not business. Also included in the piece were the leeches who make money OFF of him, some insight into how they think.

The guy in the hotel biz was so smart: heads in beds. His point, his ENTIRE point was to think of a hotel as a business. Everyone from the owner to the person there to clean is there for one reason and it is not to please you...unless pleasing you leads to making a gang of money.

Both stories seem to be about business, ahem, real business.

Not sure about the criticism. "Real" business? WTF is that? Guy's makin' dough singin' about fish, how it that not business. Also included in the piece were the leeches who make money OFF of him, some insight into how they think.

The guy in the hotel biz was so smart: heads in beds. His point, his ENTIRE point was to think of a hotel as a business. Everyone from the owner to the person there to clean is there for one reason and it is not to please you...unless pleasing you leads to making a gang of money.

Both stories seem to be about business, ahem, real business.

Just a note to Sarah Gardner, Stephen Beard, Amanda Aronczyk, and the other reporters and producers of Market Place: if you consider yourselves business journalists you are only fooling yourselves. Tonight Ms. Gardner did a piece on a self-promoting and disgruntled Front Desk simply complaining about his guest. I read the expert of his book posted on NPR.org and I can’t understand why a real journalist would want to be associated with hawking such a vulgar and self-indulgent piece of work. On the subject of self-indulgent and self-promoting I endured Mr. Beards reporting on the latest one hit wonder titled “One Pound Fish”. One question Mr. Beard, Why? And because bad things come in bunches like grapes Mrs. Aronczyk apparently didn’t feel challenged by the solid reporting that originated with the Philadelphia Inquirer and instead gave us a dumb down sympathy piece on a car thief with 25 convictions who, after 14 years in and out of jail, still believes society owes him a living. I understand the need for stories to be entertaining but please, have a little respect for your listeners if not yourselves and provide some real business reporting.

Just a note to Sarah Gardner, Stephen Beard, Amanda Aronczyk, and the other reporters and producers of Market Place: if you consider yourselves business journalists you are only fooling yourselves. Tonight Ms. Gardner did a piece on a self-promoting and disgruntled Front Desk simply complaining about his guest. I read the expert of his book posted on NPR.org and I can’t understand why a real journalist would want to be associated with hawking such a vulgar and self-indulgent piece of work. On the subject of self-indulgent and self-promoting I endured Mr. Beards reporting on the latest one hit wonder titled “One Pound Fish”. One question Mr. Beard, Why? And because bad things come in bunches like grapes Mrs. Aronczyk apparently didn’t feel challenged by the solid reporting that originated with the Philadelphia Inquirer and instead gave us a dumb down sympathy piece on a car thief with 25 convictions who, after 14 years in and out of jail, still believes society owes him a living. I understand the need for stories to be entertaining but please, have a little respect for your listeners if not yourselves and provide some real business reporting.

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