Go with the stream

With changing trends in music listening habits,a number of websites now allow users to stream songs.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published: June 11, 2013 3:26 am

When- Flyte,Flipkart’s music download service,announced its closure last week,the company attributed it to the average Indian listener’s reluctance to purchase music online. The statement issued by Flipkart indicated that

Indians haven’t warmed up to online payment services and that music piracy hugely affects the business.

Perhaps,Flipkart got its business model wrong. A large section of the audience has indeed shifted towards new media,consuming music on the internet rather than traditional mediums such as television and radio. To cater to this lot,a number of music streaming websites have emerged. They legitimately source content from music companies but don’t charge the consumers for streaming. However,this doesn’t imply that the website is being shortchanged in the process — the advertisers bring them revenues,a share of which then goes to the music companies.

“The trend of listening to music online has taken over and digital options such as streaming websites are a good way to reach out to listeners,” says Adarsh Gupta,Senior Vice President,Sa Re Ga Ma. Some such popular websites include saavn.com,gaana.com,and dhingana.com where one will find the latest Hindi film songs released officially before anywhere else. With this,the trend where music would only be available with the official launch of the CDs is now a thing of the past.

“The industry has seen a downfall in the physical sales of music CDs. Logistically,the physical release of a CD is an expensive affair today as space and distribution has turned to be more tedious. The internet,instead,has provided the music industry across genres a wider reach,” says Bhushan Kumar,CMD,T-Series. Take for instance Gaana,which records 4.2 million users every month. An average listener at Saavn,on the other hand,spends six hours per month.

What makes online streaming work despite music piracy is the instant access to high-speed internet,triggered by the smartphone boom in recent times. “People have realised that instead of downloading songs from illegal websites,they would rather listen to the streaming,” says Paramdeep Singh,Co Founder and Executive Chairman of Saavn. It also does away with the hassles of downloading and limited storage of hard discs. Besides,websites today provide a personal listening experience that includes playlists and song recommendations.

A key feature in these websites that especially helps songs go viral is the integrated sharing option with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. “The chances of something rapidly being shared and becoming a trend or going viral is very high online. That gains the music visibility and increases the audience’s awareness towards it,” says Avinash Mudaliar,Business Head,Gaana.

Legitimising the availability of music online,says Gupta,is also the only way to combat piracy. Sites are coming up with innovative revenue-generating ideas that would maintain the interest of music

companies and the Indian

consumer.

Saavn,for example,provides detailed data to the music companies that help them

assess their impact in various regions of the country. “If the music of a certain performing artiste gets consumed in huge numbers from a specific region,it gives a great insight into identifying their actual consumers,which further helps in designing future strategies,” says Singh. His website has also come up with a middle-path to address the Indian music consumer’s non-paying habits: an application that enables downloading songs from its site with a nominal monthly charge. And to counter his allergy towards inconvenient online payment methods,he has tied up with telecom companies. “The charge will be included in their monthly telephone bill,which they pay anyway,” says Singh.

sankhayan.ghosh@expressindia.com

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