Face off: Ananya Amin, international manager – India & Middle East, Guvera
EVERYONE likes to download music from the internet but no one wants to pay for it. That has led to a situation where 95% of music downloads around the world is illegal. Australia-based Guvera Ltd found a way to get around this problem when in 2008 it launched its ad-funded model, through which users access and share digital entertainment content in a way that their favourite artists get paid for each file they download. The ad-funded model provides brands with a platform to seamlessly integrate their messages with the content and to target their relevant audience through a proprietary, algorithm-based program. As its website says, for every one hour of the service, a user would see or hear three and a half minutes of advertising. The service can be accessed on the web or through Guvera’s Android and iOS mobile apps.
Guvera recently entered India tying up with major music labels and content aggregators in India, including Sony Music, Hungama.com (T-Series & Speed Records), Universal, Saregama, Eros International, Times Music, Believe, Orchard, TuneCore, CDBaby and INGrooves. It has a library of over 12 million tracks including Bollywood music. Among the brands advertising on its platform are Godrej, Nikon and Croma. In an interview with FE Brandwagon’s Anindita Sarkar, Ananya Amin, international manager—India & Middle East for Guvera talks about the music streaming service and its potential to become a hit with music aficionados in India. Edited excerpts:
What made you decide to enter the Indian market at this point of time?
Given the dynamic ecosystem that exists for music in the country, India is a lucrative market to be present in. Moreover, a major chunk of the music consumption in the market currently takes place through unlicensed channels which in itself represents a sizeable opportunity for new digital services to help users migrate to legal and easy-to-use platforms such as ours. As with all the markets that Guvera enters, we aim to give consumers a free, legal alternative to music streaming. Our ability to collaborate with local labels means that the Indian population are able to listen to the latest, popular local music, free and legally which, research tells us, is what they are looking for.
Moreover, India’s smartphone penetration which currently stands at more than 350 million, presents us with a great opportunity, what with the growing adoption of 3G enabled smartphones and the imminent rollout of 4G services in the country. In addition, the country’s mobile internet user base of 180 million spells a latent opportunity for us as these subscribers will most likely upgrade to smartphones in the days to come.
What is Guvera’s target for India? How do you plan achieve it?
Guvera currently has more than 500,000 active users in India and plans to take that figure up to 1 million. We plan to grow this number on the back of our superior localised content, innovative features and offerings such as branded channels which allow the users to go beyond the realm of music streaming and interact with brands in a more engaging fashion. We’re also focused on rewarding our users through on-ground events and unique experiences. We want to bring the Guvera experience to them in new and exciting ways. For instance, we staged concerts in Singapore and Malaysia; in Jakarta, we organised a Music Run for running enthusiasts and created a special playlist for the event. Similarly in India, we plan to do that through a number of live music cum experiential events in the coming days. Our recent partnership with Harley Davidson for their annual live music event, Harley Rock Riders held in Mumbai was a step in that direction.
What has the advertiser response been for Guvera in India?
In India, Guvera has already partnered with premium brands including Nikon, Croma and Godrej Cinthol. Additionally, we are in talks with many prospective brands to make Guvera a platform for brands to seamlessly integrate music programming with some of their own properties including websites, e-stores, etc. We understand that music, and the artists that make it, are integral to helping connect brands with consumers, and as such, any brand that wants a deeper connection with their consumers, and to align their brand with a platform that enables consumers to engage with brands on their terms will be interested in working with us.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges when it comes to dealing with the Indian music industry?
India is both a dynamic as well as a challenging market for music. The legal music industry in the country is currently pegged at R960 crore and is expected to grow further through a significant, potential increase in digital downloads, internet and mobile consumption and retail marketing. Even as the total market size is expected to grow exponentially through these drivers, the music industry has been able to monetise only up to 10% of the internet consumption, as 90% of the addressable market still belongs to the pirates. This translates into an opportunity as well as a threat for both us and our industry. However, we believe that we have a strong differentiator in our overall product and should be able to garner traction in the market with it.
In terms of content, film music still continues to dominate the local music consumption. We, have therefore, put together a very strong Bollywood selection, which gets updated regularly. Apart from Bollywood, the focus has been on serving up regional music, which has also started enjoying a fairly large listener base.