Smule is broadly a singing karaoke app which is popular among users across age groups.
Smule’s customer profile is fairly well-distributed between metros & non-metros Audio OTT Smule, which forayed into India in 2016, claims that users in the country spend on an average 57 minutes daily on the platform. The San Francisco-based company, which inked a strategic partnership with Times Bridge in India in 2018, is positioning itself as a social platform for music. Viral Jani, senior vice-president, investment operations at Times Bridge, speaks to FE’s Asmita Dey about Smule’s India strategy. Excerpts:
What is your business model and how do you monetise it?
Smule is broadly a singing karaoke app which is popular among users across age groups. Users can create collaborations with their friends and community members. The app also on-boards popular music artists and users can sing with them. Further, users can create group experiences. Up to 10 people can sing in one video. Smule is a freemium app. Users can download it from the app store without paying any charge. Certain features are available on the app for free. However, if a user wants to create his own solo performance and want others to come and sing along with him, then he will have to pay. We have seen that some of the free customers eventually turn into paid customers.
How many subscribers do you have at present?
Globally, the platform has 40 million monthly active users. In percentage terms, bulk of our users are free. But, we do have a significant chunk of users who pay.
How are you positioning your brand and who are your competitors?
We believe that Smule is a social platform for music. It is all about creating social interaction and bonds via music. It is a very unique space that we operate in and we are complementing all other social platforms in some way or the other. A lot of users on Smule create content and share it on their social platform. We are not competing with social apps or streaming platforms as we have a very different use case. People are here come to collaborate and sing with popular artists. The engagement on the platform is extremely high. In India, users spent 57 minutes daily on an average on the platform everyday.
Is the traffic on your platform skewed towards the metros?
We have users ranging across age groups like any other platform. The customer profile is fairly well-distributed between metros and non-metros. We are increasingly seeing interest from smaller towns for platforms that are democratising content. In terms of the language mix, Hindi is dominant.
How do you plan to scale up the business, going ahead?
There is one bucket which is on-boarding popular artists and we already have more than 35 artists on our platform. This helps us create a lot of buzz. Secondly, we have a very strong community play. We encourage a lot of community members to create offline experiences and we also have Smule community meet-ups that happen in various cities. The third bucket is engaging with various industry partners to create diverse experiences for users. For instance, we collaborated with Mirchi Music Awards to launch a cover star talent hunt, creating a record of sorts with over 35,000 participants.
Are there any funding plans on the anvil?
For now, we have enough firepower to grow our business. From a three-to-five year perspective, we seem pretty set.