Telcos get more gaana as digital music gains currency

By: | Updated: June 2, 2015 3:06 PM

The digital music landscape is currently dominated by three players — Times Internet’s Gaana.com, Bharti Airtel’s Wynk and a lesser-known Saavn run by an NRI Vinod Bhatia — but it’s the fight for leadership between the the first two which is set to take the industry by storm.

The fight between Gaan and Wynk is set to get more intense as the number of smartphone users continue to increase. The fight between Gaana.com and Wynk music is set to get more intense as the number of smartphone users continue to increase.

The mobile app war has now shifted to the music world. The fight for leadership in the R980-crore music market which is now dominated by digital (55% music is distributed through digital channels) is brewing slowly, but intensely. The landscape is currently dominated by three players — Times Internet’s Gaana.com, Bharti Airtel’s Wynk and a lesser-known Saavn (Co-Founder Vinodh Bhat and President Saavn)— but it’s the fight for leadership between the the first two which is set to take the industry by storm.

Sample this: Wynk, a music streaming service run by the country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel, is snapping at the heels of Times Internet’s Gaana. Gaana, which was launched in April 2010, till date has 20 million downloads but is facing tough times protecting its turf as Wynk in a span of eight months since it was launched has notched up downloads of close to 10 million.

The fight between the two is set to intensify considering the potential both have in terms of luring the customers. If Times Internet has the popular radio channel “98.3 Radio Mirchi”, Bharti has a mobile consumer base of around 200 million.

“Music streaming has gained immense popularity due to large scale promotions on mass media. Bollywood music dominates the digital music industry in India. Further, digital music service providers and labels are increasingly going local to include genres such as Bhojpuri, Kannada, Bengali tracks in their catalogue,” said Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment at KPMG in India.

Popularly known as ‘freemium’ apps, both Gaana and Wynk allow free access for limited services or a ‘lite’ version of the app. Users are expected to pay for additional services or a premium version. For instance, Gaana runs a subscription offer of Rs 99 a month, which allow users to download unlimited songs across five devices.

Similarly, Airtel’s Wynk, besides offering a free service, runs a secondary service called Wynk Plus at Rs 99 for Android users and Rs 120 for iPhone users. The service gives users access to unlimited in-app song downloads and play music offline.

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The same service is available at a cheaper rate for Airtel customers for Rs 29 on Android phones and Rs 60 iPhones, respectively.

Analysts believe the fact that customers already have an ongoing billing relationship with telecom operators work in their favour, compared to other providers of digital music content. According to Ficci KPMG report this helps telecom operators to monetise their digital music offerings more easily than other players can. The telecom operators earn not only from increase in data usage but also from the nominal subscription charges for the music streaming services.

Launched in September 2014, Wynk has a catalogue of over 1.8 million songs (Indian and International) which is growing everyday. It is today one of the most popular destinations for music lovers in the country and has received the unique distinction of being featured by Google in the ‘Favourite apps’ section on Google Play Store.

But that has not stopped Gaana from bolstering its services. The app in addition to allowing users to stream music runs programmes from the popular radio channel 98.3 Radio Mirchi. “The reason Gaana stands out because we’ve built the best music experiences for the Indian consumer. The interface is very simple and approachable, and we invest a lot of energy towards building more than  5,000 curated playlists for various situations such as working out, commuting to work, a Friday night party, or a lazy Sunday morning, and 10 RJ programmed 24×7 stations, in partnership with Radio Mirchi,” said Pawan Agarwal, business head, Gaana.com.

The competition between Wynk and Gaana extends to the world of advertising also. Be it on television, print, digital and even radio both Gaana and Wynk hasn’t left any stone unturned when it comes to marketing and advertising.

Agarwal adds that the market that knows about music streaming services such as Gaana is still very small so marketing has played a critical role in exposing the product to users. “Most people don’t realise that it’s possible to have millions of songs available, at any time, on any device. And when they do, they get excited by it. So our focus has been on just spreading that message and raising awareness,” he said.

The fight between Gaan and Wynk is set to get more intense as the number of smartphone users continue to increase. Agarwal of Gaana says that the app will target 100 million active users in the next few years. But with Wynk snapping at its heel to know who eventually notches up higher subscribers, keep watching this space.

The same service is available at a cheaper rate for Airtel customers for Rs 29 on android phones and Rs 60 iPhones, respectively.

Analysts believe the fact that customers already have an ongoing billing relationship with telecom operators work in their favour, compared to other providers of digital music content. According to Ficci KPMG report this helps telecom operators to monetise their digital music offerings more easily than other players can. The telecom operators earn not only from increase in data usage but also from the nominal subscription charges for the music streaming services.

Launched in September 2014, Wynk has a catalogue of over 1.8 million songs (Indian and International) which is growing everyday. It is today one of the most popular destinations for music lovers in the country and has received the unique distinction of being featured by Google in the ‘Favourite apps’ section on Google Play Store.

But that has not stopped Gaana from bolstering its services. The app in addition to allowing users to stream music runs programmes from the popular radio channel 98.3 Radio Mirchi. “The reason Gaana stands out because we’ve built the best music experiences for the Indian consumer. The interface is very simple and approachable, and we invest a lot of energy towards building more than  5,000 curated playlists for various situations such as working out, commuting to work, a Friday night party, or a lazy Sunday morning, and 10 RJ programmed 24×7 stations, in partnership with Radio Mirchi,” said Pawan Agarwal, business head, Gaana.com.

The competition between Wynk and Gaana extends to the world of advertising also. Be it on television, print, digital and even radio both Gaana and Wynk hasn’t left any stone unturned when it comes to marketing and advertising.

Agarwal adds that the market that knows about music streaming services such as Gaana is still very small so marketing has played a critical role in exposing the product to users. “Most people don’t realise that it’s possible to have millions of songs available, at any time, on any device. And when they do, they get excited by it. So our focus has been on just spreading that message and raising awareness,” he said.

The fight between Gaan and Wynk is set to get more intense as the number of smartphone users continue to increase. Agarwal of Gaana says that the app will target 100 million active users in the next few years. But with Wynk snapping at its heel to know who eventually notches up higher subscribers, keep watching this space.

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