RadioandMusic
| 21 May 2019
Sitting pretty - Guvera looks to strengthen India bonds

MUMBAI: Ever since its launch in what is perceived to be its current largest market, streaming service Guvera has been patting its back for the impressive growth on the consumer front in a commendably short period.

Expanding to India allowed Guvera to reach to several markets and communities at once - a factor even most of the emerged countries could not provide. The streaming service has completed 18 months of service to Indian consumers, and through pre-launch research and understanding, Guvera's emphasis on the digital front ensured the highest consumer reach among all the 20 nations it caters to. Of the 16 million users globally, the company claims to have garnered seven million plus users in India. With its new marketing head for Asia in place, the emphasis on penetration in the Indian market will continue before Guvera expands to the neighbouring countries.

What worked for Guvera?

The feature 'Brand Channels' , says the company, instantly became a hit among Indian consumers - who historically have preferred to consume content for free - through brand integration that offered consumers and the streaming service a win-win scenario. Several platforms have engaged in similar activities, however, Guvera had a more consumer-centric approach. 'Brand Channels' has escalated Guvera's presence and appeal regardless of the simultaneous growth among the competing streaming services.

The Guvera app provides the consumer added elements to ensure that the user-end experience does not restrict to the music only. The ad-based model focuses on consumers through non-disruptive sharing of content and unique brand channels.

Guvera partnered with Indian Premier League's franchise Mumbai Indians. The franchise's brand channel on Guvera allows the supporters to view fixtures, buy match tickets and merchandise, without quitting Guvera's app. The brand partnership lets the user access the Mumbai Indians app on Guvera's end leading to more traction. With a dedicated playlist by the players, interactions, and other activities, Guvera ensured that while the expansion moved beyond music, the genre of entertainment remains the central theme. The strategy not only helped Guvera in acquiring users with different interests but provided the consumers a reason not to disown the app later, through the provision of content as well as commerce.

"We are giving them content, photo galleries, videos and much more. Music tends to be a very passive activity. Guvera wishes to provide more than that under one umbrella. Users' relationship with Guvera needs to go beyond music," said Guvera chief commercial officer, India and Middle East, Ananya Amin.

India: The Golden Sparrow

The Guvera 3.0 enhances Guvera's goal further, and the average time spend on the app has grown by 22 per cent in a data-sensitive region like India.That Guvera has achieved an impressive figure on the consumers front would not be an exaggeration, nor an earth-shattering revelation anymore. The Queensland-based streaming service outgrew its outreach and potential with the expansion of its services to India. It took 18 months to enter into 20 nations, and another 18 months to enter India's regional pockets. In fact, the other markets for Guvera can act as the 'testing grounds' for Guvera's elaborative initiatives in India. Exhibit A: House of Guvera created a content around Vietnamese female hip-hop artist Suboi for her performance at the VROX festival in Russia, facilitated by Guvera. Its users received the exclusive content from the performance and the House of Guvera plans to replicate the strategy for the Indian musicians.

"For emerging markets like India, we understood the basic hurdles for generating money. But the approach we adopted involved providing music, but legally."

Guvera rightly boasts of its 30 million local and international songs library and the partnerships with regional as well as overseas labels which helped designd a strategy for the company to provide content exclusively for non-Hindi/English data consuming audience.

Converting mainstream consumption to app users

Since its launch in India, the company focused on a digital presence and the scope of growth in smartphone users justify its strategy. For streaming services, the challenge lies in providing content that can hook the audience to the app and the website. Mobile data consumption is no longer a tier-1 city phenomenon, and with 3G and 4G eventually finding strength in the market, the content consumption on the phone would only increase further.

Digital music generates 55 per cent of the overall size of the music industry, however, Guvera ensured the ground presence does act as an extension to the primary motive of converting them to the dedicated app users. Of the 40 million consumers that stream music every month, only 0.5 per cent are paid subscribers. The demotivating statistic was countered with freemium and limited freemium models, but Guvera's solution to the problem was largely based on brand partnerships that resulted in innovations and creating unique content for app users.

For example, Mumbai's annual rock festival 'Harley Rock Riders' partnered with Guvera that allowed the streaming company of a presence outside the digital spectrum. Guvera acts as the native browser for the brands when consumer explores it and has integrated brands' social media pages too.

"So, you are not only listening to their music, you are experiencing it. Listening to music, you can also check Harley's bikes. It does not take you outside the Guvera app. We need to give the consumers alternative content as well. With live shows like Megadeth, we connected to the fans on ground as well."

Similar strategies would be executed in streams beyond music, and Guvera's activities in other emerging markets suggest that lifestyle and fashion are likely to become the organisation's newest targets.

With Guvera 3.0, the brands received freedom to create meaningful content to communicate with their consumers. Amazon had a brand channel with Guvera last year. The brand-funded streaming service partnered with Hungama Digital Entertainment's digital distribution platform Artist Aloud last year for 'World Music Day', a global phenomenon executed in multiple cities involving respective country's biggest musicians.

Technological gameplay

With an intent to understand and help the user to explore relevant content, 'taste profile', for example, would provide a hip-hop music listener with pop-ups of similar music based on the taste and style of music. The concept of native brand channels is a definite win-win factor for the two parties involved. The brand can curate music depending on the respective consumer targets through Guvera, which has also introduced 'advanced buffering' feature that lets the user consume lesser data when the song has been accessed again.

"Guvera is the first music app to partner with Jio’s Switch-and-Walk initiative. It is a program that helps Jio deliver Guvera to 120 stores across the country. Through this partnership, the Guvera app will reach-out to new regions as Jio will distribute the app through its retail and digital platforms."

Till mid-2016, Guvera enjoyed partnerships with over 40 brands globally, and the company hopes to increase the figure to 300-plus before the end of the calendar year. This , Amin hopes, will increase the company's reach to  21 million users (three times more than the current figure) before the end of 2017.