RadioandMusic
| 26 Sep 2018
Hungama leads digital pack in partnership spree

MUMBAI: The music streaming industry has evolved from just a pure play, ad funded business model to new technological innovations, partnerships with telcos and cab services, pro/premium subscriptions etc.

With ever increasing smart phone penetration and affordable data plans, India seems to be a lucrative market for this business. While existing players like Saavn, Gaana and Hungama have been battling for market share, foreign players have also made inroads. The likes of Guvera launched in 2014, Apple being the latest entrant and the buzz about industry pioneer Spotify entering the Indian market are now raising alarms for the incumbents. The key differentiator for any service or product is the experience and price points offered to the consumer. Having a huge library is just not enough, music being a part of our daily life, the mantra of being heard is to exist everywhere a consumer puts his finger on – be it a bank website, his car or even a cab ride.

Recently, Saavn which crossed 18 million users launched the service on Windows 10 platform with the vision of integrating its Android, iOS and Windows apps so that the app works on all platforms. For Saavn, network optimisation and content aggregation are two main focus points in order to adapt to the Indian market. On the content side, Saavn launched the much talked about original series earlier this year.

Banking on the partnership strategy, Gaana struck deals with Micromax last year and another one with Uber recently. According to the deal, Micromax will integrate the app onto its devices which vastly increases Gaana’s user base as Micromax is one of the leading smartphone makers. With the Uber collaboration, Gaana aims at providing uninterrupted music experience covering the in-car entertainment segment.

Australian player Guvera which entered the Indian market in November 2014 follows a different business model where it uses content cum e commerce platform for monetisation. Guvera’s idea is that of promoting various brands through its app, making it a free to use for consumers and monetising through the brand promotions. According to a Hindu Businessline article, Guvera works with works with 30-plus brands, including Amazon, Yes Bank, McDonald’s and Harley Davidson. Foraying into the regional, Guvera most recently tied up with Kerala based Music 247 and Chennai based Amara Muzik.

Leading the innovation and partnering game plan, Hungama Digital seems to be the most aggressive. Hungama has covered all possible areas like banking, Incar and Telcos. The leading app which boasts of a 67 million plus active users has established an arrangement with ICICI wallets also known as POCKETS, where in with every transaction on POCKETS, the user gets Hungama subscription free for a month. Hungama’s music page is even integrated onto ICICI bank’s website as also HDFC's. Hungama music content is present for the users to buy content either through loyalty points or by paying per song. ‘There is a fairly large amount of loyalty points lying with banks and we are helping create an avenue to redeem these points with our digital goods. The bank's customers (when they use their cards for purchases) get cashback in the form of points which they can again use to buy digital goods like a song, music video, movies, etc In fact we have patented Gamification, with this consumers are rewarded for actions performed while using the Hungama services, they can then redeem these points to buy these digital goods’, explained Siddhartha Roy, CEO - Hungama.com.

Moving to the Incar entertainment segment - Hungama’s collaboration with Jaguar LandRover’s InControlTM Apps platform developed in conjunction with Bosch, transfers the interface from the phone to the in-car infotainment touch-screen, to allow users access to popular apps, thus significantly enhancing user experience. The India-customised version of the platform will feature Hungama as the entertainment app for the car brand’s patrons. The move marks the first time that Hungama will be available in-car and continues to build on the many firsts for India’s leading music destination. ‘Hungama drive is an automobile app for Jaguar Land Rover cars where once the user is in the car the car headset manages his music’ Roy added.

In the telco space, Hungama recently launched exclusive entertainment service for MTNL’s broadband consumers in Mumbai and Delhi. The service is available to MTNL broadband users at mtnl.hungama.com and as part of this service users can access the latest music, movies, videos and games while availing various entertainment packages.

The latest announcement came in last fortnight with Hungama adding the best of Telugu content from the South’s biggest entertainment conglomerates – Sun TV Network and Maa TV. With this acquisition and more in the pipeline, Hungama Play reiterates its focus on South Indian markets also making it the largest Telugu catalogue in the app ecosystem. Hungama Music has also tied-up with SIIMA - South Indian International Movie Awards, for the second consecutive year. SIIMA will be simulcast exclusively on Hungama Play. Subscribers will also be privy to behind the scenes action from the SIIMA event. Known for its large and comprehensive regional library, Hungama Play aims to further expand the library by adding over 300 Telugu films from the Maa TV catalog along with future releases and over 220 films from the Sun Network library across all 4 Southern languages.

Says Hungama’s Roy, “While the four south Indian languages constitute 38% of overall content consumption in India, Telugu is the third most consumed language on our app after Hindi and English respectively. Hence our association with market giants - Sun TV Network and Maa TV and our partnership with SIIMA further strengthens our resolve to deliver a unique experience to the Telugu speaking audience in their native language.’

Roy believes that these endeavours will create great value for consumers and also act as key differentiators from its peers. Apart from these deals, Hungama also has partnerships with Xiaomi, Karbonn and Le Eco as well, wherein the app is bundled with the device thus increasing Humgama’s user base. Roy also stressed on the importance of innovation in order to grow in Indian market. Dependence on ad revenue alone is not enough and there is a need to convert users into paying customers. As India is still a very minimal plastic money dependent nation, Hungama has created micropayments systems so through various telecom or online wallets. There is a strong belief the consumers are willing to pay for music in a structured manner, it is the industry that needs to create the right kind of value and infrastructure. As India’s digital economy is still growing there would be many opportunities and challenges but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.