RadioandMusic
| 14 Nov 2019
Net gains from music

If you thought listening to music online was only about raaga.com and musicindiaonline.com, think again.

A clutch of new players have upped their ante in the last one year or so, each one playing a different tune on the Internet. It's no longer about playing the latest Hindi chartbuster; sites like radioverve, splitradio and indiabeat are on a mission - to popularise lesser known music and to promote unheard musical talent from various corners of the country.

Then there are the other players who have entered the Internet music space recently with a view to marry music with social networking - dating site fropper.com changed its colours a few months ago to become a music networking site; minglebox.com offers a similar package.

With scant promotion except word of mouth and often, scantier resources at hand to promote the sites, these sites are on a mission to reach to the audience they want to with the kind of music it desires.

Indiabeat.com's co-founder Samiran Gupta acknowledges, We found that the Indian music scenario is very complicated. All other forms of music are sidelined thanks to the dominance of Bollywood music. People here may not be aware of other forms of music that exist in our county, but it has a huge demand abroad....

So, while the self acknowledged 'home of Indo fusion music' offers a 24 hour internet radio station playing indo-fusion music from the 60's to the present, it promotes artistes like Sanjay Mishra, Bickram Ghosh, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya and Clem Alford. The listeners are pouring in, from countries as varied as Bermuda, Turkey, Argentina and Latvia.

Agrees Radio Verve's co founder Gaurav Vaz, "Internationally, people are very keen on knowing the various musical talents in India. Radio Verve is a platform for the unknown artiste and also a place to discover undiscovered music and musicians." So, his site, which proclaims itself to be the only place on the Net for the best of independent music from India, offers genres as diverse as gospel, metal and Konkani!

Social networking sites like fropper.com and minglebox.com target a different audience altogether. Research having proved that music often forges strong bonds even among strangers, both sites have morphed to help listeners discover music through social networking.

The main topic of discussion amongst two strangers has always been music. The Fropper team has thought on those lines and launched the basic setup for our audience now. Fropper users can always tune into music when they are blogging or chatting and this is more as an added feature to our site,... says fropper.com business head Navin Mittal. At any given time, users can listen in to latest hits from Singh is Kinng or Kismat Konnection, or even Telugu hits, Bangla Gaan, Carnatic Sangeet or Sufi, and start discussions with like minded users on the same pages.

Not surprisingly, blogs and social networking sites like orkut, facebook and myspace are emerging like a boon for the independent label too.

Radio Verve does exactly that. We bring social networking through our blogs and communities in orkut, facebook and myspace. They also form a good interactive platform where we get to know new musicians and talents across the globe,... says Vaz.

Then, there's another player - Split Radio, which is an extension of the music oriented Split magazine and does not use any other platform to network. The Split radio website has its own section, where musicians can upload their songs and use the site's blogging platform to promote their music. The site, that calls itself 'An Internet radio station exclusive to bands from the Indian subcontinent', promotes bands and artistes like Da Saz, Avial and Antim Grahan, the ideal home for independent bands that would otherwise not find a supporter on the Net. It has sections allowing artistes to upload their music, and it is divided into different shows, that encourage interaction.

Neither Splitradio, nor Radio Verve or Indiabeat are bogged down by royalty issues, playing as they do unlicensed original music. Minglebox and Fropper on the other hand, have had to acquire proper licensing from the IPRS and PPL for the content they play which is mainly mainstream Bollywood.

It is more important for an unsigned artiste to make his name," reasons Split Radio's founder Arun Kale. "The music we play is not copyright protected and the other artistes, which are signed, are under individual record companies....

But if these sites do not pay, some of them are not earning much either. Both Radio Verve and Split Radio would like to monetise their content by generating advertising revenue, but so far, have been dipping into their own pockets for sustenance.

Our main aim is to monetise from advertising revenue. Music in social networking sites is more as an added feature for our users. A subscription model would not be a good idea for a social networking site like ours,... says Minglebox co-founder Kavita Iyer.

Says Indiabeat's Gupta, We would like advertising on the site, but we are also looking forward to generate revenue from CD sales and on ground events.... Gupta has, along with the site, launched an independent label dedicated only to Indo fusion music. In April this year, it entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with EMI Virgin, and now, Indiabeat's new offering, Sanjay Mishra's Blue Incantation featuring Jerry Garcia has entered Planet M's Top 10 World Music list.