RadioandMusic
| 27 Feb 2021
Anil Srivatsa: " New industry needs a cooperative eco system"

Radiowalla Network Pvt Ltd CEO and co-founder Anil Srivatsa:

Year 2012:

We have two services, Spotradio and Radiowalla. Spotradio is a market leading custom in-store audio creation service and delivery platform that enhances customer engagement and shopping experience for retail chains, corporate and educational institutions.

A) Growth and Revenue: We are in the investment phase for now being a year old service, but it is safe to say that we will achieve operational break even within 12 months with this service.

B) Customers: As on date we are the market leaders in this space in India. We have the largest network of locations with over 4500 contracted for over 40 plus brands.

C) Advertiser Base: The ad revenues have begun to fire up with marketers discovering this new medium to reach consumers minutes before a purchase decision, or in areas where they have to consume the brand message as a captive audience. Over four major FMCG brands have started using our pipes to reach upwards of 100 million footfalls a year. These buys are coming from media agencies and this is very encouraging. Overall, Spotradio reaches over 300mn footfalls a year across the sellable networks.

D) Challenges: Technology standards have been a challenge as each customer has a different IT infrastructure. This has led to our indigenous development of patent filed hardware to bypass this challenge and facilitate quicker service installs. We also had to plan for erratic internet speeds and connections which we have finally done and are now able to offer our service even to the tier 2, 3 and 4 retail markets.

Radiowalla: The direct to consumer radio content service with 30 plus curated music and talk delivered through any internet enabled device through web and mobile apps. This service has a free and subscription offering.

A) Growth and Revenue: We have recently launched this consumer platform with over 27 radio stations created by our competent radio professionals. Our BETA service is about three months old and we are seeing very interesting trends that are proving our revenue models. All streams of revenue have played out in concept and now we need to grow this by targeted marketing and communications. We hope once we begin our market push we will start seeing revenues to goals.

B) Listenership: During this BETA launch, we have seen an upwards of 15000 sign ups, which are steadily increasing.

C) Advertiser Base: All channels on Radiowalla are currently ad free. We do not even serve up the banner ads on our site or apps with a deliberate strategy. Our focus is to increase sign ups amongst special interest communities for whom we are creating the content. Once we achieve critical mass, we will then engage the phase 2. Currently we are only encouraging exclusive channel sponsorships. We have Axe, Maruti Swift and a leading private University that have signed up as exclusive sponsors.

D) Challenges: A major challenge has been getting customer trials purely on viral communications. We have to aggressively market the product to see some mass adoption. Driving traffic from sites like facebook to your own site is also a very important factor which needs a lot of attention.

Music license costs have been the biggest hurdle with music companies not quiet understanding our business model and as a result quoting business debilitating license costs. A new industry needs a cooperative eco system which is not 100 per cent there as yet.

Apart from that, keeping up the interest of current subscribers has been a challenge. So we have started sending a weekly newsletter called Radiowalla Link with highlights of programming on the various channels that will peak the interest of the listener base.

Availability across multiple platforms like PC, Laptops, Netbooks, Mobile operating systems and more has been a challenge we overcame last year with the addition of the Blackberry app due in February 2013. Now Radiowalla.in service is currently available across the web, FB, iOS, Android, Symbian/Java and now Blackberry devices. We do not intend to develop for the Microsoft platform for now as the community is not large enough; so making an investment there is pointless and for a small company like ours, unaffordable for now.

Marketing this product requires a specialized marketing knowledge with the right experience but finding the right candidate for the same has been challenging.

Company Milestones:

Spotradio merged with its nearest competitor this quarter and has created an opportunity to consolidate the market, widening the gap between our nearest competitors by miles. Creation of our weekly newsletter – Radiowalla Link and enabling availability across multiple platforms like android, iPhone, blackberry, symbian, fb and java was also a major success for us.

Conversion to paying customers was a major milestone. Most platforms take several years before they even ask listeners to pay, we have done it within a year with paying customers joining our service on a daily basis.

We also managed to rope in exclusive sponsors for two radio channels – Axe Fresh Radio and Swift Play and got into exclusive content deals with Art of Living, Sri Lanka Premier League, Bangalore Literature festival, CII and more. We are getting into some more similar deals which are currently in the pipeline.

Building 20 plus channels of content across nine languages and 20 plus music genres with a multitasking team and the development of the Spotradio/Radiowalla appliance that will take radio into stores and cars has been another important milestone in our journey.

Competition:

Apps like Hungama and Dhingana are popular, as they allow users to listen to online radio or songs of their choice for free. However, only the android app from Flyte, Flipkart's digital music store, lets you buy and download music directly to your phone. Apps including Shazam and Aweditorium too have in-app purchase models, but they are not very popular in India.

Business of radio:

The business of radio is heading on-line and coming in control of the listener directly. The plan with Radiowalla is to grow the medium by making radio content in all its possible diversity available to special interest groups and communities, and not depend fully on advertising but on user fees. We believe the user will pay for content that is relevant to them and delivered in an uncomplicated manner.

Programming trends:

Listeners are extremely segregated in their tastes and will pay for content of their choice. This is currently not present in traditional radio. Radiowalla.in offers a viable solution and we will continue to add more niche channels for talk including women’s radio, campus radio, comedy radio and more. We also want to give new talent a chance and insert the local element into our music and talk programming, which is our signature content.

Effects of FM phase III:

The yet to-be-announced Phase III FM radio licensing policy is likely to give further impetus to the FM radio industry and open up the sector to licenses for almost 700 new stations across 220 towns. The policy may also allow multiple licenses in a city to a single player and allow radio companies to share back-end infrastructure. But the reserve price will deter new entrants into the industry. There needs to be more frequencies with lesser space between two frequencies.

Drawbacks in FM radio space:

Something that acts as a major drawback for the private FM space is the innovative niche content that is currently unavailable on traditional radio. There also needs to be better bandwidth for digital radio (online and mobile) and user friendly apps for audiences.

Strategies to stay ahead:

We aim to focus more on programming through innovative shows with a localized flavour. Niche channels catering to specific tastes is what we are specializing in and we will continue to do so in the future as well.

Technology focus is also a very important part of our strategy, as we have to stay ahead by keeping technological advancement at the core. This is a digital medium and there are constant innovations taking place everyday. We have to stay ahead by keeping our website, apps and distribution channels in line with the latest advancements or we will get left behind.