RadioandMusic
| 15 Dec 2017
editorial
Sameer Nigam's big challenge at Flipkart's Flyte

MUMBAI: Making its presence felt in the emerging digital market, e-commerce website Flipkart launched its digital music store Flyte in February 2012. Five months after its launch, the company has achieved its first milestone with around 600,000 downloads.

Another major achievement for the company was witnessed last month when Flipkart posted revenues of over  Rs 1 billion. They have also launched android and iOS apps for mobile devices to enhance the music purchase experience. Inspite of the milestones crossed by Flyte and Flipkart, the company claims that it is still at a very nascent stage in terms of sales and has a long road ahead before it becomes the leader in the digital market space.

Flipkart digital VP Sameer Nigam says, “Flipkart crossed Rs 1 billion in revenue last month. If you cosider  that our song track price averages around Rs 10 and the 600,000 downloads in five months, Flyte is aggregating just one per cent of the overall sales right now.”

Offering a complete catalogue of domestic and international content acquired through various leading labels including Universal, EMI and Warner the company which launched with around two million tracks now has its sights set at around 10 million tracks.

Nigam adds, “Our vision and mission for music in India is to set up a one-stop shop for music purchase. We will achieve our target by end this year. We have also recently signed deals with EMI, Warner, Yashraj, Magnasound, Eros and on the independent side with NH7 as well.”

The store also partnered with NH7 to distribute independent music, enabling independent artistes to sell DRM (Digital Rights Management) free albums and singles to fans. The decision met with success as Flyte exclusively launched the band Swarathma into the independent music market propelling it to new heights. While the initiative received a massive response from users, the store aims to expand into the space with similar content offering.

“There is a lot of content from the independent music which is not in any store. Recommendation and discovery is going to be the biggest part of our focus once we have got the basic content in,” he states.

Considering that Bollywood and international music predominantly rules amongst the download list in most digital music stores, Flyte is unfazed by the ongoing trend and continues to tread on a path of its own by working harder to promote the niche genre. The company aims to expand its library to over five million tracks in two months, and offering all the major labels within its catalogue.

Also while the majority of online music sites follow the WAP model, Flyte wants to stay clear of the space as it is not a very convenient option in terms of transaction and retail. “For a person who wants to buy a laptop or music for that matter, the experience is a lot better and richer when you talk about smartphone apps and the web browser. When I think WAP or the channels on the mobile front right now, we are not looking at this route at all. I think the Internet has a lot of opportunity to open up a paid full format content market and that’s the space we will stick with,” he affirms.

With the purchasing power increasing due to  mobile apps, the discovery and recommendation of content remains a constant challenge. Enhancing the experience further, Flyte has a dedicated in-built media player for its apps along with a library manager for completed downloads. There is also a discovery option with a search box to find new content.

Flipkart has already made its mark through online shopping but with Flyte offering ready-to-buy music on the web, it is yet to be seen if it will become the online music destination for listeners or whether it will be a value add for shoppers looking for bargain deals for other goods.

Nigam claims, “If we just wanted to entertain users coming to shop then we probably would have launched a streaming service. The belief is very much that media is going to shift to digital formats in the coming years. We want to make sure that we can start offering the best quality of service to customers today.”

As the company looks to expand its catalogue and further emerge in the coming months, it is also looking at key changes and innovations that need to be inculcated into the purchasing process. “We have learnt that selection is still king for us. People’s willingness to pay is less of an issue today than their ability to pay conveniently. Even on Flipkart one of the challenges that we are trying to address is the whole concept of paying for micro transactions, that is, the six or nine rupee price point. It’s easy enough to pull out a card and do it but its not convenient everytime,” he states.

Commenting on the innovations Nigam adds, “The first step in the innovation cycle was to launch the wallet. Once you have a wallet you can pre-load the money and then you can just keep transacting. The second step was to launch the mobile apps. But discovery remains one of the most interesting areas for innovation.”

Flyte is creating a different user experience for each of its consumers so that they can interact with them at various touch-points offering and recommending them music according to their needs. Making navigation easier and increasing the frequency by promoting new and different content is a major factor determining the increase in revenue. “Right now we are adding more catalogues. I think in the short to medium term we will start recommending content to consumers. Until we have the selection finished, it’s difficult to understand what best to recommend to the user,” he says.

Originally starting off as a B2B company, Nigam’s Mime360 started off on a new path after the merger with Flipkart. The company faced a lot of barriers including lack of transparency, difficulty of broadcasting data across 20-30 websites and the scheduling of releases. But inspite of the merger, the company still continues with its original objective.

“We have been able to give more direction and purpose to Mime360  since we joined Flipkart and its much more reason for labels to share content. So now offering a B2B solution becomes an extension. It was a bit of a struggle starting out but some of the biggest labels supported us extensively like Saregama and Universal. On the other side, we still continue to power sites like in.com, gaana.com, dhingana and Saregama’s own portal with our technology,” he expresses.

Artist Aloud associate VP Soumini Sridhara Paul who came on board as a special ‘Guest Editor’ at Radioandmusic.com’s (RnM) office engaged in a special interaction with Sameer Nigam and contributed to the fifth anniversary celebrations of RnM.