RadioandMusic
| 30 Nov 2021
Fropper.com business head Navin Mittal - Our idea is to bring networking to an online music experience

The online radio space in India has a new entrant. Fropper.com, the social networking site from the People Group has launched a free online radio service with around 15,000 songs available online for starters.

Fropper has set itself the target of expanding its content base to 1,00,00 songs in the next quarter, to meet the needs of its 3.5 million users. The Fropper Music jukebox allows users to rate songs, discover new content, and share music (with other Fropper users).

Among its future plans are personalized radio channels for users and creation of communities and conversations around music in the social network, which Fropper's business head Navin Mittal feels is going to drive the way in the online space in future.

Radioandmusic.com's Shabana Ali caught up with Mittal for an overview of the company's plans in the months to come.


Excerpts:


How has the initial response to Fropper Music been like?

The response is pretty good. We have launched a basic service right now which has interesting features, our users can listen to eight or nine channels created across five languages with seven to eight genres each. We are not only offering them Hindi songs, but we also have Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, hip hop and rock. So, there is enough for a music lover to come and experience. We started with 15000 songs and we have a section which shows who are listening to music and these people can chat with each other. The users can also make their own channels of their music and recommend their channels to their friends.


What was the idea that went behind bringing in music into a social networking site?

The whole idea is to bring networking to an online music experience. In the US, online radio has surpassed terrestrial radio though that's not the case in India. There are thousands of music stations online, but not so yet in India. People spend a lot of time on the Net in India, so all these factors compelled us to make a music offering to our users.


Will Fropper change its image?

Fropper is not changing its image. The whole idea of Fropper music is to bring networking through music. Statistical data indicates that a musical experience is mostly through interaction around music. And when two strangers meet, music is often the topic of discussion. We are a networking site and music is one of the key offerings of our site, it just adds another feature to the social networking.

Would you define Fropper Music as an online jukebox or an online radio station?

See, there is no real difference - they are just different terminology for the services. We call it a channel, someone else can call it a radio station. We have not implemented a live broadcast but a channel system wherein a listener can listen to a channel all over when a person switches it on. Another thing that we have implemented is we can make our own channel by selecting favourite songs in their channel. For now we are not coming up with any live broadcast.

Which are the labels you have tied up with?

We have already tied up with Saregama, Tips, Venus, and regional content providers like Aditya Music, Krunal Music and Sagarika Audio. We are talking with Eros , T-series, Big Music and other small music labels, as also Simca (South Indian Music Association). Universal and Times Music have already joined in, while Yashraj is unclear about their licensing and content. We want to partner with most music labels. This would help them monetize their music consumption.


Was it difficult to convince the music labels to make their music available online?

Instead, let's put it this way, they are open to avenues of monetisation. With the advent of the Internet, we can see that the sales of CDs have already declined. A majority of the music consumed online is pirated, so no money goes back to the intellectual property owners. The music companies have a very good opportunity to learn from what the market wants. They have to partner with businesses that are catering to consumers need and monetize from it. Music consumption is dictated by the consumers and I believe that music companies have to co-opt to that structure.


Which are the licenses Fropper had to acquire?

We had to take licenses from the correct authorities. It's not enough to acquire a license only from the IPRS. If we want to take music from music labels that are not part of PPL and IPRS then we just need to have a tie up with the music label as they own all the publishing rights. For music labels which are part of the PPL and IPRS, we have to get a license from IPRS as they hold the rights for the lyrics and the composition and the PPL which administers the right for the sound recording. So once the license is acquired, we have certain rules on what we can do and what we cannot. Fropper has got the license just to play music so we have to take care that our systems are such that people can't lift music from our site.

What is the revenue share deal with PPL and IPRS?

With IPRS, it's a minimum guarantee and a revenue share deal. With PPL, we've given a minimum guarantee and a pay-per-play deal. So it has different modes or it's a combination but I really cannot disclose the figures we have finalised.


How would the revenue be generated for your site?

There are various models we are considering right now but primarily it's going to be advertising. We can put audio ads before and after the song is played. Other than that, we can put in banners and text plates around the player and the music stations. We can customize the player to suit a brand's style. In future, we can think of ecommerce advertising, we can tie up with a site where a listener can buy the song from another site. We can also include the subscription mode, where the listener is subscribed to a station and they can listen to as much amount of music they want to until they are authorized to.


Fropper has always been promoting social issues. Would Fropper music take up such issues too?



We, in a way, have taken up a social cause by legalising online music. Piracy is one of the biggest problems in music industry. And we will still continue to take up social causes. We have realised that online media is very powerful and with Fropper music, we hope that we can communicate with a larger audience.


Was it difficult to get regional content?

As of now, we haven't encountered such problems, because PPL and IPRs represent a large amount of regional content. Right now, we have the basic catalogue, but as we improve our catalogue we may eventually encounter a problem. When we increase our depth and get into slicing of the regional music and get more relevant with our audience, we may have to deal with this issue. And somehow, we will have to convince the owner of the music that we want to pay for their content and are not selling it illegally and misusing it.

There are a lot of companies that are exploring the online music space. Isn't it getting overcrowded?

It depends. Every business would be crowded and the one who has a better understanding of the business would be able to survive. There are around 10 radio stations in Mumbai and more would be here in some years, only those who are focused would be able to succeed. Fropper.com is about getting people to interact and music is the medium of interaction.

What is the target audience of Fropper, and will old music be available to the audience too?

The target audience of Fropper is the 18-35 age group. Around 60-65 per cent of our audience would be between 20 to 25 years. And then we would cater to the rest. We want to make sure that all people in Fropper.com have something or the other to do on the site, so we would make classic Bollywood available too. We will make sure that there is enough for the audience in Fropper, so we would want our users to tell us what they like and don't like and what kind of genre they want to hear.

Are you getting into any ground events and cross promotions to promote Fropper music?

As of now, there are no such plans for ground events and cross promotions. We are now concentrating on building the service and managing our product. Adding new features is not going to help us. We already have a product that's launched in a unique manner. We want to make the platform and the service more effective. And we believe by virtue of that we will get more audiences. But yes, we plan to do some promotional events in the future.


Can online radio ever surpass FM radio in India?

Well that's difficult to tell, but online radio is bound to have an impact. When you are in office, you cannot listen to FM stations, but you can tune into an online radio station. Similarly, when you are on the move, you cannot tune into an online station. But I think it should find its own spot. . And yes, if GPRS costs come down, then online radio can eat up the market shares of FM stations. But as the industry matures and the options become available, online radio would eat into FM stations' market share.