| 18 Jul 2024
Myopusradio founder Gina Braganza - It was a challenge to start an internet radio station in India

India's first multiple channel internet radio station for international music, will complete a year this month. Launched with a single channel in October 2008, myopusradio expanded with eight more channels in February 2009 and is experiencing growth in listenership's Anita Iyer caught up with Myopusradio founder Gina Braganza in Pune at the National Radio Meet two weeks ago. In a freewheeling chat, Braganza spoke about exploring the potential of internet radio in India, revenue avenues and the steady growth in listenership for internet radio.

We bring you the excerpts -

Opusradio would be completing a year this October. Can you go back and tell us how you started?

Opusradio is essentially a brand extension for our independent music venue, Opus. Opus has always being a platform for independent new talent in Bangalore and it was a natural extension to explore this area. The idea was to give genre specific music to music lovers  

It was a challenge to start an internet radio as it was an untapped sector in India and the potential was unknown. We invested in developing the software, we wanted a software which could run a radio station, handle everything from database management, create and programme a channel, how to stream music on internet and log listenership 

We indigenously built the software and thought of various ways to push the channel by building Facebook applications and started doing on-ground events. We did our bit of marketing to create awareness about the concept of internet radio.

As you conceived the software, would you be allowing others to use the same?

As we own the software, we can permit people to use our infrastructure and royalty rights for a fee so they can set up their own internet radio stations. We are looking at building internet radio as a platform and  can assist others to run a programme an create a channel determined by them.

Starting with one channel last year, you introduced nine channels this year?

We started out with a single channel with an hour based format like FM radio for 24 hours. Later, we went on to launch nine channels, each dedicated to a different genre. Currently, we have stations for Jazz, club music, country music, rock and roll, blues, retro, easy listening etc. and the listenership has been growing.

Can you dwell on the growing listenership?

With 4000 listeners in the start of this year, today we have 15000 plus listeners and time spent listening on our website is also increasing gradually. As of July, our numbers have dramatically increased, but this is just the tip of the iceberg because currently 90 per cent of our listenership comes only from Bangalore. As we push into phase 2, we would tap into and capture urban audiences from across cities in India. Also, we are still only offering what is considered a niche medium in India – western music. This will change.

The music on is for free streaming. Do you plan to have a subscription model in future?

There is no registration and subscription because at this stage we want the radio to get popularised. The idea is not to charge the listeners but get money from advertisers who look at these listeners as target audience. We are not yet propagating internet radio abroad, but we intend to do that 

How much do you spend on royalty and how is the royalty determined?

Our server is based in the United States and we pay royalty on the basis of time spent by listeners on the website. The amount towards royalty is not more than 15,000-20,000 rupees a month according to the time spent by listeners today but as the listenership grows, we might have to invest more. There are some restrictions with the current royalty provider and we are applying for another royalty provider.

Can you elaborate on the restrictions of the royalty provider?

The current royalty provider is not very expensive but very limiting  It insists that their URL be shown in the address bar and therefore does not allow the use of widgets  which would allow us to plant the radio player on popular websites to increase listenership. The royalty provider also does not technically allow us to stream legally on mobile phones. Now we are applying to a royalty provider who is more expensive but allows us to use music more intelligently 

How do you plan for pitching in advertisers?

We are pitching for qualitative listeners, the listeners consuming music certainly belong to a target group preferred by the advertisers. Also, our listenership hours mainly constitute  working hours, contrary to the listenership of FM commercial radio where the primary listening hours are peak hours in the mornings and evenings. The internet radio fills the gap of commercial FM radio for advertisers. Also, when we start programming for the west, the radio would be played for throughout the clock in some country and would thus increase the scope of revenue generation.

Also an FM channel has 24 hours to sell but an internet radio has 24 hours multiplied by the number of channels it creates, thereby increasing our revenue avenues 

We are looking for partners who would add value to internet radio. As our listenership is still growing, we need to have a substantial listenership to be in a better position to bargain. We are targeting a hundred thousand listeners and will reach there in a few months 

What are the other revenue generation opportunities for opus radio?

Internet Radio offers you a visual medium via the web site and an audio medium via the stream. Hence the revenue avenues are website based and audio stream based. Finely tuned programming ensures finely tuned audiences which can be easily tracked. As we have genre specific channels, a brand looking out for listeners belonging to a specific genre can specifically advertise on a genre specific station. Artists coming from abroad wanting to communicate with music lovers of specific genre can target them at Opusradio.

Also the approach in the long run is to sell channels/stations rather than spots and banners alone like Bacardi Club, Black Dog Jazz etc. Also there is lot of opportunity to be explored in the retail model.

Can you talk about the retail model and other options available?

In the retail model, we can get brands like Lee, McDonalds, Coffee Day etc to create their own channels/stations to play the same music at all their outlets. This can further be tailored per city with specific messaging and promotions. Corporate Intranet Radio can also be explored where large corporations can have few dedicated music channels with corporate messaging – referral programmes, contests to engage employees. These channels can have training programmes, workshops, tech talks, corporate news etc. Colleges can have College Radio similar to Corporate radio with the emphasis on colleges. We have initiated dialogue with a few colleges and there are number of brands interested in the youth, so we need to build a base 

How can you work in tandem with commercial FM stations?

We foresee integration of commercial FM stations happening on our website. A commercial station operator has many networks specific to regions and it would make sense for them to run its station at a single place for streaming all the stations  

What are the issues restricting the potential of internet radio in India?

The main issues in India are internet penetration and quality of broadcast because of low bandwidth. We can have numerous channels, each micro catering to a specific radio need of the listener, as opposed to creating only one channel and trying to cater to all listeners, so there is a long way to go for internet radio.

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