| 18 Jul 2024
Smule's approach and manifestation will be localised to suit the Indian palette: Viral Jani, Times Bridge

Smule is a leading social network for music that connects the world through a global community of 50 million monthly active users. It has been brought to India by Times Bridge and is also their working partners.

Times Bridge is a leading investments firm that is on a mission to bring the world’s best ideas to India and share India’s best insights with the world. To know what Smule did in 2018, and what its plans are for 2019, Times Bridge Senior Vice President Viral Jani gave us some insight in an exclusive interview.

Since its foray in India, how has the year 2018 been for Smule?

Smule became available in India along when the Smule family of apps on the app stores across the world. 2018 was a very exciting year for Smule in India. Times Bridge announced its strategic investment in Smule to drive growth in India. With a strong user growth, India ranks among the top three markets for Smule. Smule community is arguably the most engaged fans of music you will find anywhere. As a part of driving localisation, 15 plus popular Indian music artists across Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Punjabi other Indian languages officially joined the platform to engage with the Smule community through the sing along feature on the app. Other major partnerships were also activated with movies, reality shows Indian Idol and Radio Mirchi Smule Mirchi Cover Star.

Smule collaborated with 15 plus Indian artists along with Armaan Malik. Will we get to see a lot more action in 2019?

2019 started with an exciting partnership with Fox Studios as we brought alive the title track of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga through Darshan Raval. We plan to scale the movie led partnerships for songs as a big way to bring contemporary; trending music to the Smule community. Similarly, we will be partnering with music labels, reality TV shows, radio stations and brands, which are musically inclined in their approach to connect with their consumers. As a result of these partnerships, we will be on boarding both established names and emerging artists across Indian languages. These artists will be singing a mix of film-based music as well independent songs.

How did the deal with Times Bridge help Smule’s establishment in India?

Smule as a product has a natural product fit with the Indian market. Times Bridge through its team of experts across functions, is working on making Smule culturally relevant for the Indian market. This is happening across functions including brand marketing, product marketing, community development and partnerships. Times Bridge and Smule partnership in India hit the ground running as five big initiatives were taken within the first 100 days. We see that this momentum will continue to build in 2019 and beyond.

What really did not work and simultaneously worked in your favour in 2018?

I don’t think there was anything in particular that did not work for Smule in 2018. However, India is a vast market and there are multiple opportunities coming our way. We have to prioritise the ones, which are the biggest and best fit for the platform. We are open to collaborate with local partners who help us scale in our efforts to reach as many musical fans for Indian music across the world.

What is your marketing strategy for 2019?

Smule is a global brand and its global nature will remain intact in its marketing activities in India. However, the approach and manifestation of this global messaging will be localised to suit the Indian palette. You will see many India focussed marketing activity to drive branding building, brand recall, growth and support activities. We will be creating activations across digital, social and traditional media as a part of our plans in 2019. One common theme you will notice in all the marketing activities for Smule in India is that it will be all linked back to strong product activation led activities on the platform, which in turn will drive user growth and engagement.

If you could let us know if there are any changes when it comes to the content?

Songs and the musical content have already been highly localised. You will continue to see augmented focus on local content from across Indian languages, in addition to the global content which is accessible for music fans on the platform. The type of content will range from movie-based music to independent tracks.

Can you give us a gist of your plans for 2019?

We have a three-pronged approach for Smule in India. Smule has the most engaging music community across any platform. We want to continue engaging with the community through social media and offline activations. We want to nurture the Smule’s own singing superstars and bring recognition to their talent.

We want to bring the music fans on Smule closer to their favourite singers by on boarding more and more artists on Smule, from across various parts of the country. We also engage with various stakeholders in the music industry at scale by driving partnerships with music labels, movie studios, brands, TV shows and Radio stations. Smule is a unique platform, which can give an opportunity to create connect between the Indian music community and rest of the world.