| 20 Jul 2024
Music streaming war gets serious across mediums

MUMBAI: Last year was an interesting one for music streaming businesses in India. It started with reports of Dhingana shutting down (with no clarity on its M&A status then), raising doubts around music streaming in India. But then in March, the huge announcement of Rdio acquiring Dhingana came along. It was sort of a wake-up call for Indian music streaming services. 

Not long before that, Saavn released a sneak-peek of its alliance with Ranbir Kapoor in its ‘Here’s to the Music’ campaign which went live in February 2014. US headquartered Saavn- primarily focusing on Indian and Bollywood content, followed it with an announcement of its creative partnership with Kapoor. Then in August, a 30-second commercial was aired on TV, along with billboards and theatrical ads.  

Around the same time, Hungama, India’s on-demand digital entertainment storefront, announced its partnership with Scarecrow Communications, which was followed by a campaign- ‘Zindagi ka Sound Track’. For the campaign, Hungama roped in Hrithik Roshan, who offered a voice-over for the company’s TV commercials. The service then got aggressive with its campaign, with prominent OOH, and digital and radio promotions. The Hungama ad was aired on various TV channels, and over a course of time, the VO was dubbed in Telugu and Kannada, as the service aimed at reaching out to users in Southern India as well. The digital entertainment company then launched another feature called ‘multi-lingual transliteration', which was available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi along with English. CEO Siddhartha Roy said, “The campaign was the typical ad cycle we carried out in the month of October and November, followed by three months of not being on air. Our ad campaign got over on 15 of November.” In November, when Hungama rolled out its first ad, the service saw 40 per cent growth in terms of download and consumption. 

While various streaming services were churning out campaigns, international music service Guvera stepped foot in India. Not to be outdone by its competition, Gaana introduced its ‘Bas Bajna Chahiye Gaana’s campaign. Times Internet VP and head of marketing Pratik Mazumder added, “The campaign intended to get consumers to download our mobile app and establish Gaana as a strong player in the category. Both these objectives have been met with nearly 150 per cent growth in downloads and strong visibility across mediums.” The Times Internet service brought in Amit Trivedi to compose, and Benny Dayal and Anusha Mani to sing the jingle. The commercial was aired on TV channels and was also pushed as an audio track across platforms like Youtube. 

Another service to launch its campaign was Airtel’s Wynk, with a TVC developed by Taproot creative agency, for which Sameeruddin provided music. It has over 1.8 million Indian and International songs.

Commenting on the growing ad campaigns of music services, Mazumder said, “The growth in advertising indicates the rapid progression of the online music category and also spreads awareness among consumers about the streaming industry.”

Unlike most Indian streaming services which concentrated on TV and Radio slots, Guvera decided to go on-ground with its approach. It became a ‘powered by partner’ for Harley Rock Riders Season V and planned to network with artistes and fans through such activities. Guvera India and Middle East international manager Ananya Amin said, “We plan to grow organically. We will partner with brands that will help us achieve that growth. Our partnership with Bookmyshow was our attempt to reach out to our potential and existing users. TV and Radio are good mediums, but we do not plan to go there just yet. We might consider it at end of the year.” Amin also added that they are in talks with a few festival promoters.

Meanwhile, Rdio emerging markets VP Snehal Shinde said, “We are planning a lot of marketing promotions. We are looking at multiple verticals to expand like Facebook and Twitter, and working with celebrities.” Rdio might even have a commercial, but there is nothing planned for that yet. Shinde highlighted, “We will do what is necessary for us. Our goal is to be a dominant player in the market, not just be present in India. We will make sure we do whatever we can to achieve that, but at the same time we will not simply be throwing money at the table.” 

The on-ground promotion format was seen amongst other players as well. Hungama joined hands with Vh1 Supersonic; Gaana promoted their brand on Times’ Mirchi Music Awards and presented ‘Arijit Singh Live’. In Phase II of Hungama’s campaign, the company is communicating the message of rewarding its users. Roy stressed, “The Phase II campaign was around loyalty. It is a focussed campaign, targeted towards Hungama users saying that we are rewarding them for using our services. The service has specifically communicated the message through the India-Australia series, and plan to run the TVC during higher viewership time slots or join hands with shows like ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’. Saavn is back as well with a new TVC with Ranbir Kapoor that is being aired across sports and news channels.  

If you take a look at claims made by the services in terms of user base, Hungama has over 10 million registered users on its Android and iOS apps. In January, Saavn claimed that it has already grown to more than 11 million monthly streaming users, and had more than 30 million unique users in 2014 alone. Meanwhile, Airtel’s Wynk has been downloaded more than five million times in six months of its launch, and Guvera India reaches a user base of over 2 million.  

According to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), India will move ahead of China in the smartphone market in 2015, which could probably increase music consumption through mobile.   

Nielsen’s 2014 U.S. music year-end report stated that music was streamed 164 billion times on-demand in 2014, which is up by 54 per cent as compared to 2013 (106 billion). With strong penetration of the internet in various regions of India, there is hope of good numbers coming this way. Even if services could convert less than half their users to adapt to paid models, they can make it profitable in India.