Why store, when you can search?
Prateek Gupta, 43, a Delhi merchant, learnt a trick on music last month from his 15-year-old son Aayan: he gave up hunting for Begum Akhtar ghazals, and set aside his cherished collection of 1,200 LP records to plunge into the world of music streaming apps.
“To my surprise, my craving for music has doubled since I began using it,” says Gupta, who pays only Rs 120 a month for Hungama’s music app service.
Welcome to the world of all-you-can-eat (er, listen) music apps from brands such as Gaana, Rdio, Hungama, Apple Music, Saavn and Wynk, which are defying music pirates with low-priced subscription models.
Apple launched in India at a significantly affordable Rs 120 a month – a fifth-of its US rate in equivalent. And global leader Spotify has not entered India yet.
But entrenched Indian players are betting that their music libraries are larger and Apple may not have it easy.
Early starter Hungama.com has 14.2 million paid users who download audio or video, among its 55 million active users.
“There was a time when no one believed consumers would move away from free and pirated stuff,” says Hungama.com’s CEO Siddhartha Roy.
Industry experts say there are 230 million mobile Internet users in India, and the penetration of music streaming services stands at 15%. The potential is huge.
“Revenues based on consumer based transactions are growing faster, which is very motivating for the industry,” says Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet, which runs Gaana.com, with 15 million monthly active users.
But there is a limit, say some.
“The financial models of these apps are yet to be proven and their impact on popular radio will be limited in the medium term,” says Harshad Jain, CEO, radio and entertainment, HT Media Ltd.
“Bollywood music can easily be downloaded for free. It’s tough to convince people to pay for music at all,” said Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment practice at consultant KPMG India.
“Companies will try to attract consumers by offering discounts and attractive schemes,” said Hari Nair, head, digital, Sony Music.