I didn't even know that digital music downloads were available legally till Flipkart launched it. At Rs 6 a track I can easily afford it,” says avid music buff Kunal Khaitan.
Already being touted as the “iTunes of India”, Flipkart's “Flyte” platform launched in February offers users the option of legally downloading songs for as little as Rs 6 a track while albums are available for download starting at Rs 25. What's more is that these downloads are Digital Right Management free implying that there are no access related restrictions on the use of digital content after purchase and one can download and play it on Winamp, Wndows Media Player, iTunes, PC or home theatre system and so on.
Though Flyte has widened the pool of choice for music lovers to get their music online, it remains to be seen how the site will manage to fob off fierce competition from free online streaming sites, pirated music download portals as well as the throbbing mobile music download segment even as it hopes that its “easy-to-buy-music-at-attractive-price-point” strategy will help convert the freeloader mindset to the willing-to-pay category.
Online streaming music portals for Indian music such as gaana.com, dhingana.com and saavn.com are some of the popular players in this space in India and if you are in parts of Europe and US you could get all your music from web sites like Spotify which has a presence in 13 countries.
Hungama also offers a music download service for Rs 10 a song besides value packs and unlimited download plans for Rs 99 a month that are DRM protected.
Indian music industry
In 2011, the Indian music industry achieved a 19 per cent year-on-year decline in sales of physical music which was compensated by a significant jump of 24 per cent year-on-year in digital music consumed, according to a FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2012. However, interestingly 90 per cent of the total digital music sales have come from the mobile segment.
Last year also provided users viable options of music consumption through different digital platforms such as pay per download, unlimited music streaming and subscription based music services. With the emergence of these digital platforms and greater channels of music discovery, exposure to newer genres of music is also picking up, nurturing demand for non-film genres such as devotional and classical songs, though there's still a long way to go, believe some users.
“There isn't much variety available yet. Unlike in the west where even niche artists are published on iTunes, downloads available in India are limited to mostly popular artists,” remarked user Abhishek Swarup.
Roping in social media
Besides integrating their music download service with mobile apps for smartphones, Android and iOS for better traction, music Web sites are also using social media network to leverage viral content in the hope that it would help funnel free users and convert them into paid customers by personalising content in an engaging manner. Apart from technological innovation, creativity and innovation in packaging and marketing is also gaining centre stage for these music websites in a bid to stay in the game. For instance, the website iMusti.com is offering an “advertisement free musical experience for 7 days” by signing up or login in through Facebook followed by a paid model if the customer wishes to continue.
Mr Mandar Thakur, Chief Operating Officer, Times Music said: “In India, digital music is dominated by handset downloads owing to the absence of internet services such as iTunes or Spotify. However, in the next 12 to 18 months we will see the launch of new services in the industry with Amazon entering India and Flipkart entering into digital music. We also expect content delivery to be enhanced with the launch of such services.”
Till then, as they say, play on!