Crystal Ball gazing: The biggies give their view

MUMBAI: With the digital ecosystem evolving since the last few years, the next three to five years are seen as the years of ‘quantum leap’. These were the views of a panel at the Crystal Ball session on the second day of Mix Radio Music Connects (MRMC).

The panel comprised of Gaana.com VP and business head Pawan Agarwal, HMV Saregama India head music business Adarsh Gupta, Bharti Airtel chief product officer Anand Chandrasekaran, Sony MAX and Sony MIX senior executive VP and  business head Neeraj Vyas and Samsung South West Asia director and head, media and  cloud services Tarun Malik.

With a rise in music streaming services, visual content streaming services and music channels and companies competing for content will give more traction to these services felt the experts.

Commenting on the digital eco system, Gupta said, “It is going to take a quantum leap in the next three years; there has been immense mobile penetration and data digitisation in recent times and many digital services have been launched.”

“Since most music channels are free to air and the revenue comes only through ads, music channels have 20-25 minutes of advertisement/ trailers per hour. We need to focus on bringing music back to the audience but the music channels are here to stay,” according to Vyas.

 “Music channels have a base of around 400 million people and that is the number covered by TAM. We need a lot of changes like digitization, it is the future.” he emphasized.

Agarwal added, “There are two big things that are happening right now – availability of content and a lot more awareness of the industry going faster. The number of downloads are increasing and digital is the future.”

Talking about the music industry, Chandrasekaran added, “This is the best time for the music industry.”

Malik further explained, “Personalisation is the key and differentiation should go beyond just music. The services must be more centric and personalised in terms of what the users want to consume.”

“What we need to focus on in the coming future is ‘convergence of devices’. The volume of consumption is increasing and they need to be accessible easily across all users’ devices,” he added.

Chandrasekharan expressed his opinions on what is the need of the hour saying, “Only 1/5 of the overall smartphone using population has the data capability to use apps. We all need to cater to what users want. User problems need to be solved and there must be transparency. For example, when a user is using a music streaming app, they do not know how much data is going to be consumed. That is why we have introduced Freedom subscription in Wynk, which includes bundled data.”

The biggest challenge that the music industry faces is piracy, especially in India, where users download illegal music for convenience. Agarwal said, “The entire industry is trying very hard to curb piracy by introducing many services. Apps should introduce subscriptions which allow the users to download music when they have Wi-Fi and later listen, without data usage.”

The panellists agreed that the mid-term goal is to get at least a hundred million people to stream music, which will help reduce the piracy. With healthy smartphone consumption in the country, they believe, that hundred million is a reasonable number to expect in the next two years.


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