Ronnie05's Blog

The evolving Music Industry in the digital age

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on May 11, 2010

A recently released FICCI KPMG report put the size of the Indian Digital Music market at Rs.260 crores for 2009. On an average, an Indian Consumer listens to nearly 100 songs on a monthly basis. Interestingly, the report also notes that 80% of mobile subscribers are willing to accept advertisements if it meant they would get to download music free. This is music to the likes of Nokia which is trying to generate revenues out of the music stream not by direct sales to the consumer (which as a model appears to be failing except for the iTunes store), but by pushing content relevant ads to the consumers looking for music.

The Indian VAS industry registered a 70% growth in 2008-09 from Rs. 9760 crores (07-08) to 16520 crores (08-09).Music is easily the biggest VAS opportunity in the Indian context and everyone from Telecom Operators to Device manufacturers to Content Providers and aggregators are vying for a slice of the music pie. However the downloading of a full song on mobile phone is still at a lowly 13% and online music downloads are 6% of internet penetration in Indian households. Buying a music CD in a physical store is still the most acceptable mode of buying music in India. And then there is Piracy.

The following are the online music access models prevalent in India:

1. Streaming subscriptions: Consumers pay flat monthly rate for unlimited access to a music library. The content is DRM protected and cannot be saved to any memory. The Airtel and Vodafone Radio services @ Rs.30 for 30 minute song streaming is an example of the service.
2. Pay Per song download: Like a song? Pay for it…. Download it. Hungama and iTunes charge a minimum of Rs.5 for DRM protected downloads. This means the song cannot be transferred to another device.
3. Unlimited Songs on a monthly/yearly basis: Fixed fee starting from Rs.99/month, where in the customers pays for a time period and can download as much as he can during that time period. This model is also referred to as “All you can eat” model and is available from different sources mostly in DRM formats which means device transferability is constrained.
4. Free Music: This new concept brought forth by Nokia de-couples the consumer paying for his music and instead serves up Ads to the consumers. As stated earlier, consumers seem to be fine with Ads if they get to keep the music that they like. Moreover Nokia aspires to leave out the DRM bit out of it which will make the music freely accessible and shareable to all.

The music eco-system needs to adapt itself very uniquely to stay relevant to consumers who have largely been swayed by P2P digital music sharing and privacy. A few interesting notes on that.
1. Music industry also seeks serves premium content at a graded pricing to make margins on more popular content. That way the normal content is available at flat rates and the premium content gets good margins for the sellers.
2. The other value add is in terms of content aggregation. Users appreciate a one stop solution for their music rather than going to each individual content source for their kind of music. That is where the telecom service providers and content aggregators step in providing a uniform platform to sell content from different labels.
3. Finally there is the question about MP3 (DRM free content) versus DRM content. In many terms Nokia is getting very ambitious experimenting with free music and coupling it to mobile ads. Thus to an extent it commoditizes the product, but also establishes a whole new Ad revenue connection with Online music access.

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