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Dhingana To Focus On Mobile & Social; To Launch Open Graph Integration

Online music streaming website, Dhingana, intends to shift focus on mobile, following the launch of a BlackBerry application, which according to the company, clocked close to 100,000 downloads within 40-50 days of launch, and the launch of revamped apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. It is also working on a Symbian app. In addition to mobile, Dhingana also launched a new HTML5 version of its website.  The company, which is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, claims that mobile traffic and engagement from India increased by 300% in the last 8 months. Founded in 2007, the company had also received an undisclosed amount of funding from Inventus Capital Partners and Helion Venture Partners, last year.

Speaking with MediaNama, Dhingana Co-Founder & COO Swapnil Shinde said that the company is primarily targeting application stores and smart phones (i.e. no operator tie-ups). But what about data charges? “On an average a user listens to 40-50 songs in a month,” Shinde said, “consuming close to 120MB – 150MB, which translates to Rs 50 in data use, which is a minor cost.”

Shinde claimed that that their service has over 3.5 million unique users accessing the site from India of which 150,000 are daily users, across 220 countries. Around 60% of Dhingana’s users on web come from India, while 60% of its mobile users are from India.

Open Graph Integration Plans

The site is closely integrated with Facebook and requires the same credentials to login and share music with other users. The company is working on an open graph application for deeper integration and auto publishing updates, which it says, will be live in another 20-30 days.

Licensing & Differentiation

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Dhingana’s catalogue has global rights for 300,000 digital tracks across 35 languages, from labels such as T-Series, Saregama and others, but where is the differentiation, when services such as Gaana.com*, Rediff Songbuzz, Saavn, In.com, Google Music  and many others also offer online music streaming? The differentiation, Shinde claims, lies in social music discovery and personalisation: “We use proprietary algorithms which offer recommendations based on the user’s history and other matrices such as artist, genre, record label etc – so there’s clustering around those matrices and after filtering across clusters, the site comes out with relevant results.” The iPhone app also offers a radio mode, which, he says is like a hybrid between Spotify and Pandora, and offers artist based recommendation and personalised playlists. The company intends to extend the feature to its web version, shortly.

Monetization

The company considers advertising as its main source of revenue, but it might experiment with other models, including subscription, in a limited way, according to Shinde. He gave the example of Pandora, pointing out that 90% of the company’s revenues were from advertising and said that Dhingana intended to follow the same model. He said that the company has existing relationships with advertising networks across both US and India and has worked either directly or indirectly with some advertisers like Nissan Infinity, Emirates, Gillette, Samsung, Movie production houses in India (Don2, Players).

When we asked about competing against pirated music sites, Shinde said that the difference between streaming and most pirated music sites is that in case of pirated music, you have to download songs on your smart phones, move them to CDs and keep downloading new ones to keep your library updated. Dhingana, he said, gets rid of all that with free legal music. (Ed: so do other streaming sites)

Shinde admitted that the company has so far not focused much on monetization, but said that it intends to focus on optimizing around revenues in Q3 of 2012 and hopes to break even by 2014.

On being quizzed if the company has plans to offer music downloads, he responded that it didn’t but might consider it in the near future.

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* Disclosure: Indiatimes, which owns Gaana.com, is an advertiser with MediaNama

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