E-commerce major Flipkart is pulling the plug on its digital music store Flyte Music on June 17, 2013. While the store is live at the time of writing this article, we noticed that Flipkart has removed links to the music store from its homepage. The online store offered DRM free music tracks across various genres like devotional and spiritual, Hindustani, Carnatic, Pop, Rock, Film/OST, Indipop and others. Some of the labels that were on-board include T-Series, Saregama, Universal, Sony Music International, and Sony Music India among others. The shut down was first reported by NextBigWhat.
Flipkart has also sent emails to Flyte users (a copy below), asking users to exhaust their Flyte wallet balance by June 17, or else the company will refund the balance amount to the user. It also notes that all the MP3 files purchased on before June 17, 2013, will continue to be available for download till August 18, 2013, following which the company will be shutting down the music library. We contacted Flipkart for more details on this unexpected move, and it appears they don’t want to discuss Flyte’s shut down. We’ve received a statement, attributable to Mekin Maheshwari, Head – Digital Media and Payments:
“We set up Flyte MP3s a year back in what was an extremely nascent industry. The aim was to bring legal digital content to consumers in India. In a short span of time we built a massive digital music catalog at very affordable prices along with a loyal base of nearly 100,000 customers.
However, we have realized that the music downloads business in India will not reach scale unless several problem areas such as music piracy and easy micro-payments etc. are solved in great depth. Which is why, we feel that at present, it makes sense to take a step back from Flyte MP3s and revisit the digital music market opportunity at a later stage.”
Note that Flyte’s ebooks business remains, and Sameer Nigam, who had started this digital goods business at Flipkart, is still with the company. (we checked).
This move is surprising because Flyte was a part of a plan for Flipkart to grow its digital distribution business: speaking to Medianama about their digital distribution plans, Flipkart co-founder and COO Binny Bansal had said in in October 2011, that the initial plan was to launch an digital music store, followed by e-books, games and video and they hope to complete their digital distribution rollout by end of 2012. However, it is already mid-2013 and the company rolled out only e-books last November.
Flipkart had launched its online music store Flyte Music last February, after acquiring the Mumbai-based digital content platform company Mime360 which managed music streaming for labels like Saregama, Universal Music and Inreco and delivers music content to publishers like Gaana.com (Indiatimes), Myusic and iMusti. Sameer Nigam, founder of Mime360, had joined Flipkart following the acquisition.
Flyte’s email to users
– October 11, 2011: Flipkart acquires Mumbai based business digital content platform company Mime360, thereby entering the digital distribution segment.
– October 12, 2011: Flipkart co-founder and COO Binny Bansal informs Medianama that they plan to initially launch a digital music store, followed by e-books, games and video and they hope to complete their digital distribution rollout by end of 2012.
– November 30, 2011: Flipkart introduces a new Wallet feature to enable customers store money in their Flipkart account and redeem it on future purchases.
– February 15, 2012: Flipkart starts testing its MP3 music store ‘Flyte’.
– February 27, 2012: Flipkart’s MP3 music store ‘Flyte’ goes live and starts offering DRM free music tracks starting at Rs 6 per track and going up to Rs 15 per track. It also features a digital cart which separates digital downloads as a separate product altogether and offers a download manager to allow users manage their downloads.
– April 2012: Flipkart launches an Android app for Flyte Music.
– April 2012: Flipkart claims to have clocked over 100,000 downloads within the first month of the launch. It also claims to have tie-ups with over 200 domestic and International labels.
– July 2012: NH7.in, the music streaming and discovery platform which focuses on independent music, partners with Flipkart to launch a dedicated digital music store on Flyte, featuring independent music.
– July 2012: Flipkart launches iOS app for Flyte Music.
– August 2012: Flipkart claims to have clocked 600,000 downloads in five months after launch and Flyte is accounting for 1% of its overall sales, according to a Radioandmusic report.
– November 2012: Flipkart launches its e-book store, Flyte eBooks, allowing users to download e-books to their mobile phones and tablets. The site offered 64,000 books at launch and continues to offer only an Android app, with plans to launch apps for other platforms in the future.
– April 2013: YouTube India starts integrating music purchase links from Flipkart’s Flyte and Apple’s iTunes on select videos.
– April 2013: Flipkart.com starts limiting its wallet users to use new wallet top-ups only on transactions on its digital goods store Flyte. The company writes in to say that this will be a temporary change until they secure the requisite government approvals to run a marketplace wide wallet.
Updates: Added Flyte Timeline