gaana_devs(by NT Balanarayan & Vikas SN)

Times Internet’s music streaming website Gaana has opened up its developer platform letting developers access more than three million songs from its catalog to create apps. The site is now asking developers to submit app concepts before they are given an API access key.

This is the same initiative that Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani had said in November last year at the Nokia Music Connects conference. He had mentioned that they will be working with developers to use Gaana’s music library as a base.

Gaana mentions that the platform was previously available for select partners only. For instance, its online karaoke feature Singalong which was launched in June last year in collaboration with Karaoke Garage were built using the same APIs. Similarly, its group TV channel Zoom allowed users to access playlists created by their favorite celebrities on Gaana.com, which were powered using these APIs.

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What APIs are available

Gaana will offer three types of APIs – Meta Data APIs that developers can use to sort tracks to see most popular tracks, hot songs, recommend songs based on the one that is playing right now, view song details, view list of popular artists, list of artists, all songs by an artist, artists details and info. It also allows developers view songs of a particular genre, its details and artists who are associated with a genre, among others.

User Data APIs which allows developers to access user information like favorite songs, recently heard songs and recent user activity among others, manage their connections and also perform various actions on one’s playlist like creating playlists, adding and deleting songs from playlists and deleting playlists.

Player APIs which offers UI controls and  javascript based music player to developers.

Through these APIs, Gaana claims to offer developers access to a song catalog of more than 3 million songs and its 3 million userbase. This essentially means developers will finally get access to music they can use in their apps without having to deal with labels and shell out the minimum guarantee.

Marketing Incentives: Besides APIs, Gaana says it will also help promote new applications through custom campaigns and featured position on Gaana. These apps will also apparently be promoted on social media (probably Gaana’s social media accounts) and the TIL (Times Internet Limited) network. The company says these apps will be well integrated into the mobile apps of Gaana. Gaana claims the karaoke feature has helped Karaoke Garage cross 0.5 million visitors and register more than 0.75 million song plays across multiple languages.

There is not much information on how developers can monetize their respective apps, but there is an opportunity for branded apps, quizzes, karaoke apps and contests, as well as curated playlists. It also likely that the platform will work on a revenue share model, as suggested by the developer’s terms of use page.

What does Gaana gain: It’s far from the black box approach that Nikhil wrote about after Dhingana shut down, but it’s a very interesting approach nevertheless. Opening up its API will give Gaana a significant differentiation over competitors such as Hungama and Saavn. These developers will be essentially building features for Gaana and they have the option to pick and chose the features they like and integrate them into their offering.

Its also not clear if developers will be restricted to Gaana.com and its official apps or developers can also put up these apps on Google Play and iOS Store. This will essentially turn Gaana from being just a standalone music streaming website to a platform. Think of what LINE or WeChat has built around messaging and now imagine what Gaana could build around music. It could encourage developers to tap into its catalogue to build apps which can then be monetised. Such an approach could work as long as it doesn’t become chaotic and spammy like in the case of Facebook.

That being said, it’s unlikely that labels will allow third party services to use Gaana as a means to creating their own apps: they like to have control over who uses their music.

p.s. Gaana should work on the load times of its developer site. It is really slow right now.

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