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Update: Musicfellas Acquired By Times Internet; What Next?


Update: NextBigWhat had earlier reported that the deal was for Rs2 Crore, but this has been denied by Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani.

Earlier: Times Internet has acquired Musicfellas.com, an online marketplace for independent artists to sell their songs that was launched in 2012.

Though Musicfellas has songs from 700 indie artists, it must have been difficult for the company to establish itself in a Bollywood-centric music market dominated by Gaana and Saavn. Dhingana, the third player in the music streaming market has faced a few issues and there were rumours of it shutting down. However, Dhingana CEO Rohit Bhatia had told Medianama that it was restructuring and not shutting down.

It is possible that Musicfellas was acquired just when it was about to shut down its operations. It needs to be noted that Shubhranshu J, one of the co-founders of Musicfellas had left the company a while back to join ZipDial.

For Times Internet, this is a win as they get access to the great library of indie artists Musicfellas has built up over a year. The Musicfellas team is joining Gaana, but it’s not clear if Times Internet will continue to operate Musicfellas as a separate site. Its CEO Mayank Jain will be joining Gaana as developer evangelist. We had reported earlier about the company’s plan to open up its music API to other developers.

Once they integrate, Gaana will be able to distinguish itself from Saavn and Dhingana which promote only Bollywood music on its homepage. Gaana on the other hand, has a good mix of the Indian and western music on its homepage. The addition of indie music will give it some sort of exclusivity which has its own advantages. Gaana seems to be slowly expanding its music library beyond Bollywood which is limited due to licensing agreements. Hungama has exclusivity on songs made by T-Series giving it inordinate control over monetization of music, given the minimum guarantees regime that exists in the music business.

It is worth noting that if the songs are integrated into Gaana, they won’t be available for purchase as Gaana is a streaming only service. It is left for anyone’s imagination if Times plans to let people buy songs from the Gaana in the near future. As of now, only those who are using the paid-tier of Gaana can cache songs to the phone. It is also not clear what happens to those who bought songs from Musicfellas, or how long they will be available for download on the website. We have mailed Times Internet seeking details on these issues.

In November 2013, Gaana had 7.5 million monthly active users and 2 million registered users. The number of playlists created by these users on the music streaming service had gone up 4x in 2 years, with a new playlist created every minute. Music consumption had also gone up 6 times.

Other platforms for independent artists

In July 2012, NH7.in, the music streaming and discovery platform focused on independent music, had tied-up with Indian e-commerce major, Flipkart to launch digital music downloads featuring independent music. However, Flipkart shut down its Flyte music store in June 2013. NH7 now provides music  by independent artists on its site NH7.in.

In January 2013, Ping Digital Broadcast, an Internet HD videos broadcasting network, had inked a joint venture with OKListen to launch a digital music channel – India Music Network (IMN TV). The channel showcased original music, melodies, and compositions from independent musicians and artists. As per the agreement, OK Listen provides a platform for artists to sell their music, IMN TV was expected to shoot the video and promote it on its YouTube channel.

Corrigendum: We had incorrectly stated in the headline that the acquisition was for Rs 2 Crore. The error is regretted. 

Also read: #Outlook14 – What Indian Online Music Companies Plan To Do

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