India’s Flipkart Enters Digital Music, Apple iTunes Style

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By Sriram Vadlamani

Someone has to do it and Flipkart did it. There were rumors, leaks and citings of Flipkart’s music service for quite some time. Rumor and speculation mills started since Flipkart’s acquisition of Mime360 and Chakpak and now have reached the expected culmination – a digital music store called Flyte.

As per Pluggd.in, Flyte will be legal music download service which will offer DRM free mp3 downloads for a price of Rs. 10-15. A song can be downloaded for up to 5 times including the first download. This system removes the consumers from the clutches of buying a whole album for just one song.

Flipkart is trying something new and it’s rather bold given the rampant piracy India’s music industry grapples with. Flipkart’s launch also coincides with the ban of popular download site Songs.pk. Flipkart has several challenges ahead of it. First and the obvious one is : Why should I pay for music? The second one is there’s free streaming music service online. Both are big challenges to surmount. One thing Flipkart don’t have to worry is Apple entering the Indian digital music market. Given Apple’s love for India, that’s one I know will not happen.

To get a leg up over the challenges, Flipkart can get the pricing right by probably pricing the song at Rs. 9. Yeah! the amount anyone would spend for a tea or a coffee. Rs. 9 also hits the psychological sweet spot and follows the notorious Bata pricing, the art of pricing something closer to the next whole number to give the impression that consumers are actually paying less.

Free streaming music vs digital downloads

Streaming music services for India are sprouting. If Facebook is the single place where you can reach a lot of online Indians, music services like Gaana.com and Saavn, have collaborated with Facebook for a win-win set-up. Free streaming music obviously collides with Flipkart’s digital music downloads. But there is a silver lining.

Mp3 by definition makes a song to go mobile. If someone is relying on their home broadband, they will not get the song on the phone without paying for the mobile internet, which by the way is expensive. With smartphones being so ubiquitous, it is only logical to think that people would take their songs on the go.

A calculation of mobile broadband download speed cost versus the cost of song on Flipkart would help. My guess is, they would be pretty close.

It was free till yesterday. Why should I pay?

I already hear ‘we will not pay, we are getting it for free’ slogans and Flipkart is copying Amazon’s model without innovating and not thinking outside the box. This is the jargon which is thrown a lot. But where’s the box? If there was no box, why should anyone even think outside the box?

Thinking outside the box, the most often used jargon has a evil step sister. It’s called “Reinventing the wheel”. That’s what Flipkart is not doing. It’s is using whatever worked in the west and trying to apply it to the Indian markets. If it doesn’t work then maybe then the thinking will go outside the box. Also there is only one way of selling music online. I don’t  see multiple ways of doing this. The only thing that can differ is the price.

As for why should I pay? That’s not really a business question.

Now the million dollar question : Will you pay for your music?

Asian Correspondent

Independent Asia News and analysis of regional politics and current affairs - Asian politics environment media education culture and more.

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