Interview with Dhingana Founder Snehal Shinde; Changing The Way People Consume Music

dhinganaTheDhingana music platform is accessed by millions of users across 220+ countries every month. The company today has a collection of over 3,50,000 songs across 35 different genres which are available, legally and for free.

Music is one segment wherein one doesn’t have to worry about a customer base or declining markets. Music has also underwent disruptions over the history and we’re witnessing one more wherein players like Dhingana, Gaana and Saavn (India Specific) are playing a huge role in changing the way people listen to music. Founded by twin brothers Snehal and Swapnil Shinde, Dhingana, an online music discovery and streaming website, has been at the forefront of the revolution and has over a million monthly active users. I got in touch with Snehal Shinde to learn more about Dhingana and the music industry.

How did Dhinagna start? The team has seen great new developments with people from Yahoo, Pandora and Google joining in. Tell me about it.

The idea for Dhingana was conceived four years ago. Me and Swapnil, both, are complete Bollywood buffs and love Indian music. Back then, there were no good Indian music-streaming products which could work across all platforms and which provided users easy and clean (read legal) access to Indian music. This is when we decided to start something on our own; to make a business out of our passion. Thus began the Dhingana journey.

Currently we are a small team but are growing really fast. We already have operations in US andIndia. And yes, our Head of engineering was chief architect at Yahoo, Head of Marketing used to run MySpace Music and managed orkut, gmail and other Google products. And we’re proud to have a key algorithms engineer from Pandora!

snehal_shindeHaving started back in 2007, how has the music ecosystem behaved over the years?

The music ecosystem has changed considerably over the last few years. Earlier consumers had limited options when it came to accessing legal music. They were highly dependent on CD’s as a source but due to impractical pricing and ease of sharing, we witnessed rampant piracy, which hurt the interests of the music industry as well as artists.

Today, with the penetration of internet, music industry in the west has found newer and more practical revenue models with the likes of iTunes (pay per download) and Spotify (ad + subscription) coming up. We are currently witnessing a similar trend in India with government curbing pirated music providers and legal streaming and download players coming up offering high quality music either free or at reasonable prices.

Change has also been witnessed in the attitude of the Indian music industry, which is now looking at newer revenue channels and increasingly valuing streaming as a way to fight and piracy while still being profitable. Also, independent artists who might have lacked resources for cutting their own album have also benefitted with the advent of music streaming. Today, their collection is available online and can be heard by anyone. With streaming becoming more and more social, the day is not far when we might see a few desi stars emerge directly from online sources!

What are your views on ‘music streaming’ and its future.

In 2011,Indiahas close to 120M internet users growing at 35-40% year over year. The numbers show that the market opportunity is huge. When it comes to streaming, we are just getting started and the music market is pretty nascent right now. We believe the growth potential is huge in the coming years.

At Dhingana, we want to build the biggest social music streaming service for the Indian markets. This means that in addition to Bollywood music, we will also target leadership position in a variety of other Indian music.

Dhingana today has a collection of over 350,000 songs across 35 different genres that are available to music lovers legally and for free. Also, Indians are increasingly getting online via mobile devices and through our mobile applications we are going where the customer is. Indians are increasingly looking at the mobile phone as their premier music player. Besides the #1 web music-streaming product, we have the #1 Indian music app on iPhone and Android.  We recently released our apps for our Blackberry and Nokia and are the only legal Indian music streaming service for these platforms.

Dhingana lays an emphasis on discovery and recommendations. Throw some light on these aspects.

We have a huge focus on social music discovery and personalized music recommendations. Our differentiation is that we allow our users to easily discover music and share it with their friends, in a very social way. Also, we provide personalized music recommendations based on music that is already being enjoyed by users and their friends, to improve their music experience.

Our philosophy is to take music to forums / devices where the listeners are. The Indian music users’ experience on the web is increasingly becoming more on the mobile as compared to the PC. We are ahead of our competitors on the mobile front with our recent launch of Blackberry and Nokia apps as well as drastically improved design on iPhone and Android apps.

We are happy to have grown our user base via word of mouth and organic traffic alone and have become one of the largest Indian music site without spending any money on advertising. Finally, as benchmarks we continue to look beyond ‘competition’ and at the best of music platforms in the U.S and Europe.

Tell me about the revenue model fro Dhingana.

Currently advertising is our main revenue model. We work directly and indirectly with some of the biggest brands inIndiaand US and provide them with premium and exclusive advertising options to reach millions of users worldwide.

However, as a company, we continue to focus our energies on creating a highly robust product and further improving it to provide the best music experience to our customers. Music streaming is only in its infancy inIndiaand there is scope to develop a great product and grow our user-base by manifolds in a short period of time. And then there will be multiple ways to monetize the model. For now, it is about the product!

What is in the pipeline at Dhingana?

In future, we plan to make Dhingana even more social and accessible. We will continue to add new apps to give customers the best possible music experience. We also plan to further enlarge our music collection and keep adding new songs as and when they are released. Also, we will aggressively invest in talent and hiring inIndiato build a music-streaming product that compares with the best in the world.

More about Dhingana on their website.

Jubin Mehta

Jubin Mehta

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