Three marketing tips for digital startups and how Ustad Zakir Hussain helped mobile music startup Twaang

When the world’s greatest tabla player tells an audience of over a thousand fans that they must use your product, what exactly does that do for a startup?

One heck of a lot, as mobile music startup Twaang’s co-founder Vishnu Raned will tell us; because that is exactly what happened when tabla legend Zakir Hussain wrapped up his recent concert with veena maestro Jayanthi Kumaresh. 

Their Bangalore performance, the first time that these outstanding artistes were on stage together, was the 2014 kickoff event for online music library Twaang. The solos and jugalbandis of the artistes drew a standing ovation, and Ustad Zakir Hussain afterwards thanked the organisers and the music startup Twaang (jokingly referring to them as Twaaaaaaaaaaaang!).

twang-concert

“This event was rather special in terms of timing as we just started accepting pre-orders for the paid subscription-version of Twaang,” says Raned. At present, the music app is free on platforms like android; the service will soon become a paid feature for Rs 199 per month. Twaang’s repertory includes Carnatic, Hindustani, folk, fusion and devotional music, in studio and live recordings. 

Raned shared with YourStory some exclusive insights on how they planned the event and what it achieved for them.

In order of importance, the top four objectives for Twaang in running such events are: (i) access to audience who represent a high potential of being paid users of the Twaang app (ii) brand building (iii) cash generation to help bootstrap the venture  (iv) creation of new exclusive content.

Last year, only three of these objectives were met during the promotional concerts, but this year they managed to nail all four, claims Raned.

“The capacity of Chowdiah Hall in Bangalore is 1,011 and we sold 903 tickets,” he says. The rest were reserved seats for press, venue management, friends and family. “We had a full house,” sums up Raned.

Tickets were priced at Rs 4,000, Rs 2,000 and Rs. 1,000. The company generated enough profits to reinvest and increase its marketing spend targeted towards acquiring paying customers. “The profits from this one concert cover our costs for 1.5 quarters,” says Raned. 

Twaang also ran newspaper and radio ads. Newspaper ads ran every day in the week leading up to the concert. Radio station Fever FM teamed up for radio ads and contests in the same week; Raned says the ad spend was under Rs.1 lakh.

Direct reach to consumers was estimated at around 20,000; indirect reach through partner promotions was over 75,000. Direct likes via Facebook were over 500 and direct shares over 60, says Raned.

“We added 1,600 new Twaang users in the week of the concert primarily driven by visibility generated through the event. A large portion of this audience has the potential to convert to paid users,” claims Raned.

The audience enthusiasm was so overwhelming that Raned says his team already began to think about their next event that very night. Local news media also picked up audience comments, such as: “I don’t think words are enough to express how much I enjoyed this evening,” and “It was a memorable concert.”

“We are becoming known for the high quality and exclusivity of non-film music content we bring to the table. Marketing activities such as this help drive our brand value deeper into the minds of consumers. Also, with over 300 new albums lined up for release over the next 12-14 months, our engagement and user retention rates are very high,” says Raned, summing up the experience.

Each such experience, successful or not, should be treated as a learning experience, and Twaang’s co-founder says a key learning has been that they must continue putting together attractive and unique artiste line-ups that would help achieve the growth objectives. 

“Deeper digital engagement with the audience and potential users before and after each future event is key since the subscription version will be live soon and the event will give us the opportunity to directly get paid users on board,” says Raned, looking ahead at the next concerts in 2014.

Here are Raned’s Top 3 recommendations to startups on how to do offline and online promotions:

  • Start with a small budget but run targeted ads online. Twaang’s daily spend is Rs.300- 350 – a small but effective amount.
  • Ads on social media like Facebook and Twitter can drive actual users, as opposed to just downloads. Twaang adds about 250-300 new users every day and over 60% of that comes from Facebook. Using Twitter for ads is still largely untapped and can potentially be cheaper than running ads on Facebook or Google.
  • Run offline promotions and activities that pay off themselves and/or have immediate conversions. It represents an opportunity to get in front of consumers and get an immediate conversion. After all, one paying customer is better than 10 ‘free’ consumers!

Related article:

Mobile music startup Twaang ropes in Zakir Hussain to kick off their 2014 concert series


Madanmohan Rao

Madanmohan Rao

Madanmohan Rao is research director at YourStory Media and editor of five book series (http://amzn.to/NpHAoE). His interests include creativity, innovation, knowledge management, and digital media. Madan is also a DJ and writer on world music and jazz. He can be followed on Twitter at @MadanRao