In 2006, two brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi decided that “Great minds think alike” and started a forum for sharing music.
On Wednesday, iLike, a social music service with 55 million users, was acquired by the social network MySpace. This kicked off a link-by-link dissection of the deal. The reason: iLike also runs the most popular music application on MySpace’s rival Facebook.
Music is serious business in the Web 2.0 world, and the Indian landscape is no different. Whether you swing to Bollywood numbers, smile at the pentatonic scale, or sigh mulling over the blue note, there are Indian sites that know the frequency to tap to match your wavelength. And there are sites that help you discover those distant, unheard melodies.
An Indian site built to create a community geared towards music, similar to iLike, is Muziboo ( www.muziboo.com).
“When we started Muziboo and released it as a user generated platform, we expected users to come in and start interacting with the product and other users,” says Nithya Dayal, co-founder. “But we learned very soon that people need to be enthused into interacting and contributing online. Making a social circle online around a common interest is still a novel idea for most Indians.”
Most music sites in India cater for a particular consumer base inclined to listen to copyrighted music online, such as Raaga.com, says Ms. Dayal. The primary revenue for these services is through ad-publishing, which is shared with the music companies for accessing content. Very few services provide a space for ‘Indie’ music, and fewer offer a democratic platform, where the content is not filtered by the service provider, she says.
‘Indie’ music is the creation of an independent artist, someone who is unbound by any contract or label.
Talking about copyright issues in providing a platform for such music, Ujjwal Grover, lead operations of Tempostand, says: “Our experience has been that people don’t care about these things.” These are people whose songs have never been listened to before. “For a Bengali rock singer in Karnataka, it is enough to be heard back home.” The situation may change when more money starts flowing in.
Tempostand ( www.tempostand.com) is tackling head on the question how to make independent artists earn revenue from their work. The site does a lot of online shows and works with brands to connect them with artists so that artists can see returns on their investments, says Mr. Grover.
The site was started in April 2007 by a group of students still in college. It now features around 3,500 artists from India, and some of them are from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Artists are urged to adopt a version of the Creative Commons licence that allows others to share and remix their work.
The exposure helps some independent performers gain a worldwide audience, says Shreyas Srinivasan, co-founder of Radioverve, which has eight radio stations dedicated to independent Indian music serving different genres with 1,500 artists. SoulMate, a band from Shillong, was discovered through Radioverve and featured in an Estonian music festival, he says. Manasi Prasad, a classical musician, was invited to tour Tanzania. “We are looking at discovery,” Mr. Srinivasan says. The biggest insight gained in running such a service is the content itself.