Gaana is India’s largest commercial music streaming service with over 185 million monthly users. It was launched in April 2010 by Times Internet and provides both Indian and international music content. The entire Indian music catalogue is available to users worldwide
After consistently re-establishing its leadership as India’s largest and most loved music streaming app, Gaana has strengthened its management by appointing Sandeep Lodha as its new CEO. A proven leader within the media & entertainment industry, Sandeep has 22 years of rich experience in scaling brands in hyper-growth sectors with Disney, Bain & Company, Weddingz.in & Intel Capital.
In an exclusive chat with MediaNews4U, Sandeep Lodha, CEO, Gaana speaks on the various initiatives during the pandemic, strengthening the streaming services and the way forward.
The country is just coming out of the second wave. How has Gaana tackled the pandemic on the whole?
We tackled the pandemic pretty well – we focused on diversifying our content portfolio to satiate the consumer’s demands.
With the dearth of mainstream music, we shifted our focus towards bringing Indie artists to the fore and launched several projects such as Gaana Launchpad and the Gaana Indie Fest. This not only gave independent artists a platform to showcase their talents but also helped music aficionados discover fresh content stemming from different parts of the country, and Gaana enabled in highlighting India’s rich musical diversity.
Through constant insights and audience research, we understood that there was a growing demand for music across different genres such as workout, devotion and so on, and therefore we curated respective playlists. Gaana has observed a 12% increase in romantic playlist streams across all age groups and a substantial increase in devotional playlists – even among 18–24-year-olds. Besides romance and spirituality, there has been a significant surge in workout playlists as people started working out from the comfort of their homes, and a healthy uptake in motivational or self-help podcasts in a bid to focus and power through the odds. Lastly, podcast content consumption across all genres including stories, entertainment, motivational and comedy on our platform in recent times has also witnessed an uptake.
In addition to this, we launched live concerts on Gaana, bringing the arena experience straight to the comfort of one’s home or a place of their choice, given the COVID19 protocols. The DuaLipa Studio2054 concert hosted exclusively on Gaana witnessed a tremendous response with over 150,000 users attending the stream.
The organization has also taken a step towards the pay-per-view model with the launch of the one-time pass for the Shankar Ehsaan Loy live event hosted on Gaana which will soon be followed by a number of live events with popular singers and artists. Subscribers of Gaana Plus will get full access to these events as a part of their membership.
In this time of crisis Gaana has bought in a lot of innovations, can you briefly take us through them?
While we aim to continue to hold our leadership position as the go-to destination for India’s music needs, technology remains at the center of everything we do. To drive content and product innovation, we have an internal team called Gaana Innovation Labs. The team consists of highly skilled and professional individuals in the field of content programming, event production, music engineering and few external consulting advisers tasked to deliver India Specific innovations and launch a suite of cutting-edge products and content formats at the concurrence of Music and technology.
Earlier last year, Gaana launched Dynamic Product Ads that enable marketers to create hyper-personalized creatives in real time by tagging parts of commercial scripts based on age, gender, location, weather, time, music preference, device and other 3rd party data to create and serve relevant advertisements for our user-base. We also launched a self-serve ads platform, where advertisers can plan, create and monitor their campaigns on their own.
What would your role be now to strengthen the App?
As I take over the reins at Gaana, the end goal is to scale this loved audio streaming platform and hit 500 Million users in the next 2 years.
We aim to achieve this through diversification and expansion of our content portfolio and ensure everything in Music is available on Gaana. In addition to this, we will bring newer avenues of engagement for users to enhance their experience. Lastly, we will pay close attention to driving revenue growth through ad revenues, subscription growth and promotional marketing.
There is a mention of the App now getting into the OTT space, can you elaborate on this?
Gaana’s focus has always been on audio streaming and it will stay that way in the near future. Venturing in the video OTT space is not a part of our current priorities.
This pandemic has seen a tectonic shift in how we communicate, what we watch, what we listen and much more. What are the trends you are seeing here in India?
The pandemic gave listeners a chance to discover newer pieces of content across all verticals. The audio streaming sector saw a significant uptake in genres such as devotional music, workout, yoga and so on. Not just music, the pandemic acted as a catalyst for podcasts as well, thereby driving content consumption higher for that segment. To make sure that users are presented with content that they prefer, we paid close attention to enhancing our personalization and recommendations algorithms.
We are constantly working with the technology teams out here who are developing algorithms to better understand a user’s music consumption patterns across beats / mood / genre and based on that, the platform suggests music recommendations. Of course overlapping playouts on top of that. The coming months a lot of great stuff can be expected on this front.
What would be your out of the box Marketing initiatives going forward?
Our teams are constantly working round the clock to drive insights on consumer demands. Based on the research and their findings you will see some exciting properties and campaigns in the coming months.
What is the way forward for Gaana in the new normal?
We are focusing on constantly expanding the Gaana music library across multiple languages and genres to make the platform as India’s destination for everything in music. We also aim to evangelize audio OTT and highlight the potential of Gaana for brands and advertisers whilst scaling up our revenues. The end goal is to hit 500 million users in the next 2 years.