Yonder Music and Robi, the mobile network service provider, have partnered together to bring free music to Bangladeshi music lovers. This is the first of its kind in Bangladesh and the customers don’t pay anything for this service. The app is available on App Store and Google Play.
Robi users will be able to download the Yonder Music app and listen to the entire music collection free of cost. The app also allows using content offline without limitations. Other network users will be getting a free trial until July 7.
Yonder Music and Robi have already got a formidable number of prominent artists on board. The artists include James, LRB, Miles, Warfaze, Aurthohin, Habib Wahid, Arnob, Bappa Mazumder, Balam, Elita, Kona, Nemesis, Shunno, Chirkutt, Asif Akbar, Zooel and Hridoy among many others.
Aditya Summanwar, the president of Yonder Music, Asia, is currently in Dhaka. We sat down with Aditya this week for an exclusive interview.
Please explain to our readers what is Yonder Music.
Yonder Music is a music streaming service for the masses that brings to people what they actually want. When it became possible to digitize the contents people became able to distribute it digitally. Along with that came piracy, because of the demand. Piracy became rampant and immediately music revenues started declining. CDs became a format that people lost interest in; they did not want to spend money on buying CDs. They wanted to download them from Napster. Napster came about and it said that music should be free. But then Napster got sued and the rest is history.
Soon after that, there came a phase where the spotlight was turned to distribution existing channels and delivering music through them. This brought about the arrival of music on PCs, the Internet, and streaming services – all services available through payment. But by that time, consumers were already well accustomed to piracy and comfortable with not having to pay for music. But we all know that if you do not pay for content it doesn’t get created. Because their work is a means to earn livelihoods, artists need to make money from their creativity.
So, Yonder is a proposition to solve that problem. For instance, let’s say a hundred people are listening to music. Out of those 100 people only one person wants to pay for it. That one person is essentially carrying the load of the rest. We call ourselves the music service of the 99 percent. And the reason we say this is because we do business arrangements with operators that have an existing customer base and they are already paying to acquire these customers. So, what we do is make music free for the end user. What we take from the telecom companies is a fee per user, which is significantly less than what that telecom company would pay to acquire that customer anyway. The companies spend large sums to gain customers through many different kinds of marketing. But by giving away free music for a fraction of that marketing cost, you can attract more people to your network.
The customer doesn’t have to pay anything. All he has to do is what he is already doing. He is using his mobile phone network service and as a part of that he gets Yonder. And that gives access to millions of songs.
Do you think that we can truly get past piracy?
I don’t think it will ever go away completely. But the hope is that it will reduce it significantly. There will always be people who would not want to pay for music.
We want to make sure that money is going back to the artists so that artists are encouraged in their work and they can stay inspired to create music for the masses.
You started your services in Malaysia first. What kind of response did you get there?
It went excellent. Unfortunately I can’t disclose all the numbers and stats but I do have a way of explaining this and hopefully in a convincing fashion. When we do a deal with a teleco, there are different motivations that drive the telecom companies to do a deal with us…in Malaysia the motivation is to get customers from other network providers because there is a hundred and ten percent mobile penetration. In Bangladesh the motivation factors are different.
In Malaysia the customers don’t pay for data when using Yonder. So, if you are on a 2 GB data pack you are not losing that data when you use Yonder. So, the primary objective is to get customers who are using other services or they want to prevent customers from moving away to other networks.
We know from the data that since we launched we have consistently outperformed any other music service in Malaysia, in terms of data consumption. We have also observed from raw statistics that the churn rate is higher with the customers that don’t use Yonder.
Why have you decided to come to Bangladesh?
We look at the trends and behaviours in what we call the frontier markets. We look for the places where mobile usage is on the rise or where there is already significant use, people are transitioning from feature phones to smart phones, and where data packages can be sold.
Essentially, our market is where telecom businesses have the scope and need to incentivize customers to use data. We don’t look at the biggest and already saturated markets. In places like Bangladesh people don’t have the plethora of choices. Also in places where the GDP is really low the people’s propensity to pay is less too.
So, that is why our model is so compelling.
What you will be offering that your competitors aren’t offering?
In terms of money it doesn’t get any better than free content, unless I start giving you money (laughs). So, that’s big thing. And there is the music collection. We are offering the biggest music library.
Unlike our competitions, we carry both international and domestic music. We have exclusive contents. We intend to be extremely local, we want to get close to the people, understand what they want and give that to them.
Do you want to say something Bangladeshi music listeners?
We have interesting collaborations and exciting projects coming up throughout the year. I don’t want to disclose the projects; that will spoil the surprise. But there are a lot of interesting things that we have planned…actually these aren’t plans, they are ongoing projects. So, you should expect mind blowing music events.