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This is a time when all the major tech services are eyeing to tap into the digital distribution space in India. Apple finally brought its iTunes Store in the country. Flyte by Flipkart is a serious attempt to get people to download legal content online. Then, we have Hungama which has recently been launched in its HTML5 avatar. There is a lot of space for music distribution here but what about Indie artists and music? There is one such service which seeks to be the exclusive destination for Independent music lovers. It is called MusicFellas and has been around for a month. It was previously in private beta for sometime. We take a look and see what it is all about.
From the outset you realize that the website is extremely modern in design, UI and UX. It feels like a great product. Everything is nice, clean and simply works. I am sure a fair bit of work has gone into this make it look like that. The website lets you search for (rather discover) some awesome Independent artists, listen to their songs and buy them. There is a ‘Radio’ feature which lets you listen to songs on the website based on the genre you select. There is a social networking feature too! All your activity is posted on a news feed. You can follow people and be followed. You can like artists too! Average price for every song on the service is around Rs. 10 – Rs. 15. This is pretty cool and provides a very good platform for local and underground artists to make money and be supported by their listeners.
The website works really well and I have not faced any hiccup in terms of functionality and usage. Also, it is extremely well designed in my opinion. It has the potential to become a hub of Indie music in India. Indian Indie is just exploding onto the scene with festivals like Weekender becoming popular among the urban youth.Mayank Jain, Gaurav Shahlot and Shubranshu Jain are the people behind this venture and I spoke to Mayank Jain to know more about the service and how it came to be.
1. Can you tell us what Musicfellas is trying to achieve with its service? Is there a specific gap that you are trying to plug?
We are here to give you beautiful experiences with music. Music, we believe, is not just a commodity – it needs to be experienced. And we promise a user – good music, easy discovery and meaningful interactions. There is a gap in the indie music industry of a engaging listening experience which is where we come in.
2. Can you tell us who your main target audience is?
Our target audience is actually anyone who listens to music. The divide between indie and mainstream music is mainly about accessibility – and we believe that if we make it easy for everyone to discover good music, we can get them to explore indie music as well.
3. I like the design and the features that you have built in. Can you share with us the kind of technology and design philosophy that you have used to build the service?
We, like almost everyone else, are big fans of Steve Jobs and the whole minimalism philosophy. And we wanted to do something like that. Design is an area where we’ve probably spent the most time. All throughout, we wanted to build an aesthetically and functionally awesome product and we hope we’ve done that. The process of design used to start with us figuring out what features we want and then working with our designer to put it on the website in the best possible way
4. Musicfellas is also about buying independent music. That’s a big bet. Can you tell us what makes you think that people will pay for music, given that piracy is rampant in the country?
I think that people are already paying for music experiences in some form – live gigs, merchandise etc. It is our effort to give a compelling online experience which user feels worth to pay for. Also, it is not just about buying music, what’s important is to ‘support’ the music you love. It could be by buying, going to gigs or sharing it with your friends or even listening to it. The problem today in the indie music scene in India is not about piracy – I mean it is a problem but at the root of it is the fact that most artists are struggling to get a large audience who listens to their music. There is still a small, niche community of indie music listeners out there – which needs to grow. So, our effort is also about introducing their music to newer audiences (and that is why the full song streaming on our site) apart from making it super easy for people to buy their music. And as artists’ fans grow, I am sure more business models will emerge which will help the artists.
5. There is quite a bit of competition in digital music distribution space. How do you think Musicfellas can rise above the others in the space?
3 things – good design, great music and listening to what users want.
6. So you have been operational since quite a bit now? What are the kind of trends are you seeing in terms of traction? Could you also share some aspects on user behavior on the service?
Yes, we had a public launch on 29th November prior to which we were in 5 weeks private beta. Traction wise we’ve seen lots of repeat users who are actively interacting with the site. In fact, user interactions have been increasing at more than 100% week over week. So this is a sign for us that we have done a good job at UX.
7. What are the kind of lessons you have learnt from running a startup? Share them with us.
Loads – way too many to list. But, the top one is more of a principle than a lesson and which has been vindicated through the course of running a startup - is never compromise on quality. We are always striving for the best quality output in whatever we do – even if it takes more time. Because, you may not know, but users do notice the small things you do to please them – it is the small details that matter and delight your users.
8. Can you tell us what we can expect from MusicFellas in the future?
You can expect lots of good music and an always improving user experience. There are loads of other stuff which we’ve thought of but we’d rather focus on these two things for now.
I am waiting eagerly to see how MusicFellas shapes up. If you happen to be an Indian independent music lover, then you have to check this one out.
Website | Musicfellas