A while back, we reported about Hungama.com’s revamp and how the new HTML5 site was a great improvement on the previous version. Besides being in sync with popular technology and design paradigms, the website now had a inclusive feel. It showed that Hungama was not just about music but also about videos and movies, basically a one-stop media hub for anyone. This was something that all the major streaming services catering to Indian audiences lacked!
Hungama has now brought that same feature packed one-stop shop approach to the mobile world. Today, they announced the launch of Hungama.com’s app for mobile. The launch was presided over by Neeraj Roy, MD and Chairman of Hungama Digital Media and before showing the app he spoke about why mobile makes the most sense for Hungama as a service to target. While I found most of the data to be common knowledge already, it was interesting to see how all those insights gleaned from research were then thrown into the mix while developing their new app. The mobile app is unique in the Indian app ecosystem, because it is crazily ambitious! It aims to provide everything that an Indian consumer would like. Whether it be Bollywood, Devotional, International or any other music genre, the app delivers all of it to the consumer. Furthermore, the feature set includes radio, celeb radio, playlists, lyrics, in depth song info, ability to buy songs, cloud sync, trivia for Bollywood related song, loyalty rewards based on gamification, mood based song selection, a smooth search implementation and a great emphasis on music discovery.
As Neeraj pointed out, all these features have come from unique insights gleaned from their consumer base over the last 2 years. So let us get down to seeing some of these features in detail.
Well, even though Hungama has an inclusive approach towards entertainment, the app is all about music. Hungama’s collection of music which stands at 2 million songs (according to them) by 20,000 artists is pretty much a huge repository to access music from. It goes without saying that you will have a lot of choice because even based on the most liberal estimates, it is way too much music for an average human. This is why their discovery feature is awesome! (more on this in the next section).
As is usual with streaming apps, the app sports a whole lot of genres from Indian devotional music to International pop music and everything in between. The International category is not pretty extensive ( a simple search for Nirvana’s classic Nevermind album didn’t get me anything. However, they have Skrillex’s music). But it is obvious that the guys over at Hungama have the desi music scene covered because of their deep ties with Bollywood music and Indian musicians. (Neeraj did a live call with Suleiman of Salim-Suleiman and Shankar Mahadevan at the launch!)
Besides this, the app sports a radio feature. You can listen to genre specific radio or go for the ‘Celeb radio’ feature. The Celeb Radio feature has artists and Bollywood stars who can select and start listening to their songs and the songs associated with them in the latter case.
You can make playlists, add songs in queue, search songs, update your music preferences, check out the latest songs and playlists being created and have a look at what Hungama recommends. There is a optional feature in the app which lets you access trivia about the music/video you are listening to and even see lyrics.
It is a complicated and busy world these days. If you are one of those people who don’t have the time to search for new music, then the app’s discover feature will help you to listen to songs that you may like without having to search for them.
The discover feature is primarily based on your mood and having selected that you can further select your preferences in terms of genres and language etc. and the app will show you a list of songs. There are other precision features like ‘era of release’ and ‘tempo’. These are superb controls to have and I don’t think anyone has done this in India before. Even the design and accessibility of these controls is done really well. Take a look at the images below and you will see how Hungama has broken out of the traditional app design metaphor that is prevalent among many of the mobile apps being produced in the country.
Video is a separate section in the app and is treated very much like how music is. You can browse a selection of videos that are available on the service and view them at your leisure. If you are a normal user, you will only get to see limited previews of the videos. You will need to upgrade your account to get access to full and unlimited videos.
Account up-gradation is carried out via your phone number (micro-transactions via carriers) for Android and via the App Store for iOS users. The premium version of the app also allows you an advertising free experience.
The app sees a big push towards gamification with a focus on making the whole thing social as well as addictive. Every action you take like playing a song, adding a song to your queue, favoriting a song, commenting on song etc. is recorded by the app and you are given points accordingly. Based on the number of points you get you progress to new levels and get badges depending on what you do on the platform. If you make enough points you can redeem them and buy music tracks and watch videos. This is pretty neat. The gamification aspect can be accessed from a section in the app called ‘My Play’ which has your profile, you song collection, your playlists – basically everything that you have done on the app.
Although, Hungama maybe first music streaming app to introduce gamification (loyalty and rewards), a preliminary sort of gamification concept in a music related app was first introduced by #nwplyng in the country last year.
Hungama’s app is very deeply tied with social media. Sharing songs and playlists is a very big part of their app. It has Facebook, Twitter and Google logins in addition to normal email sign-ins. You can share pretty much everything on social networks using the app, even the lyrics, trivia and the commenting. There is something called ‘My Stream’ which sort of makes a newsfeed out of what your friend (based on your social login) are listening to, thus aiding and abetting in music discovery.
The app is available for free download currently on Google Play, the Apple App Store and Blackberry 10’s App World (this is a lite version). The company said that they are currently working on getting the J2ME and Windows 8 (desktop+phone) apps out soon. Besides they also showed an application for Smart TVs which was pretty nice and nimble.
The app suffers no major issues in performance and is surprisingly smooth despite the feature set. Although I did see some errors while playing a song and searching another song at the same time, it was nothing major because the app started working properly after that hiccup.
Hungama has actually done something big for the streaming music scenario in India. They have suddenly become the only service in the country which offers such a diverse feature set for the Indian audience, no matter who they are or what kind of music they listen to. By putting all of this together, they have taken a strong step towards becoming something akin to an self contained ecosystem of for music in the Indian space. The traction/success of the app now depends on the amount of downloads and the sustained usage and it is too early to tell whether it will edge out the others but I would not rule it out.
Run this app and tell us whether you agree with us or not. We look forward to hearing your views.
Download Link | Hungama Apps