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Summary:

Music servlces like Spotify and Rdio are expanding around the world, but they should take heed in India – a slick, Silicon Valley-built service is already proving a draw with Bollywood fans.

Shinde brothers

Time was, Indian online media meant shoehorning digital content in to low-end Nokia phones, struggling with slow landline broadband pipes or just dialling on-demand phone lines.

But, just as western digital music services like Spotify and Rdio are rolling out to new countries around the world, a similar Indian service, working over HTML5 and latest smartphones, shows India is growing a cloud-centric digital media market of its own.

Dhingana claims 10.5 million active monthly users for its mostly Hindi Bollywood movie soundtracks, boasts of serving over 100 million minutes of music per month and says its mobile apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and, yes, Nokia are downloaded 10,000 times each day.

The service may trade on an offering highly targeted for local tastes, but Dhingana is headquartered in Silicon Valley’s Sunnyvale. Founding brothers Snehal and Swapnil Shinde are product refugees from nearby Yahoo.

“There are two religions in India,” CEO Snehal (pictured, left) tells paidContent. “Bollywood and cricket.

“Unlike in the U.S., where these are two separate businesses, 99 percent of music in India is part of the movies. Hence, the opportunity in India is fivefold compared to the U.S..”

Whilst it may not sound like it, Dhingana, which means a joyous frenzy, certainly looks and feels every inch the modern online music service built in the valley…

Its in-web player remains on-screen as listeners move from page to page, while users can create and share playlists and can rate tracks. Feeding listeners’ habits out through Facebook’s graph  has seen users of the social network listen for double the time.

It could be Rdio, Deezer, Mog, or We7. But Dhingana has the local tunes and the existing market exposure – something western rivals should remember as they weigh whether to extend their current globalisation efforts to India. Dhingana’s 10.5 million active users compares with the 10 million Spotify last disclosed (though this is likely higher now).

Google already launched its first Google Music service, similarly focusing on Bollywood tunes, in India 2010, before doing so in the west in 2011. Other local operators include Nokia, 7digital and Saavn.

Despite the highly local repertoire, only 60 percent of Dhingana’s users are in India. Most of the remaining 40 percent are in America. Dhingana has global rights to stream Bollywood tracks from over 300 labels – rare simplicity in a music business fraught with fractured, territorial licensing.

So what are Dhingana’s prospects?

“The business model is similar to that of Pandora and Spotify,” Snehal Shinde tells paidContent.

“We expect 90 percent of our revenues from branded and premium advertising – banner, rich media, audio and video – and 10 percent via subscriptions.”

(In fact, the majority of Spotify’s revenue is subscriptions, not ads).

The 12-person outfit, which has offices in Pune, India, took a first funding round in February 2011 from Helion and Inventus. Breakeven is targeted for 2014, Shinde has previoulsy said (via MediaNama).

“We will start ramping up our revenue efforts starting Q3 of 2012,” Shinde tells paidContent, without detailing.

“On the content side, we plan to go even deeper into each language and continue to have the biggest legal Indian music content.”

The world’s hottest music markets: a digital map:

  1. Saavn is more popular than this one!

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  2. I’ve read your first sentence for what feels like the hundredth time and I can’t see it as anything other than a typo . . .

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  3. I love Dhingana over Saavn any day. Saavn’s user base is 50% that of Dhingana and their product is quite shallow.

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    1. Nonsense. Saavn dwarfs Dhingana and is still larger than Gaana. I have no horse in this race, but the numbers are public all readily accessible. They’re all
      chasing Saavn, who I bet have raised a lot more money than they let on considering all the advertising they do in India. They definitely need a new web product though.

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      1. Nihal, looks like you have no idea what you are talking about. Saavn does not even have 1m users per month. Raising shit loads of money has got Saavn no where…thats even worst. Throwing money on ads is lame and week. Its quite shameful! They need to learn from Dhingana guys on how products should be built

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      2. Kavita, I have no idea where you’re getting your numbers from? Saavn’s published numbers from several months ago were already over 10MM users per month – it’s only higher at this point. Do some research.

        As for Dhingana, I disagree. Their products are garbage. Completely confused UIs, with no attention to detail.

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  4. Gaana is more popular than dhingana and the other ones. Best designed one also

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  5. This is just pr because the company wants to raise money

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  6. 10.5mm visitors? 3.5mm active unique visitors? This is another cheaply made, misleading infographic. If the 10.5mm visitors are non-active and non-unique, then they are VISITS, not VISITORS. Furthermore, that means each Active Unique Visitor only visits their site 3 times a month… That sucks. Get this crap out of here.

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  7. 10.5mm visitors? 3.5mm active unique visitors? This is another cheaply made, misleading infographic. If the 10.5mm visitors are non-active and non-unique, then they are VISITS, not VISITORS. Furthermore, that means each Active Unique Visitor only visits their site 3 times a month… That sucks. Get this crap out of here.

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  8. 10.5mm visitors? 3.5mm active unique visitors? This is another cheaply made, misleading infographic. If the 10.5mm visitors are non-active and non-unique, then they are VISITS, not VISITORS. Furthermore, that means each Active Unique Visitor only visits their site 3 times a month… That’s terrible. Also, how can an app with only 50k active users through facebook have more active users than Spotify, who has 19.8mm active users on facebook alone? This is textbook number manipulation. Visits are not Active Visitors.

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  9. just another press release masquerading as a report or the real thing?

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