Indiatimes makes a somewhat late entry into the music streaming space with their new website gaana.com, but in many ways it is worth the wait. Sites like Hungama are already well known and with their new television commercial are bound to pick up more users, while others like Saavn.com have also been offering their services for a while.
Gaana.com is based on invites at present, and once you sign in, you will be greeted with an interface that looks nothing like a website. The first thing that comes to mind is in fact Apple’s iTunes media player – the interface is exceedingly slick, and looks good on both the PC and on a tablet.
Rishi Khiani, CEO, Indiatimes.com, said, “The Times Group, being the largest media organisation in the country, has many services related to music in the form of television channels, radio stations and record labels. Gaana.com aims to complete the group’s holistic approach to music. Gaana is not a ‘me too’ offering. While, there are many sites that offer free music streaming, there are gaps between what is offered and the expectations of users with respect to content discovery coupled with social integration.”
The design aesthetic is clearly influenced like a lot of new websites, by the iPad, and is in HTML5, so it will run on the device. The sincere imitation that they do certainly provides a very enjoyable experience – browsing for music, listening to songs, and social integration are all very well managed.
The site is serving both Indian and international music content. There is also a social connect where you can sync with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, which is a very nice touch though ironically there is no sync with iTimes, the Indiatimes social venture.
“Of course, it is meant to be a music discovery engine. More importantly, it is about our listeners, their tastes and their activities. We will look at deeper integration with itimes.com and other social sites in due course,” Khiani added.
That said, the website is definitely one of the best looking interpretations of Internet radio, and with the social connections, offers users a lot. It will also recommend songs to you based on your playlist and has, what Indiatimes is calling, a “mood analyser”. How effective it is, is hard to say at this point, but it’s a nice touch.
There are no ads on the site as yet though. Khiani added, “Yes, there are no ads at this point in time because it is in the Alpha stage. Having said that, a clear monetisation plan is very much in place, ensuring that it is non-intrusive to the user since experience is pivotal to the site. We are exploring a 360 degree approach towards monetisation. It will be a hybrid model encompassing the normal ad based model with other innovative streams, which we think will bring more value to the brands associating with us. The entire aim is to embrace the advertiser and at the same time provide the listener a totally non-intrusive music discovery experience.”
Whether the site is actually going to be a success or not time will tell. They are entering into a sector where there is a lot of competition, and at the end of the day, the content is not really different. Indiatimes has given a compelling experience, but is that going to be enough to bring people away from services that they are already familiar with?