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|June 20, 2001||
A new sound...
Vivek Fernandes in Bombay
Digital distribution is the buzzword doing the rounds of the music industry, with the internet emerging as the hottest distribution medium.
Along the lines of the now-infamous Napster, comes Soundbuzz, a digital music aggregator, which hopes to change the face of music retailing business forever.
Present in nine markets from India and Taiwan to Hong Kong and Australia, Soundbuzz, co-founded in 1999 by ex-MTV Director Asia and Senior VP MTV Networks Asia, Sudhanshu Saroonwala, hopes to carve a niche for itself by providing a one-stop shop for the music media needs of consumers by offering a range of services to facilitate music commerce.
Soundbuzz has roped in the biggies of the Indian recording industry -- Tips, Times Music, Archies Music, EMI Virgin, Lahari and BMG Crescendo as well as global labels, BMG Asia Pacific and EMI as its content partners.
With Creative Technologies and the National Science and Technology Board Singapore as its strategic investment partners, Microsoft Windows Media as its technology partner, and over 25 distribution partners including MSN, Lycos and Yahoo, Soundbuzz endeavors to pioneer this revolution of secure digital music sale.
These partnerships enable Soundbuzz to offer repertoire of artistes' music and movie soundtracks such as Yaadein, Fiza and Mission Kashmir for secure commercial digital distribution through various distribution channels such as through the internet (soundbuzz.com), computer manufacturers and wireless devices (mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants -- PDAs -- etc).
"While devising commercial applications, we have to keep in mind three critical aspects: Compelling content to create demand; ease of use of encrypted products and flexibility," says Saroonwala.
"We will create a singles market for music lovers everywhere. Consumers will not be required to purchase an entire album but can choose the songs they want from over 50,000 current and catalogue songs from Hindi film and Indipop to Tamil repertoire," he adds.
Kumar Taurani, Chairman and MD, Tips Industries, plans to go all out and capitalise on their timely entry of selling its music catalogue via secure internet digital downloads. The Indian music industry -- now valued at Rs 12.5 billion -- would grow to Rs 19 billion by the year 2005, he feels. The Internet has, he immense potential as a source of music distribution if it was better exploited and piracy was curbed.
He said this medium provided the consumer with the music of his choice at the lowest secured delivery costs while still fully covering the company's costs.
With the entire catalogue available at soundbuzz.com, the service, he says, became extremely user-friendly and he hopes to revive the label's older collections.
Suresh Thomas of BMG Crescendo said that with the legitimisation of digital distribution, the potential for record companies was huge.
"Soundbuzz is the pioneer of digital distribution in Asia. It's going to be a long road to make this profitable, but we need to start somewhere. We are excited to be part of Soundbuzz," he said.
Arun Arora, CEO, Times Music, says, "Our partnership with Soundbuzz reflects our acknowledgement of the power of the digital music platform. Times Music is proud to be one of the pioneers to embrace this new platform and make our music available to Indians here and abroad through Soundbuzz."
Soundbuzz's services include:
Soundbuzz's offline business model also includes hardware bundling (digital wholesale), digital music stores, wireless music applications (copyrighted mobile phone ringing tones, for example), encrypted and enhanced CDs, prepaid downloads, subscriptions and music kiosks.
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