Tag Archives: download

MySwar App Update On iOS – Going Free!

We released a new version of the MySwar app on iOS yesterday. This update makes the app free and displays banner ads. There is an option to make an in-app purchase to remove the ads for a period of 1 year (Upgrade option in Settings).

We realize that some of you have purchased the app only recently and this move may appear unfair. To address this scenario – we ask you to send us an email at admin@myswar.co with your iOS device UDID and we will help you get back to the ad-free version (for one year). If you need help figuring out the UDID, let us know and we’ll help you.

If you still haven’t downloaded the app, there really is no excuse now. Get it from here: https://itunes.apple.com/app/myswar/id622503117?ls=1&mt=8

The Android app was always free and remains free: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mavrix.myswar

MySwar Updates

We shipped a few cool updates to MySwar this morning:

  • Flipkart’s digital music service, Flyte, is now available as a purchase option on the MySwar website. At the album level, you will now see iTunes, Flipkart (for audio CD) and Flyte as options and at the song level iTunes and Flyte. This is subject to availability on iTunes and Flipkart. Currently, we have updated these links for the albums released in 2013 and 2012. We will make links available for the rest of the albums over the next few weeks.Purchase Options
  • Song previews are now available for Indian users. The previews are sourced from iTunes.
  • The Advanced Search results page now displays the number of songs.Advanced Search Result Count
  • Ability to Refresh recommendations in the Discover page (logged in users). We also tuned this page to load faster.
  • Also a number of other improvements and bug fixes.

Hope you like these improvements. Also, if you still haven’t downloaded our mobile app yet, please consider yourself gently nudged to do so. You can find the download links here.

iTunes Quietly Launches Music And Films In India (Links Available On MySwar)

Digital India was abuzz yesterday with news of iTunes launching its music and films stores in India. I particularly liked the following posts covering the launch:

http://nh7.in/indiecision/2012/12/04/rip-and-run-itunes-india-store-is-finally-here

http://www.medianama.com/2012/12/223-apple-finally-extends-itunes-store-to-india/

While the buzz is mostly positive:

 

,there were some who were not very impressed, like in this comment thread on Medianama.

I think the iTunes launch is a great step forward for digital music in India and while it will have no impact on hard-core freeloaders, it will have huge appeal for people who want easy access to digital music.

iTunes links were already available on MySwar.in in US, UK, Canada. Starting yesterday, iTunes links are available in India as well. The shopping cart icons at the song level link to iTunes India and the album level to Flipkart. This is just a quick fix and we are working on improving this feature.

Why People Don’t Talk About Pirate Consumers

I engaged in a long debate on Twitter yesterday with popular blogger, Karthik Srinivasan (entire conversation at the end of his post). To boil things down, I was asking why illegal downloaders don’t get called out for doing the wrong thing and his point was that it was not really going to make a difference. That argument didn’t sit well with me because ever since social media gave all of us a microphone, we haven’t really held back on anything just because nobody was listening. People rant about plagiarism (Heck, Karthik runs a blog dedicated to it!), traffic, politicians, air travel and noisy neighbours. Why are they wishy-washy about illegal downloading?

Yesterday’s Twitter debate didn’t answer that question for me, so I decided to write about the potential reasons for the deafening silence on this subject.

Publishers are not doing enough to solve service and content availability issues. I have written earlier about how difficult it is sometimes to get hold of content legally. It is hard to not empathize with people who depend on illegal sources when they can’t get it legally.

Piracy is seen as a victimless crime. People don’t see piracy as impacting individuals directly. In fact, some people feel that piracy works as a marketing tool and helps artists increase their fan-base. As for the content publishers, they’re not really losing any money and if they are, the greedy corporations deserve it.

Pirates have managed to spin themselves as being hip and anti-establishment. They have managed to project themselves as people who are helping solve the service and availability issues that exist in the market today. It’s another matter that they also distribute content that is available legally and easily. Nobody wants to call out the pirates unless it’s someone like Kim Dotcom who does not manage his PR as well as his peers have.

People don’t want to say things that others don’t want to listen to. If a large number of your followers, readers, etc. are illegal downloaders (which I believe is the case in India today), calling them out is not really going to help you win the social media popularity contest. In fact, being soft on piracy is probably going to win you brownie points. My guess is that I am not winning any with this and yesterday’s post.

People with a voice (bloggers, influencers, journalists, etc.) are engaging in piracy themselves. Not only are they not in a position to speak out against piracy, they, in fact, have to find justifications for their actions so they can retain their high moral ground. Nobody likes to feel guilty.

Why are you not calling out illegal downloaders?

beastoftraal
You Will Never Kill Piracy, and Piracy Will Never Kill You http://t.co/SGy622uE “Realize piracy is a service problem”
2/20/12 10:40 AM
taparam
@beastoftraal Intellectual, theoretical & flawed. Most people I know who download stuff do it because they don’t want to pay for stuff.
2/20/12 10:51 AM
beastoftraal
@taparam Yes, I’m aware of that. Service is an issue that has not been tried adequately. Difference in timing of availability, in specific.
2/20/12 10:59 AM
taparam
@beastoftraal My problem is that the valid argument of service/availability gives a clean chit to a lot of freeloaders.
2/20/12 11:02 AM
beastoftraal
@taparam Unless we try, how do we know that freeloaders are freeloaders just for the heck of it? They will exist anyway, no?
2/20/12 11:03 AM
taparam
@beastoftraal People freeload even when there are no service/avl issues. Too many people taking easy/cool route of railing against “system”.
2/20/12 11:19 AM
beastoftraal
@taparam Have we given people enough paid options that are convenient to opt for?
2/20/12 11:22 AM
taparam
@beastoftraal Last week you got a recco to buy a cheaper, DOS based laptop because you can get a Windows CD “anywhere”. What was that about?
2/20/12 11:23 AM
beastoftraal
@taparam Buying Windows CD separately. I can order it along with the DOS-based laptop and can choose a cheaper version.
2/20/12 11:25 AM
taparam
@beastoftraal That’s you. Am positive the guy making the recco didn’t have a purchase in mind.
2/20/12 11:26 AM
beastoftraal
@taparam The only other option in that model was the same config with Win premium something. Base home version would do for me.
2/20/12 11:26 AM
beastoftraal
@taparam Why should that be a problem? If there was a Win-based cheaper option, assumption is, he’d have chosen that.
2/20/12 11:27 AM
beastoftraal
.@taparam Don’t you think we/RIAA/everybody is talking ONLY about freeloading pirates right now? 🙂 And not about service *at all*?
2/20/12 12:02 PM
taparam
@beastoftraal Can you point me to discussions on moral/ethical issues around piracy? Not focussing on Kim Dotcoms but on consumers.Genuine q
2/20/12 12:58 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam Haven’t come across any on moral/ethics of it – best dealt with churches, IMO. Pointless to go in that direction. If that be the…
2/20/12 1:26 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam …case, we should also have periodic articles on rape and theft, and how both are ethically wrong, leave alone legally.
2/20/12 1:27 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam This Techdirt piece tries to be more sane – dissecting numbers quoted by RIAA/industry http://t.co/QGgeIAhO
2/20/12 1:29 PM
taparam
@beastoftraal Disagree that morality should be left to religion. Society must decide. Solid examples of religion messing up morality.
2/20/12 2:11 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam Didn’t mean it that way; just meant that there’s nothing solid to put forward, as an argument, in the moral debate. That it’s 1/2
2/20/12 2:12 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam 2/2 obvious, but given the endless supply, people don;t see it as wrong. Question then is, if moral argument has any point at all.
2/20/12 2:13 PM
taparam
@beastoftraal Think the discussion is important. Problem in India is widespread. Many of my friends/relatives download. Feel bad.
2/20/12 2:27 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam When people buy pirated CDs on the roadside, of films that released the previous day, why should this be any badder?
2/20/12 2:29 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam There is no point in the ‘It is wrong, morally/legally. You could go to jail’ argument. Only Burma Bazaar pirates are arrested…
2/20/12 2:29 PM
beastoftraal
@taparam …’cos they do it in large scale. Individual downloaders may never feel anything wrong whatever media writes about morals here.
2/20/12 2:30 PM

 

Piracy Is Mainstream

I’ve been an anti-piracy advocate in my friend circle for many years now. Over time though, I realized that people like me were rare and specially in India, we became outcasts. Friends and relatives look at me like I am nuts when I refuse to lend them my iPod so they can copy songs from it. The burden of guilt was specially heavy when I refused to copy songs on a USB drive for my niece (I bought her CDs instead). It has now come to pass that I have to exercise caution while expressing my views on piracy and people who indulge in piracy don’t give a damn! How the heck did we get to this stage?

Take this exchange on Twitter  –

Guy 1 – “I notice it is without Windows and only with DOS. Possible reason for low price I suppose.”

Guy 2 – “Yes comes with DOS. You can get the windows CD anywhere. I bought this laptop 2 months ago. It’s amazing.”

Guy 2 is recommending a lower-priced laptop which does not have Windows on it because “you can get windows CD anywhere”. In other words, why pay for something when you can get a pirated copy for free. I found this conversation disturbing to say the least:

  1. Guy 2 is advocating piracy in public and doesn’t give a damn
  2. This exchange has a fairly wide audience. Guy 2 has 6000+ followers and Guy 1 has almost 7000 followers and my guess is that they share many followers (like me) who are following this exchange.

It’s important to point out that Guy 1 is asking an innocent question and from what I know of him (via his tweets and blog posts) someone who goes out of his way to get stuff legally.

This kind of exchange is hardly an exception. Conversations on socials networks range from discreet (sanitized references to piracy like “download”, “link please”, “linkesh”, “pdf version”) to “naughty” (nudges and winks indicated through an assortment of smileys) to outright blatant (railing against the ban of pirate sites).

As I have said in a previous post, one of the root causes of piracy is the poor availability of content from legal sources. While I don’t support that argument, I do understand it. The other root cause is simply people not wanting to pay for stuff. Many of these people rationalize their “downloading” ways by citing arguments that sound intellectual but are basically flawed – “Why should I pay for bad quality content?”, “Unfair pricing”, “Big companies are greedy”, “Sharing is good for content creators”, etc).

However, the biggest emerging cause for piracy seems to be the fact that people don’t even think of unpaid downloads as piracy. It has become mainstream. How can something be wrong if everyone is doing it? This is probably the single biggest problem the music industry faces today.

Digital Music Landscape III: Consumption

[This is the concluding part of a three-part post on the Digital Music Landscape. You can read the first post and the second post to get up to speed]

Let’s look at the services that exist in the West against the services for Indian music in an attempt to look at how music recommendations serve people’s needs. In the previous posts, we’ve discussed a few approaches for recommendation. Let’s pair that up against the following music consumption models:

  • Downloads: Wherein the service allows you to browse and download songs for purchase. Most services allow downloaded songs to be played in any device/player but certain services provide DRM-restricted songs. Such songs can only be played on certain devices or certain players.
  • On-demand streaming: The user can listen to any music, any time. These services are either free (ad-supported) or based on a subscription plan. Increasingly, the free plans are getting capped to a limited amount of music.
  • Non-Interactive streaming: The service is pre-programmed with content,  allowing users to only skip tracks and provide ratings. The content is either delivered through a recommendation engine based on the users’ taste or curated by experts.

Download services limit the number of songs people can listen to (only purchased songs) while streaming offers potentially unlimited number of songs for listening. On the other hand, downloaded songs can be listened to anytime, anywhere. Whereas, streaming services typically require an internet connection. The line between download and stream services is blurring though, as the download services are providing cloud-based features in addition to song previews; and streaming services are allowing downloads either directly or through other download services.

Music Consumption – Mature Markets

ServiceConsumption modelRecommendation approach based on
DownloadOn-demandNon-interactiveMusical attributesWisdom of the CrowdsExpert curation
iTunes
Amazon
Napster
Emusic
Rhapsody
Last.fm
Grooveshark
Spotify
Pandora
Live365
Thesixtyone
Wearehunted

Music Consumption – India

ServiceConsumption modelRecommendation approach based on
DowloadOn-DemandNon-InteractiveMusical attributesWisdom of the CrowdsExpert curation
Gaana
Saavn
Dhingana
Musicindiaonline
Smashits
Raaga
NH7
Hungama

A more detailed look at the Indian music services show that:

  • There are fewer consumption choices in India.
  • There is very little differentiation between various services.
  • The business model behind some of these services is not evident. All streaming services are free to users. Do they make enough money from ads? What about those that don’t even show ads?
  • Services are in the early stages of building recommendation capabilities. Recommendations from Indian services are either poor or limited (e.g.: NH7 does a pretty good job but serves a niche).
  • A lot of popular Indian music is made for films and has unique factors driving people’s interests – music directors, singers, lyricists, actors on which they are filmed, etc. These factors don’t come into play for non-Indian music.
  • Interest in multiples languages need to be catered to.
  • Services have big holes in their song catalogs because of limitations in their licensing agreements.

Given all these challenges, the quest is still on for a good, Indian music service that is comparable to an iTunes or a Spotify. While we’re not launching a music consumption service (not yet at least!), we at Mavrix keenly watch this space because we’re trying to solve one of the challenges listed above – that of serving good recommendations. We will be launching MySwar in a few days as a first step in this journey.

Coke Studio at MTV – Songs For Sale and Minicert Review

If you hadn’t already heard, the songs from the Coke Studio India are up for sale.

iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTune Canada     Flipkart

If you want to check out reviews before buying, your best bet is probably Music Aloud. After my (ahem, hugely popular) post supporting by Coke Studio, I have been a passive, disengaged spectator. I still support the program but I think it needs to produce at least one truly magical song for it to deliver on its promise. I am still waiting for that song.

On a separate note, I went for the Coke Studio Minicert gig at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore. The lineup was interesting – Tochi Raina, Mathangi Rajashekhar, Sanjeev Thomas and Papon – and the music was good for the most part. Leslie Lewis made a surprise appearance for the last song.

Tochi Raina sang a couple of songs and disappeared for the rest of the show. Mathangi sang really well, but as a friend commented, her Carnatic parts did not register. May have been the acoustics of the place. Sanjeev Thomas was mercurial. He got the only encore for the night but also missed his cue and had to be rescued by Mathangi. Papon, for me, was the find of the evening. He is young, lights up the stage and a brilliant singer. He was equally good singing Assamese folk and backing up Mathangi with semi-classical vocals.

A good show overall, BUT, before you buy the ticket for the minicert in your city, I recommend you find out what it will buy you. In this particular gig, the main space for the audience was off-limits for us. It looked like this space was reserved for the event sponsors. It would have been nice if HRC has told us about this beforehand. Instead they took our money, and made us feel like we were gate-crashing the party – not cool.

And before I forget – Did you know that the songs from the Pakistani edition of Coke Studio (Season 2 and 3) were available on iTunes? I found out only recently.

Season 2 – iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTunes Canada
Season 3 – iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTunes Canada

 
[Correction, Aug 23: It’s Sanjeev Thomas, not Sanjay Thomas.]
 

 

Links For Buying Stuff (Mainly Music)

You may have noticed links leading to iTunes and Flipkart from our website. A few things about these links:

  • They are affiliate links. If you click through these links and buy something, we get a small commission.
  • There are up to 4 links for each item (if we can find them) – one for each country – US, UK, Canada and India. The iTunes links are for people based in US, UK and Canada. The Flipkart links are for people based in India.
  • The iTunes links point to track downloads. Flipkart links point to CDs.

While these links can be found in various posts, we’re consistently adding them in our weekly Freaky Friday Playlist feature.

If you do follow through these links and make purchases – a) Thanks!, b) Please let us know (admin@mavrix.in) if you encounter any issues while doing so.

Why Won’t Apple’s iCloud Stream Music?

Since Apple’s big iCloud announcement a couple of days ago, the internet has been abuzz with people expressing disappointment at the iCloud not going far enough when it came to music (like here, and here). What did Apple miss? Streaming.

Broadly, there seem to be two camps of people when it comes to music listening preference – one that prefers listening to streaming music (via services like Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, Raaga, Saavn) and the other that prefers owned music played locally on their computers, mobile phones, media players or other devices. But even those who prefer owning music (like I do), probably use streaming as an option to discover and sample before they buy.

So, regardless of your listening preferences, you may feel that iCloud missed the bus by not allowing streaming of music via subscription. Amazon Cloud and Google Music Beta also missed that same bus, by the way. They allow streaming but only of the music you already own. In fact, Amazon actually charges you for it. (Duh?!) Google has conveniently not revealed its pricing.

Coming back to iCloud. Streaming of purchased music may not make sense, but why not give customers the option to stream music they don’t own as well as buy songs if they choose to?

My guess is that it could be due to the following reasons:

  1. Profitability – Apple has a predictably profitable model of selling music through iTunes. On the other hand, streaming services have struggled for profitability, whether it’s the ad-supported Pandora, or subscription-based Spotify. And while streaming services are becoming increasingly popular, they still do not represent a sizeable enough market for Apple to be interested (not yet at least).
  2. Risk – iCloud is going to put considerable pressure on Apple’s resources (including their cloud infrastructure) and they know it. Why do you think Steve Jobs showed off the pictures of their huge server farm? Apple wants to come back strongly after MobileMe’s failure (Steve Jobs described it as “Not our finest hour” in the keynote at WWDC), and is not willing to take on the risk associated with the burden of streaming music.
  3. Concerns around bandwidth usage – A few days ago, I wrote a post about why 3G economics don’t work for streaming music in India. According to Paul Lamere, a music+tech guru and a passionate supporter of music subscription services, people in the US can get an unlimited 3G data plan “for the cost of a good meal”. That may be the case today but even in the US, people are becoming more aware of their rapidly increasing mobile bandwidth usage and carriers are shutting down unlimited data plans. Perhaps Apple believes that the consumers’ and the carriers’ increased sensitivity to bandwidth usage may adversely impact the streaming music market.