Tag Archives: startups

Change in MySwar domain

Earlier this week, some of us observed that myswar.com was inaccessible. We had recently moved to a new hosting provider and our first thought was that it was an issue at their end. Further investigation, however, revealed that we were most likely the target of a court order that had ISPs blocking our website. The court order is backed by Section 169A of the IT Act, 2008. We’re not the first website to have been subjected to this arbitrary and draconian law. Websites like Vimeo, Github and Mouthshut have been subjected to such blocks in the past.

One of the biggest issues of such blocks is that the targets have no idea who initiated the block and why. While we will explore legal options to remove the block, with our limited resources, this is going to be extremely difficult.

To work around this issue in the short term, we have moved our domain to http://myswar.in. This comes at great cost to us in terms of our branding and the goodwill of users who’ve encouraged us through the years. Unfortunately, this appears to be our best option for now. The block has also resulted in our apps not working. We’re working to publish the updated versions of the apps by next week.

As experts have noted, copyright owners are increasingly using court orders to mass block torrents and piracy sites around the time major films are released. Unfortunately, this process unfairly sweeps up legal, smaller websites like ours. In an attempt to address this problem, we will defer publishing of film albums to after this period.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our users and hope that they’ll stay with us while we figure out a long term solution.

MySwar App Now Available In Hindi

Updated on Mar 12, 2015: The MySwar Android app is also available in Hindi now.

IMG_2018

A little more than a year ago, we had announced the availability of content on MySwar in Hindi in addition to English. We finally got to roll out an update that makes Hindi content available on the MySwar iOS app and the MySwar Android app as well.

Pretty much all content on the app, artist bios and trivia being exceptions, is now available in Hindi. Just go to Settings -> Language -> Choose “हिन्दी में” and Voila! As in the website, regardless of the Language setting in the app, you can search for songs/albums/artists by typing in either English or Devanagari.

Here’s a quick view of how the language setting works:

IMG_2016IMG_2017IMG_2018IMG_2019IMG_2020IMG_2021

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.

Mavrix Blog – The Most Popular Posts and Our Favourites

We completed of one year of our blog on November 3 and I thought this would be a good time to do the customary round-up of our most popular posts and the posts that we, at Mavrix, like the most. Here goes:

Most Popular

Coke Studio India Must Be Cheered

People – Please Get Off A.R. Rahman’s Back

R.D. Burman’s Top 10 Lesser Known Songs

Found! The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle! (Meet Our Tech Wiz)

Coming Soon! The Complete Guide To Hindi Film Music

 

Our Favorite

Indian music needs a kick in the butt

Is Bollywood Overdose killing Indian music?

Music Wants To Be Free

Musicians Are A Lot Like Technology Startups

Discovery vs Search

Mavrix Blog – Completed 1 Year, 200 Posts

The first post on our blog was published last Diwali, on November 3, 2010. Today we complete 1 year of the Mavrix blog and we are extremely kicked that we have published 200 posts as of today. That’s one post every other day for 1 year!

We stepped up our posting frequency in the last few days deliberately to meet the 200 post milestone because a round number sounds a lot nicer! I must also admit that about 50 of these are auto-generated weekly Twitter digests, i.e. a weekly summary of all tweets going out from the @mavrixin account. Still a big deal, won’t you say?

My original intent to start the blog was to give some sense of assurance to potential employees that I was not a fly-by-night operator. Over the last year, I’ve realized that a blog does a lot more than that:

  1. It helps founders create an online, public identity for themselves. This is specially important if you happen to be an introvert like me, because your blog will help you open up and put yourself out there.
  2. It helps you think through what you want your company to be about, what kind of team you want, what market you want to reach out to. It essentially helps you think through and adjust your business plan as you build your company. Blogs are also a great way to communicate all this thinking to your team, potential employees, users and business partners.
  3. It helps develop the identity and voice of your company. I am not proud of some of my early posts. Some were too personal, some off-topic. With feedback from the team and our followers, we’ve adjusted the type of content we post. We continue to learn and adjust.
  4. Blogs help you find customers before you’re ready to launch your product. We found a small but loyal set of followers through the blog. Many of these people were among the first to sign-up for MySwar.
  5. For you and people in your team, your blog is a good channel to express yourselves and develop additional skills (writing, social media, HTML, etc.).
  6. Blogs help develop Google love for your product before you launch. A fair number of the visits to our blog are through Google searches and a number of these visits translate to a visit to MySwar’s teaser page. Not bad, eh?
  7. The power of social media is evident but unless you’re delivering content, your presence on these media is pointless. A blog is a great way to generate that content.

I could go on and on.

Many people have said it before but given that I still see many small businesses without blogs, I don’t mind repeating – If you’re starting a company, specially one that targets the consumer internet, one of the first things you should do is start a blog and post actively.

Mavrix Monthly Update October-2011

  • Announced beta launch. We announced the beta launch of MySwar a few days ago. Here is a synopsis of some early responses.
  • Winding up. We spent the entire month reviewing, and in some cases re-reviewing, the content we have put together. By the time we are through, we would have reviewed the analysis of more than 15% of all the songs. We’ll still have mistakes but despite that our content will be the most comprehensive and accurate online source of information on Hindi film music.
  • Miscellaneous. A whole bunch of other things in progress including associating songs/albums in our DB with corresponding iTunes and Flipkart links. We are seeding the database with trivia, external reviews (we’ve used just one source for now – Millblog) and award information (Filmfare and National Awards).
  • Testing. A lot of testing done and bugs found. Once they’re fixed, our content team will test the app before unleashing it to the beta users. Another few days and we should be done.
  • Planning beyond launch. We’re lining up features we have prioritized for post-launch releases. As the regular readers might know, we’re launching with the 1971 – 2011 period. We will move on to the pre-70s decades post launch.

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.

MySwar Beta Announcement – Reactions And How We Are Responding

I announced the MySwar beta a few days ago on this blog, on our Twitter account, our Facebook page, directly to a few people who I view as early adopters and music geeks and also a forum called RMIM. All of us at Mavrix also shared the announcement with friends and family.

While I haven’t actively promoted MySwar yet, the responses I have received so far have given me some inkling of how MySwar will be received at launch. I also feel that the initial response has helped me prepare better for the launch.

Here’s a summary of the initial reaction and my assessment of how I should address them at launch.

We hate the idea. This response completely blind-sided me. Music is one of those things that evoke extreme reactions and I should have anticipated some of these responses. But it’s one thing to watch people flame others and completely another to be at the receiving end. You can read the gory details in this thread but to summarize – I was called stupid, a liar and also a “pig” among other things. After my initial attempts to reason with these people, I realize that I was engaging in a pointless exercise.

Ignore. While this constituency is very vocal, it’s also fringe. They’re best ignored because they’re not the kind of customers I want anyway. To take these reactions in stride, it’s essential to develop a thick skin.

 

Sounds interesting but can you deliver? Many people were skeptical because they felt that the scope of MySwar was very big/complex/difficult. I am sure my ambitious analogy – “digitized Geet Kosh on steroids” – also contributed to the skepticism. Some people wondered if I should have avoided the Geet Kosh reference. [For people who haven’t heard of the Hindi Film Geet Kosh – it’s like the Bible for Hindi film music geeks. Uh oh, will the people who revere the Bible come after me now?!] I stand behind my decision to use the Geet Kosh reference – I view the analogy as a tribute and I see nothing wrong in setting a high bar for MySwar. In fact, I take the skepticism positively. It tells me that people appreciate that the effort behind MySwar is not trivial.

Deliver. Delivering what we’re promising is the only response. We’re putting our heads down and focusing on wrapping up the work we’ve done in the past few months. Sure, we’ll make mistakes but I believe our passion and effort will shine through in what we deliver.

 

Sounds great! Can’t wait to get our hands on it. This response obviously came from friends and family. I was pleasantly surprised that it also came from some complete strangers.

Sincerely thank them. Forget about other people’s cynicism, I myself have been racked by periods of doubt several times over the last few months. So when people offer encouragement and support, I lap it up happily. My own conviction has helped but Mavrix couldn’t have made it this far without the love it has received from some very kind people.

Thank You Steve Jobs

For opening up a whole new world of music to me.

For giving me wonderful experiences through your magical products.

For being a source of inspiration and teaching me important lessons. Through your Stanford commencement speech. Through your Thoughts on Music. Through your many keynotes. Most importantly, through the act of building a great company that built great products.