Indians living abroad can now listen to songs from home with only a personal computer, a 64Kbps Internet connection and $9.90 (Rs400) a month.
Satellite radio firm WorldSpace India Pvt. Ltd and Internet giant MSN India have tied up to offer Carnatic, Hindustani classical music as well as Kannada, Telugu and Hindi film music on the Web.
The music will be available everywhere the Internet is available, but the promoters expect Indians abroad to be the prime target in the near term. The two partners would not reveal their revenue targets or their revenue share arrangement, but base much of their market potential on non-resident Indian (NRI) statistics, which is led by Asia with 40% NRIs, West Asia with 16% and North America with 16.5%.
“They say nostalgia is a very powerful driver and memory is the shortest trip home. We are helping them (NRIs) on that,” said Velu Shankar, senior adviser on content and programming at WorldSpace.
Jaspreet Bindra, India country manager, online service group, Microsoft Corp., said this was a natural partnership for them as
MSN is focusing on providing entertainment and education to their consumers.
Natural partnership: Musician A.R. Rahman is WorldSpace’s brand ambassador. Promoters of the firm expect NRIs to be the prime target.
Satellite radio is a relatively new concept worldwide that started in the US in 1992, but picked up speed over the last three years. This format challenges?the?traditional?radio system in that it is free of advertisements, but not free in cost.
XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio dominate the market in North America with 14 billion subscribers combined and shows with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey. XM and Sirius have also used the Web as another distribution medium.
WorldSpace dominates in Asia, although it reaches across Europe, Africa, Asia, and West Asia, and has 170,000 subscribers in India.
Musician A.R. Rahman is WorldSpace’s brand ambassador and the face of this partnership. The website www.in.msn.com/worldspace (a beta site) is subscription-based that can be done through on-line registration, while the radio also requires the purchase of the radio at upwards of $70 with about a $7 monthly fee. The Internet offers five stations, while the radio offers 40.