New Delhi: Music is a world within itself, a language that everyone understands. This might be the motto of Sangeethaya.lk, a Sri Lanka-based one-stop web portal for the music industry, including music lovers. The first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region, this website aims to preserve and promote music as a cultural bridge among the various stakeholders of this industry.

“The talent-driven music industry is becoming the fiefdom of the rich and powerful, sidelining the talented individuals who neither have the platform nor the money to market themselves," said Shiromi Arunatileka, co-founder and director of Sangeethaya.lk. “We have tried to bring all the music-related service providers under the umbrella of Sangeethaya.lk to address the financial problems of such people."

Sangeethaya.lk delves into 16 categories of service providers that include singers, musicians, lyricists, music directors, bands, disc jockeys, instrument sellers and event managers. “It took me around four-five months to go through several databases to reach out to the people associated with production, direction, etc.", said Visharadha Sanjeewa Liyanage, co-founder and director of Sangeetha.lk, who is also a professional musician.

Sangeethaya.lk provides an interactive platform to different service providers free of charge. The musical instrument sellers can market their products without incurring any additional cost and buyers can access this e-marketplace globally. The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who are not financially strong, can now exchange goods in no time and music lovers can easily download popular songs.

Not just this, Sangeethaya.lk is a bilingual portal, providing information in English and Sinhala, Sri Lanka’s most spoken language. “Since we have the basic infrastructure that can provide the information in multiple languages, we are hoping to include Tamil and Hindi in our website as well," said the 49-year-old Arunatileka, who is a senior lecturer at University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This music encyclopedia is dependent on Internet connectivity and isn’t free from the point of view implications of the digital divide in Sri Lanka. The service providers find it difficult to access the network on a regular basis.

“It is a huge problem as the SMEs, musicians usually don’t have email addresses. They don’t market online at all. So, we have to resolve these issues and bring them online. Our portal has proven to be a huge success for such people," said Arunatileka.

This initiative had to overcome a challenge from 40 other competitors to win a Spiralation grant, given by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka. Launched in December 2014, this start-up was recently nominated for the World Summit Award. They also organized a musical show with Marians, a well-known Sri Lankan band.

The initiative was launched nationally but now the founders are planning to penetrate into different regions of the country in an effort to provide an equal opportunity and exposure to all the service providers.

“We are going through different databases to find more and more people who are in the need for an online platform. We have also searched for similar websites in other countries but we have not found any such portal. We plan to explore different possibilities," Arunatileka said.

The revenue model of this web portal is based on advertisements from service providers who want to advertise in addition to having their profiles on the website. They also provide a service where struggling musicians or SMEs can get their own websites designed. Nothing is charged from the service providers for a basic profile where they can feature their products or talents.

In less than a year, this portal already has over 1,000 service providers registered on it. It has become a popular destination for music lovers as well. With a Facebook fan following of over 45,000, Sangeethaya.lk was declared as the best web site in the category of e-entertainment in Sri Lanka. It also won a Manthan award in the e-entertainment category in 2015.

With the basic motive of integrating the entire music industry, this start-up plans on going global soon.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan and mBillionth awards.

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