Online music service in India
Flyte, Hungama & iTunes – Where to buy online music from ?

 

[dropcap1 color=”blue”]H[/dropcap1]ungama was already there, Flyte was a surprise offering from Flipkart and then iTunes makes an Indian venture – all signalling towards the popularity and fierceness of online music store in the days to come fueled by broadband internet becoming an easy access. Cracking more on pirates, this is perhaps the most anticipated move among Indian music lovers who wouldn’t mind loosening their purse string. Each rivaled by its own pros and cons, it would be interesting to see how they exploit the open market here over the time. I’d deliberately keep Nokia Ovi Musicstore out of the review for its strategically restricted outreach.


HUNGAMA – WORTH THE PENNY

One of the early few who realized the potential of Digital Music Store and has been expanding themselves ever since. And with the recent investment by Intel Capital, expansion plans and new offerings from its kitty is on the cards.

The Library

Comparatively speaking, I’d call it decent if not exhaustive. Few of my keywords met little or no result (my interest spans from bollywood to classicals to western). But what’s that comes from the stable of T-Series, Universal, EMI, Yashraj Films etc will show it all. Signing up with more music houses will really escalate the scores keeping the users like us in mind who appreciate wider genre and collection.

Payment & Pricing

hungama pricing
Subscription and Packs offered by Hungama.com

I think this to be the USP with them – flexibility ! With four different subscription plans, this definitely gives a run for the money to competitions. One can bag DRM free song for as low as Re 1 (Rs 99 for 99 tracks in a month). Then they have flat rate of Rs. 10 per song. Rs. 20 can be coughed out for 4 songs with different combination (videos, ringtones & mobile wallpapers – holds true for other plans as well). The unlimited download comes again for Rs. 99 only but with DRM protection. This really gives bang for for the bucks and I’d like to see others following the trend for price conscious Indian customers.

Format & Quality

MP3 being the standard mode of distribution, Hungama chose to stick with it only. The track comes with a bitrate of 128 kbps (CBR) which may disappoint some. For DRM protected files, WMA has been adapted which restricts its playability to chosen device only.

Interface & Platform

The browser based default interface leaves nothing to write home about. I find myself in a clutter to navigate and search even with the newly revamped website. Though a desktop version of Hungama MyPlay is on the cards which may share different user experience (Android, iOS and Windows 8 users may give it a try). A browser integrated toolbar (for Internet Explorer & Firefox only) is also available for quick search and listening.

Features: Payment & Pricing, various multimedia contents (Videos, Ringtones, Movies & Mobile Wallpapers), Cloud storage and streaming services.

Fails : Interface, track quality (128 kbps is a passe for many)


FLYTE – THE DESI DELIGHT

A welcome and most awaited move from a company who is receiving much of the digital love of late. With the acquisition of MIME360 (a digital media distribution company with biggies like SaReGaMa, Universal, Indiatimes etc. as its clients), they have probably hit upon digital el-dorado. Also, with a good download response in the initial weeks, it has become a popular choice with online music lovers. Leading all the way to musical nirvana, Flyte may be the next best thing to Indian e-commerce after Flipkart itself.

The Library

They have been constantly enriching upon their catalogue with various genres, languages and labels. With Times Music, SaReGaMa, EMI Music, Universal Music Ltd., Magnasound, Sony Music, BMG, T-Series, Tips Industries etc, the probability of finding a song of your choices are higher. Rich inventory and galactic collection is USP better realized by Flipkart’s Flyte.

Payment & Pricing

It has ranges but can’t qualify to be flexible. Unlike Hungama, it doesn’t have any subscription based service. Pay per song or album is the basis of all buyouts or transactions. Song’s price ranges from Rs. 6, 9 and 15 based upon the popularity and exclusivity (Rs 25 or more in case of full-cd song length). The album also comes at the discounted rates that corresponds to the number of songs included. Flipkart also keeps the customers lured with weekly offers like all songs at flat rate of Rs. 5 from particular label. I’d indeed call it a cheap deal taking everything in account. The prepaid wallet service is a worthy mention for quick purchase of any song you like.

Format & Quality

Flyte has an edge over this when it comes to choices they offer. As per the availability made by concerned music companies, majority of songs can be downloaded in mp3 format at the varried bitrates of 64 kbps, 128 kbps & 320 kbps (CBR). Users can make a choice as per the connection they have or quality they appreciate.

Interface & Platform

Flipkart's Flyte Music Download Service
The Flyte Download Manager

Flyte to date still remains a browser based service to preview and download the songs. The whole interface inherits the cleanliness of mother website with good searchability, categorization and information. A cross platform Flyte download manager is also available to make the service more efficient (with an obvious room of improvement). Like iTunes, I’d be merrier to have been offered a standalone application from Flipkart which includes search, preview and download features. Since Flipkart has chosen a yet another brandname (Flyte – The Digital Store) for digital media distribution, I also foresee a dedicated website or application dedicated for the same.

Features: Decent pricing, good interface and management, multi-bitrate mp3 options, wallet service for quick purchase, ever increasing song catalogue

Fails: Flyte Download Manager is very basic, sounds like an opportunist for new or popular track being sold at higher price


iTunes – A GLOBAL STALWART

With its phenomenal successes worldwide which once revived the company’s cash registers along with iPod, Apple perhaps realized it little late. But since it was a long overdue and most humbly awaited, iTunes foray into Indian market is a welcome move for many.

The Library

iTunes search result
The length of scroll-bar says it all !

Had it been iTunes sharing all that they offered at US/UK region, it would have been a clear winner in AV section. A quick check of albums and artists sold in India compared to US/UK strolled my excitement a bit. As an example, while test searching for artists like Rakesh Chaurasia, Ajay Pohankar & Pravin Godkhindi returned the results with significant differences (change the country settings to see it by yourself). Things may be rosier for those who are into mainstream or contemporary bollywood music which has a good availibility index at any music store. But niche segment or genre still lags behind. Maybe this is an international licencing issue which is prohibiting the sales here or they are still rolling out the drums – too early to say.

Payment & Pricing

Yet another setback for majority of Indian customers who still bank upon debit cards for all their e-commerce activity. Making it mandatory to have a Credit Card for purchase will only keep the potential buyers at bay. Apple must also realize that a large number of music savvy person who goes to online music stores belongs to young crowd with little or no access to credit card facility. If iTunes seems to be really serious in Indian venture, then they must think alike – India altogether is a different ballgame with phenomenal potential under the belly. As for the price, standard rates are Rs. 12 a song with Rs. 9 or 15 for some.

Format & Quality

Proprietary in nature but acceptable by many of the new players, .aac (with m4a extension) boasts of greater quality over .mp3. With an initial comparison of 96 kbps aac file sounds as good as 128 kbps mp3, iTunes offers 256 kbps aac which according to them is comparable to 320 kbps mp3, thus saving more on space. The universal playability scores a little as compared to de-facto mp3, but I’m with Apple’s claim when it comes to quality. Dropping DRM off their store has also witnessed a warm reception among the community.

Interface & Platform

It does it all with the famed iTunes platform which I leave it on readers to discuss (default for Mac). iGadgets fan will be more happy as it seamlessly synchronizes with all they have. Since it also doubles up as a music player, library manager,eBook store etc, this remains a greatest strength with them.

Features: iTunes as the standalone application, best for those with iPod or iPad or iMac or iPhone, mammoth catalogue (maynot hold true for Indian subcontinent), overall finnesse

Fails: Some songs can be bought with whole album only, Credit Card as the only mode of payment


THE VERDICT

Taking it in consideration that price, quality and overall experience is a subjective term in this domain, I wouldn’t announce any clear winner. Instead, I’d just highlight different parameters which can be the deciding factor for shopping with music. Hungama may keep the pool of listeners entertained with its good pricing feature but disappoints at collection front. Flyte may boast of good inventory at its disposal followed by great pricing but may flourish more with its own brand image and standalone approach. iTunes sure will encash upon its global experience but also need to understand Indian market & temperament.
[styled_table]

Feature/Service Hungama Flyte iTunes
The comparison is mostly music centric
Music/Video/Movies Yes/Yes/Yes Yes/No/No Yes/No/Yes
Library 2.5/5 4/5 3.5/5
Bitrate 128 kbps 64,128 & 320 kbps 256 kbps
Format mp3 mp3 aac
DRM Optional No No
Price Good Good Good
UI 2.5/5 4/5 4/5
Preview Y Y Y
Tags & Album Art Y Y Y
re-Download Limit Y N N
Cloud Service Y N Y

[/styled_table]

Let me know where will you lay your love to – Hungama or Flyte or iTunes ! Option to download Legal Music in India is gradually gaining a traction, isn’t it ?


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4 COMMENTS

    • Co-coincidentally, Flyte lifts up the download limit of 4 times per song by the time this article was on the verge of completion ! I’ll be a happiest guy on planet if they start selling lossless music too (Flac Format). And since it is from Flipkart, I wont be surprised to see it anytime soon 🙂

  1. A very good comparison. I am working on the subscription based service to let consumers download music/music videos and enjoy it offline with valid subscription. The article definitely highlights the key features ( quality, user interface ) that I should focus on. Thank you Aamit.

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