Hard times in India for streaming music service Dhingana, which shut down abruptly at the end of last week. “Goodbye! We hope that you enjoyed listening to Dhingana as much as we enjoyed building it. But alas, all good things must come to an end,” explains the short message that has replaced the company’s website.
“We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for letting us be a part of your musical moments!” Its mobile apps have also been removed from the app stores, although for now, the company’s executives haven’t given any public statements about the reasons for Dhingana’s demise.
Is the closure a shock? Perhaps not: in late December, its biggest music supplier T-Series announced that it wouldn’t be renewing its licensing deal with Dhingana, saying that “we were not able to see much traction in the service and secondly we couldn’t agree on the commercials”.
This, for a service that had 9m monthly active users as recently as October 2013, although as we noted at the time, this was significantly down on the 15m it had been claiming nearly a year before. Dhingana was VC-backed – $7m of funding in October 2012 – with innovative ideas about mobile advertising and, last year, a $1.99 premium subscription tier too.
Is its fall simply a case of a failed music business in a competitive market? India still has Saavn, Gaana and Hungama among other streaming services, after all. Yet local digital media site Medianama suggests there are wider problems: the fact that some rightsholders are striking exclusive deals, and also the fragmented nature of the overall market for licensing.
“Exclusivity increases cost of operations, and in an ecosystem that is still nascent and hasn’t yet figured out a viable monetization model, the risk of running out of money is always going to be there,” it suggests.