In the age of Spotify, Apple Music, Gaana and numerous other music streaming apps, Socialmob is different and unique. This music app was developed in our very own Kochi. Socialmob aims to give talented musicians and artists their deserved limelight. The app has integrated features for independent music, podcasts and radio. The artists and users can also maintain a social feed much like any other social media. The app has come a long way with over 10k downloads on Playstore from when it started in 2013.’
We have Aghin Johnson, CEO speaking on behalf of Socialmob team, their aspirations and future plans.
What made you choose this industry? You had mentioned that the initial plan was to start a radio station? What made you change your plan and start a mobile platform?
I have always had a connection with music. It has had a very big influence on my life.This is what drove me to choose the music industry.
Yes, at the very beginning I had thought of starting a radio station, but running a traditional station has multiple difficulties at various levels – this is the main reason we stepped back from that idea. The idea was reborn when the internet and smartphone boom happened in 2013. With technological advancements, I was able to foresee how the music industry would evolve. And We are spot on.
Where is your startup based out of? Do you think it is best to place for your venture?
We are based out of Kochi. Kochi is known to be a start-up village or start-up promoting platform but definitely there are miles to go before we would see Kochi at par with other boomed startup ecosystems like Bangalore or Gurgaon. We have fortunately got a great team and I always wanted to build something from my hometown, a global brand, the first of its kind from Kochi. We may do better had we been from Bangalore for sure, However, there are many brilliant ideas coming out of the state these days and I feel we aren’t far behind in catching up and being the best place for any venture.
Who are your competitors and how are you different from big players like Spotify, Youtube Premium or even Amazon Prime Music?
Our focus is to support independent artists. Our app is also first of its kind where we bring music artists and the listeners to socially exist on a single platform. A phenomenon we would like to call Social Music.
The app consists of three sections
- A dedicated music player which provides artists spaces to feature their music and the unique playlist which features tracks that are trending in a particular week based on listeners.
- A podcast stream – We feature close to 15-20 podcasts
- Round the clock radio for curated playsets, curated shows etc.
- A social feed with AI Engine – where the signed up artists and our users can maintain a social page and meet like-minded people from across the world based on the music preference.
With regards to features, yes any of the above-mentioned platforms are in competition as we essentially stream music. But we do not see that as a competition at a macro level.
What are your market strategies to attract and sustain the users? What section of customers are you going to target?
Content is truly the king; users are always appreciative of good content. We strive to make sure we try to bring the good and the best on to the platform. Independent music, podcasts, radio – is the main strategy that attracts the users. We carefully curate the content by going through a huge catalogue of artists and creators from around the world. We always try to improve our PGC at all stages.
In short, our target audience is millennials.
How was the response from users once you released the app? Has the app changed due as a result of feedback from users?
As with any other app, we’ve had a mixed response, but most of it has been positive, with many in support of our mission to give a platform to talented independent artists. User feedback has always been of utmost importance to us. We have relied on it to make significant changes for the better, especially when our app was still in the beta phase of development. We keep a close connection with our dedicated users to improve the user experience time and again.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you’re looking to raise?
Currently, we have a Zero-debt model. We have bootstrapped our project over the years. The founders completely own and fund the project. But we are indeed looking for partners to scale the project globally.
What are the challenges you face daily to run your venture?
Every day is a challenge in a start-up. We overcome it as a team. The team has an average tenure of 3-4 years with the company. With them, it is easy to move forward. They are the real strength.
The largest struggle I feel we have gone through or to an extent we still do have difficulty is the effort going into explaining and defining what is ‘Indie’ and attracting informed users to our app. But thanks to the changing content consumption pattern, its getting easier but yes, still a challenge.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other? Tell us about previous jobs/ventures? What were they doing before this startup?
We are a 15 member strong team. Each one of us has a different talent brought to the table. To call out a few, the co-founders – PM Johnson is the father of Aghin Johnson and that relation is self-explanatory. He is the most valuable mentor and guidance to our team. He urges us to be persistent and stay motivated. My self, Aghin Johnson had completed almost 4 years with the top logistics companies in the world. He was also working with a few independent artists, which is when the idea for a platform to bring Indie artists to the forefront took genesis. Siraj EA, the other co-founder was one of the first hire on to the project, fast forward to 6 years later, he is the tech spine of Socialmob and has been crucial to where we have reached today. The other team members are what I can say is a brilliant mixed bag. The marketing and PR in charge, Jithin Babu have worked with one of the top digital agency in Bangalore and with companies like Nestle, Brittania, Indus Pride etc. Rahul Varghese is a self-taught graphics designer who is also an MBA graduate, Nikita Harindranath is our content and social media handler who is pursuing her masters from IIM – K, the artist and recording dept is handled by Abhishek Nair who is an artist himself with quite a huge fan base. Abhi Kumar is the android whizz of the project and self-taught one too. Anju A is an oddball, an ex- Razorpay she was handling banking and client on boarding once and now heads operations and artist management in Socialmob. Anitta Paul is again a fresh hire out of college (Rajagiri Engineering), is a skilled coder and is solely responsible for the existence of Muses Studio, a project coming soon that helps the artist in music production and distribution. When we open the app, there is a cool graphic that comes into play – Akhil Sakharia is our expert in VFX and Motion graphics for all the cool animations in the app.
While we all have varied backgrounds, what makes it super easy for us to work as a team as we do now is our vision and passion for Socialmob.
Any message for our readers?
First of all, we give a heartfelt thank you to all of those who have supported us till today. We really appreciate it – it keeps pushing us to regularly improve the app.
We ask all young music enthusiasts to do check out the app. It is available on Google Play Store. We are working on the IOS version. Please listen to the independent music to support the talented independent artists, check out all of the features, and send us a Penny (our chatbot on the app) with constructive feedback. There are new updates coming soon! Spread the word, help us find the mobbers.
Let’s mob it up!
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