Lishn: Revolutionizing Nepali Music Industry!

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Lishn: Revolutionizing Nepali Music Industry!

 Music is a global religion and artists the devout crusaders. Since the dawn of mankind, people have been making and connecting through melodies. The only thing that has changed is the way people consume them. From listening live to records, cassettes and CDs to portable music players and to now listening on cloud, technology has changed everything. An outcome of that transition is Lishn.

Lishn is a way you can listen to the music you like from the artists you love for free on cloud and while you are at it, the artists earn pretty pennies every time you listen to their music.  Identifying itself as an ‘artist-centred’ company, Lishn strives towards putting the artist back in the centre of the melee. The journey started on September 17, 2014 for three music aficionados; Aayush Shrestha, Ashok Basnet and Bibek Subedi.

 

Birth of the melody 

The thought of this ‘artist-centric’ idea came to Aayush when a friend of his, who is a singer by profession, realized that his songs were getting famous, he however was not. This seemed to baffle Aayush and it didn’t settle well with him knowing that artists elsewhere around the world were celebrated but here in Nepal the artists are eclipsed by the attention their songs get.  This thought was on the back of his head, wanting to be solved but was not actively thought upon. On a fortunate day, while listening to a song on SoundCloud, he came to know that the artists get paid for their songs. This was a concept that did not exist in Nepal. So he pitched his idea to his friends. They liked the idea, they formed the team and thus Lishn was born. 

The name ‘Lishn’ was in itself a happy accident. While they were browsing for a domain name, they searched with keywords related to music like ‘play’, ‘songs’, and so on. They then typed ‘listen’, however that had already been snagged. But the recommendation list had a domain name ‘Lishn.com’. This name clicked and it was how they thought Nepalese pronounce listen. The name stuck since then.

 

The formation of maestros 

The teammates of Lishn were in fact classmates who studied Computer Engineering in Pulchowk Engineering Campus. "We had worked together for three years on college projects and had an undeniable chemistry between us, which ultimately resulted in formation of Lishn,” says Aayush. They were passionate about music and wanted to build a product that everyone would use. So putting two and two together, they built Lishn. “While we were working on a ‘cool’ product, we were also helping people who made music.”

 

The crescendo of Lishn 

Lishn was translated from vision to reality when they came across a Facebook post about ‘Startup Weekend’. The team pitched their idea and ended up being the 1st runner up in the competition. However, it has not been able to grow as they have not been able to commit to the business wholeheartedly. “We all have day jobs in other organizations and only have the night time to plan for Lishn. We are currently living together even though we have families in the valley,” says Aayush.

But with whatever little effort they have put in, the growth has been amazing. Not a single time was spent on marketing. Independent artists themselves come without the team having to look for artists. The artists and audiences commend the website and app. The artist who took up music as a hobby are seriously pursuing it as they now have a platform and they also get to earn money. 

 

Improvising on Challenges endured 

However, they have not been able to get reputed artists in the system. The artists belong to big music companies and do not possess the rights to their songs. “Talking to these companies is a very difficult task. Instead of helping them out, these companies try to leach the best out of us and leave us high and dry,” explains Aayush. They add they have yet to devise a plan wherein these companies would support them and benefit mutually.

They also faced the problem of idea myopia. Their parochial investment in the idea made them forget the bigger picture; they only focused on building a cool product that ended up helping nobody. “But we have tried to overcome this hurdle through mentorship from people who we respect. We are getting better every day by talking to these people. The startup community in Kathmandu is amazing and they have always been supportive.”

 

 

Facing the music

Lishn is no stranger to reality shocks. When they were trying to build a streaming app, they realized most of the people in Nepal do not have access to good internet. “80% of total Nepali internet users use the data on their phone. People would not like to stream songs with mobile data. We cannot do this for instant profit, but rather build a product for the future. We might have to struggle for four or five years. But we have to be patient” says the team.

 

Tuning the Revenue stream 

The company aims to pay the artist every time their songs are lishned (a term used in the system when a track is played). The first revenue stream the company has recognized is advertisements. The graphic adverts in the website and the Lishn app will help generate income. They are planning to introduce audio advertisements. So every time you lishn to songs, you will hear a 5-10 seconds of jingle of brands. This is an appealing offer for advertisers as recognized by the company. The other revenue stream, which is yet to be introduced, is subscription. The subscriber can pay a little amount, say Rs.100, to get rid of advertisements while listening to songs and also get to listen to music offline. 

The artists are technically not being paid at the present, but they are earning. The artists cannot retrieve any money unless their balance amounts to Rs.5000.

 

Lock-winding the Initial investments

Initially, three of them collected around Rs.40k each. They paid for furniture, rent and internet. Anytime the balance was at the brink of extinction, they would take up freelancing jobs to earn money for the business. In total (as Aayush whips out his phone to calculate), they have spent around little over Rs.4 lakh. They are not taking any salary. The only expenditure of the company has is rent, electricity and internet services apart from the times they organized events for the company using the investments: once was when they launched their website and the next was when they launched their app.

 

Future rhythm 

Lishn is currently building a product for the future, taking into consideration of what future artists and listeners would want. Some of the features in consideration are: Subscriptions, Offline services and Ad less experience.

In the far future, Lishn sees itself at a global scale. It might start with few places in India and then plan to move according to the flow and feasibility. 

However, it is not to say that Lishn is not revolutionizing the Nepali music industry with its attempt to focus on the artists and keeping them at the centre of everything musical. It is providing artists with a platform to earn money and fame while the listeners get to listen to the music for free. Every click results in a kha-ching! 

 

 

    

 

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Guest Sunday, 22 October 2017