Value Added Services or VAS is a huge component to mobile telephony in India. Whether consumers choose their carriers based on these services is a different thing, VAS is important to carriers for building a brand. In a conversation about brands with Ryan Hayward, Vikrant Khanna, Vice President of Consumer Engagement and Digital at Airtel talked about various topics. In the conversation he dropped a hint about a partnership Airtel is trying to strike with Google India.
While music is a huge part of India's society, online streaming of music isn't exactly a big thing India primarily due to the Internet infrastructure and secondly due to inability of songs and streaming services. All this seems to be slowly changing with services like Saavn and Flipkart entering music retail. Airtel has decided to not get embroiled in legalities and services, instead talk to the people who host pretty much every type of music—YouTube. According to plans explained by Vikrant Khanna, Airtel hopes to turn YouTube into a Bilboard music chart. Here's what Khanna said:
Can you describe what one of these ‘activations’ looks like? How does a mobile communications provider convince youth that they enable their passions?
One example is using the mobile phone to bring music to the masses. For example, we are in discussions with Google to create on YouTube the first ‘billboard’ for the top music in the country. I believe that music constitutes around 50 percent of search queries on YouTube, so there’s a huge demand, but there’s not anywhere you can go on the web to see what the top music is right now in India. There's no billboard that's truly democratic and transparent. So we want to create that on a platform like YouTube where the music rating will be based on user views and popularity. After consuming the content, if the user wants, we would give them the functionality to download the song as a ringtone on their mobile phones.
Essentially, the top songs listened to by users on YouTube will become a playlist for Airtel users to subscribe and stream.