Mani Narang, Head Wynk Music joined Airtel as a Young Leader from ISB, Hyderabad in 2007. Prior to heading Wynk, she worked for four years in Usage & Retention at the Airtel Centre, and in the Data Growth team for the Delhi circle.
We had a conversation with Mani where she talks about the journey of Wynk Music and future plans for Wynk business.
Q. Tell us about how Wynk came into existence. A. In 2014, smartphones had become the single biggest avenue of mobile data consumption. About 43% of the total mobile data consumption happened over smartphones.
Music was identified to drive overall data consumption. The music space on smartphone was infested with rampant music piracy with many sites offering free music downloads, and ‘side-loading’ at the local corner shop. None of the existing legal sources / products had been able to drive adoption at scale. Despite the high demand, the content industry was highly fragmented with multiple players and high content costs.
We realised that Airtel is uniquely positioned to address the demand-supply gap, given our strong consumer legacy with music (as pioneers of Hello Tunes), our deep content industry relationships and our ability to drive scale through intuitive pricing and distribution.
We started working on Wynk in December 2013 and the app was launched in September 2014.
Q. Tell us about the growth journey of Wynk. A.Initially, it was a one-man army. For me, that meant a lot of learning - from learning how to write legal contracts to the nitty-gritty of digital marketing and the music industry. I was envisaging the key features while they were being developed. We spent a lot of hours working and focusing on the tenets in order to provide our consumers, a compelling alternative to pirated music. From there on, the team has grown to a size of 16. Today, Wynk has its own Digital Marketing expert, Product Managers for all the three offerings (Music, Movies and Games) and somebody who takes care of U & R for Wynk. The recent addition to the team has been a Finance expert to take care of all the commercials for Wynk. We are aiming to build up a lean team which will be great at multi-tasking, has an opinion on digital space & the current ecosystem, and has a penchant for music and movies.
Q. What is the ‘Wynk Way’ of doing things? A. The culture at Wynk is not very different from Airtel. There are extremely high levels of ownership and commitment - it’s a lean team that is literally building something from scratch and taking it to the market. Innovation is encouraged and freedom is provided to experiment with new things - something which is also a part of the larger Airtel Culture. But what sets Wynk apart, is the autonomy. There’s a lot of support from the leadership and there have been no holding back due to people, processes and systems.
Q. What does the future hold for Wynk? A.For the next year, my focus is to ensure that Wynk gets the respect in the developer community and the product community as a good BSB Product because that is where the best engineering talent lies. We are currently at 300 million monthly stream song plays and with the Airtel DNA, our goals and ambitions are high; we aim to reach the 1 billion mark, by the end of next year.