In the recent years the music industry got deeply intertwined with Internet and mobile apps. Navaak is an Iranian music streaming application like Spotify that is targeting the market inside Iran.
Hear the Rich Music of Iran
Navaak (Literally meaning the pitch of sound) is a commercial music streaming app just like Spotify. The difference is unlike Spotify -where its international music section is not that rich- you can access a huge archive of Iranian music.
Navaak runs under a freemium business model. Meaning listeners can enjoy listening to their favorite artist without paying a dime. But at the same time if users want to listen to that tunes in a higher quality and without advertisement interruptions or even download the songs, they have to pay a monthly fee (6,900 Tomans, currently about 2$). Navaak currently has 45000 users and around 2 percent of them are users who are paying a monthly subscription fee.
Before using Navaak we searched the names of a couple of Iranian artists on Spotify and Apple music. The results weren’t shocking. Since Iranians inside the country don’t have access to international payment systems such as Visa or Master Cards, you don’t expect to see that many results when searching for Iranian singers and musicians on those platforms.
What Does Navaak Do?
Navaak lets listeners to play music online or offline. They can get access to a big variety of Iranian music, get in touch with artists and share their favorite songs with their friends. Users can listen to a selection of handcrafted playlists or they can make their own playlist out of their favorite songs. Users can also get the latests updates from the artists that they are following on the platform.
Thanks to the app, artists can get in touch with their fans and get to know how listeners interact with their music, detect the pitfalls of their works and plan for their concerts and albums in a smarter way.
The project initiated with 2 graduates from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran and 2 graduates from Tabriz University. Navaak was officially launched in October 2014 in Sharif Accelerator and in only 3 months since the launch of the platform on the web, it gained 1000 users. Currently Navaak has 12 people working on the project.
Navaak is also one of the portfolio startups of Dmond accelerator in Tehran.
“Part of our success was because of the efforts of Dmond accelerator team. We felt we had a friend who was beside us through our journey,” said Alireza Jafari, Co-founder of Navaak. He added saying that the mentorship could be really useful especially for the teams who have been formed just after graduating from college. Alireza said since his team had done some projects before, the other privileges of the accelerator such as the network were more important to them.
Making a Culture
Navaak is not only making it easier for users to access Iranian music everywhere and anytime, they are also pushing the culture of copyright inside Iran. A few years ago people who couldn’t find the CD version of the music that they wanted, had no choice but to download the songs from hundreds of illegal websites.
Navaak aims to bring a platform where aside from listening to music, users can also communicate with artists and their friends about that piece of music.
“Iranians have access to the latest music released in the country but the thing is they usually buy artist’s work according to recommendations.” In addition Navaak has a blog section where they interview musicians and songwriters so that the user feels more intimate with the artist and their work.
Post-sanction Iran and Competitors
In Iran every music piece that officially comes out in the stores needs to have a permission from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. “Aside from sanctions being lifted or not, the policies of Iran’s Ministry of Culture are another story,” says Alireza Jafari. So even if the foreign competitors decide to operate in Iran they would need to get a distribution license for every song.
“Our main competitor is the music that is being downloaded illegally over the Internet.”
“If our foreign competitors decide to enter Iran’s market they would probably encounter difficulties regarding the local labels”. He also added that Navaak’s platform is designed for Farsi speaking users which makes it an advantage. Jafari told us that there’s always a chance to partner up with competitors.
Navaak was one of the few startups selected to attend iBridge conference in Berlin which became one of the winners along 5 other teams. Their team was also one of Iran’s representatives in GITEX exhibition in Dubai and Slush startup competition in Finland. Navaak’s milestone in the upcoming months is to sign contracts with all the major record labels in Iran to further expand their archive.
What do you think about the new wave of apps revolving around music? Can these startups save the music industry from piracy?