Despite the huge revolution in the music industry over the past couple of years, here in India, we seem to have been left behind in the global race. When the world had a slew of subscriptions music services to choose from, ranging from Google Play Music to Spotify, they all just seemed pretty content in ignoring India.
After a while though, we did have some homegrown options coming up, such as – Saavn, Gaana, Hungama and Wynk. However, if you’re a person that enjoys International Music and would rather take a break from Bollywood, you’d be terribly disappointed to know that these services wouldn’t really cater to you, except for a handful of tracks.
Personally, I’ve been waiting for Spotify to enter the country from the moment I first learnt of it; and having managed to use it before, I found that it was a really good service. With curated playlists to take care of practically every niche of (popular) music taste, except for the local music of countries in which they didn’t operate, Spotify was really something to yearn for. Now however, even though Spotify has still not yet set foot in the country, our prayers might have been answered by Guvera.
An Australian subscription music service founded way back in 2008 and first launched in its home country in 2010, Guvera has been making its moves in world domination ever since. With a presence in 19 countries worldwide, Guvera operates on two parallels – a free-to-play service, Guvera Play; and a premium service, Guvera Platinum. To put things in perspective, let’s compare it to one of its most prominent global rivals.
Operating in a very similar manner to Spotify, Guvera’s free service (Guvera Play) allows for listening to songs in an ad-supported environment, and once again (just as the former does), it allows for skipping a maximum of five tracks a day while listening to playlists. This, as an avid music junkie would know, is quite restrictive and well, unnecessary given that the ads are quite difficult to ignore.
One disturbing distinction thoroughly in favour of Spotify, is the fact that while it does not allow you to search and play individual tracks in the free service (On-Demand), it does allow you to do so for artists and albums, while playing the narrowed down tracks in the form of a shuffled playlist. When it comes to Guvera, it is as though the search bar is only available to paying customers, as any item searched, is not available for listening on the free service. We get that Free users don’t have On-Demand access, but this is a bit drastic, limiting usage of the free service to solely the playlists that Guvera have curated themselves; thus living your life on ‘shuffle’.
If you make the decision to upgrade to Guvera Platinum for a reasonable Rs. 199 (INR) per month, you undoubtedly get the works. Unlimited songs, all on-demand, in a format that allows for quick streaming and of course, without those rather imposing ads.
For those fond of Bollywood songs, you’d be thrilled to see the latest releases, all available at your fingertips and organised pleasingly well, according to their respective movie albums and in a manner that it would be present in your very own music collection, even for free users. Guvera is clearly targeting this user base and rightly so, given the demand.
One nifty feature that Guvera has to offer that others don’t, is its #Play, which allows for users to easily create their own favoured playlist by simply dragging and dropping different genres into a pool, which then generates a shuffle of such songs for you to listen to. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a nice touch.
For users intending to go premium, you’d notice that Guvera is a tad bit more expensive than its local competition in Saavn, etc. However, given the service you’d receive as a Guvera Platinum subscriber, along with the huge access to international music, which local providers terribly lack, Guvera is well worth the higher price tag.
Due to its few shortcomings as a free service and the seeming superiority of Spotify’s content, curation and presentation, even in Premium, I’m still wishing Spotify was here. But even without it, Guvera provides for quite a decent alternative. When it comes to local content here in India, Guvera is superior to other competitions in terms of interface and usability, though it will have to beef up its content (which it definitely seems to be on the right track of doing that). Listening to music has just gotten a whole lot more enjoyable in India!