can use the platform for creative work or initiative conversations on any issue; brands can use them to promote products while these can be helpful in creating the right messages in emergencies like Covid. Bakstage, available on both Android and iOS, is part of New York based Flyx Entertainment. It is banking on the surge in popularity of content delivered in audio format to create a compelling business. In an e-mail interview Singh discusses audio apps, how relevant they are in the Indian context and more. Edited excerpts:
What was the idea behind launching this app and how is it different from other audio apps?
Bakstage is an audio platform for creators available on both Android and iOS, that offers a fun, casual space for users to express their opinions on subjects of their interest or talk about the causes that they support, in addition to providing content creators with the opportunity to showcase their talent with a diverse audience. It supports live and recorded conversations with real people that include personalities from varied backgrounds such as cricketers, film and TV actors, doctors, specialists and entrepreneurs. We focus primarily on the Indian market.
Currently, as people are coping with a relentless second wave of the pandemic, we have started hosting Covid support circles to amplify the voices of individuals who are fighting from the frontlines and those who are battling their own inner anxieties and fears.
What’s the revenue model?
Bakstage is a creator focused platform that lays emphasis on empowering budding creators. We are working on various revenue models that principally focus on creators being able to monetize through a direct-to-consumer model. We will soon have tipping, subscriptions and pay per action enabled to support these content creators. We are also looking at facilitating virtual shows for these creators and are exploring the idea of sponsorships. A large proportion of the revenue generated will go to the creators, with us charging a technology fee.
What are the unique features of the app? And who is a typical user?
Anyone can start the live audio room. Users can also record audio rooms and post as a podcast. Bakstage provides an opportunity to content creators including singers, local bands, stand-up comedians, movie reviewers, audio jockeys, news readers, motivational speakers to share their talent with a large audience. It can also help communities dedicated towards a cause in expanding their reach. For example, we recently hosted television star Gurmeet Chaudhury who spoke about how he and his team are helping Covid patients with essential medical equipment and medicines across the country.
Brands can utilize the audio medium for product announcements. Bakstage can also serve as a platform for business owners to meet potential partners and investors. Additionally, Bakstage can be leveraged to educate and inform people about products that they may not have prior knowledge of. Recently, we hosted a session led by a business catering to men’s sexual health.
Interest in chat rooms and audio apps like ClubHouse seems to have diminished a bit. What could be the reasons?
While audio platforms such as Clubhouse have validated and stylized the very act of listening while also heightening their users’ sense of exclusivity, the relevance, usefulness and entertainment value of the subject matter of every audio conversation must also be considered. The audience expects unique, diverse and engaging content from audio platforms, and once it isn’t entertaining or informative enough for them to keep coming back, they lose interest. Therefore, to sustain the success of audio apps, the quality of conversations that distinguish the platform must be accorded prime importance.
What according to you is the future of audio apps in India?
In the past year, audio platforms have gained popularity across the world and in India. People can consume content on the go, and visual fatigue is also reduced. India is already a lucrative market for music streaming services and podcasts, and audio conversation platforms can augment the features that make them popular.
For example, while podcasts are a good source of entertainment for listeners, audio chat platforms offer entertainment in addition to enabling listeners to take on a more active role. Besides India is a data conscious market, and conveniently, audio streaming requires much less data than video and plays out well in a low bandwidth internet connection too, unlike video streaming, which needs more data.
How are you doing fact checking and ensuring data privacy, safety for your users?
We only use permissions given by users for ‘localised’ features such as the ability to show users conversations happening near them. A user’s contact book is not stored on the company’s servers, and is only used to find friends on the service, and is completely optional.
Bakstage verifies important accounts, subject matter experts, people with a sizable audience, and others, which they initiate by emailing the company. Bakstage also requires phone number verification, and has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and bans users if they investigate an issue and find evidence of abuse.