There is no shortage of apps to help tune guitars, violins or even the banjo, and to help practice western songs and music. But similar resources are lacking for Indian string instruments and classical music. Enter Mohan Verma’s Bollywood Raagas.
Verma’s music tech startup develops music learning tool apps specifically for Hindustani classical music. The company has two apps focusing on two different problems: Swar Alap for music pitch detection and Swar Taal for music instrument accompaniment for music practice or performances.
Verma, founder and CEO at the firm, previously worked in PwC as a partner in the firm’s technology practice, which he quit to pursue his passion for music.
Verma told Entrackr, “We are marrying technology with music with an emphasis on understanding music. Technology combined with music is prevalent in the west and is picking up in India as well.”
Being a musician, especially a vocalist, needs hours of practice. A teacher isn’t always available for practice sessions. This is where Swar Alap helps artists hone their craft, Verma said. The app detects and corrects the pitch and frequency of vocalists, helping them practice on their own, supplementing teacher-led training.
Swar Alap also offers pitch detection in both Hindustani as well as Western music systems.
While practice or performing, the vocalist is often accompanied by an instrument; this is provided by the Swar Taal app. It has a tuner along with all 12 swaras (notes) and has options for an intro mode, fillers, and end mode. Each of the taals in the app comes in several variations as well.
Additionally, Swar Taal provides rhythms, tabla, tanpura, Bollywood beats, swarmandal, and voice recorder for riyaz. These features help not only vocalists and musicians but also composers and dancers.
So how is this app any different from a karaoke since it provides those same features? Here is the highlight: the Swar Taal allows practitioners to customize features to their own pitch or the pitch in which a person wants to sing, giving the singer the flexibility a karaoke app will not be able to provide.
Working on a subscription model, the company has a month-on-month user acquisition growth rate of about 10–20%. The company is expected to have a run rate of about Rs 1 million this year. Bollywood Raagas is acquiring around 700-1000 customers on a daily basis and aims to onboard 1 million users by the middle of 2023.
In 2021, the Indian music industry was valued at Rs 19 billion and is expected to reach a the Rs 28 billion mark by 2024, according to researcher Tanushree Basu Roy. With such a large market as an audience, the bootstrapped company aims at improving its existing products with the aim of becoming “the one stop shop for western and Hindustani fusion beats”.