A meagre 15 percent of aspiring ingers have access to a teacher due to a limited supply of quality teachers and/or the cost of learning which is not affordable to the masses. Most of these teacher-led learners are kids agend between 6-15 years. There are multiple online platforms that provide content but the eager student is often unable to practice with it and more importantly, there is no feedback offered. It is this gap that music app Riyaz is attempting to bridge.
Riyaz is the on-demand music teacher and with its proprietory technology stack offers a music learning model through practice-able content and real-time actionable feedback during the learning process. Launched by Gopala Krishna Koduri in 2019, it aims to bring a fresh perspective to singing. It challenges the conventional way of learning to sing. Hailing from an engineering backround, Koduri has always been interested in arts and literature. After completing his graduation and masters in computer science from IIIT, Hyderabad, he went to complete his PhD in Music Technology from Universitat pompeu Fabra, Barcleona.
Excerpts from an email interview with Gopala Krishna Koduri -Founder and CEO, Riyaz with Sulekha Nair
What prompted you to launch Riyaz?
Often, the things we crave as kids come back as purpose-defining targets as adults. As a child, I resonated with music, arts and literature but had very little access to honing my skills. Ichose to learn music and the nuances that go with it. In time, I realized the gaps in the music education - accessibility and affordability.
What are the painpoints that Riyaz is addressing?
There are multiple challenges that the platform addresses: The most important part of learning to sing is to have reliable feedback on the mistakes you are making and guidance on how to improve. We can pick up plenty of concepts from videos on the internet, but they do not give you any feedback on how to improve your performance. Riyaz's technology addresses this problem. The input to every user is a core component of Riyazs' offering. The proprietary technology stack offers a unique music learning model through both practice-able content & real-time actionable feedback during the learning process.
Riyaz analyses the core singing attributes and provides a holistic learning path to improve overall singing skills. At its core, it helps users improve singing skills at an individual song level. All of this is delivered in a fun and entertaining manner.
How does it work?
The learner gets to sing along or after the original source. The technology instantly grades the student against the reference (colored bars), even as it visually shows how the student is singing. It has a smart auto-looping mimic like what happens with a real teacher.
Please tell us about your revenue model
We have an affordable subscription model beginning from Rs 99 per month. Our 20 lakh + users worldwide are a testament to a 3X revenue growth this year. The app is feature-rich, with verse, language, and genre selection available to all subscribers.
What is the technology integration and Riyaz' s USP
Riyaz's content transformer engine can transform any piece of content, anywhere from any genre worldwide, to be practice-able and learnable. This unlocks the immense learning potential of the ocean of existing content.
Our singing evaluation engine holds a mirror for the users' voices as they sing. It compares them to the reference and helps them self-correct their mistakes instantly. In other words, it acts like an on-demand teacher guiding on a real-time basis. This approach prevents millions of singing enthusiasts from stopping their pursuit of singing excellence.
To ensure implicit learning, we are now expanding the process of feedback and integrating gamification to ensure engagement and guaranteed improvement.
What is the process that patrons need to follow?
Anybody can sing and get better at it on Riyaz. A typical Riyaz user aka hobby singer will be able to discover and sing short bites of trending songs as well as their personal favourites. Riyaz identifies the area of improvement required while they sing and builds a dynamic learning path to improve the core aspects of their singing and listening ability. These learning paths are based on the proven pedagogy followed by music teachers for centuries in India, and Riyaz has gamified and made them fun to practice everyday. These repeated deliberate practices ensure consistent progress and improvement in the users’ ability to sing.
What are your future plans for Riyaz?
We want to ensure the learning process is fun and not looked at as a chore - this is an exciting expansion that the brand is making through gamification. For a hobby singer, the explicit learning model becomes taxing. The new technology converts the pedagogy in different sets of games and activities making it fun for the user to continuously engage and learn. Think about how we teach kids to identify colors or shapes through games - they continue to play it since it's engaging and delivers guaranteed results through implicit learning. In the same way, the feedback process and subsequent learning are gamified for a fun, dynamic and memorable experience. Riyaz will continue to let users (classical singers) focus and improve on specific parts of songs they want to master.
The company has been funded over two rounds by early-stage investors Better Capital and Multiply Ventures. The funds have been deployed to help acquire talent and refine the technology stack. Currently, Riyaz is in process of raising Series A as well.
What is the market potential?
The market is overflowing with technology, potential, and multiple opportunities in the music industry. Children and adults continue to pursue to learn different instruments. Most instrument hobbyists want to accompany themselves with their voices on their instruments. Considering this segment alone tells us about 68 million hobby singers in the USA. Extending a similar methodology to other developed nations (EU, CA, AU, and NZ) reveals at least 238 million potential learners in the developed countries. We estimate around 45 million self-learners in India, and this number is currently limited by internet penetration and is expected to snowball.