When I first heard about the concept of guvera.com I couldn’t really get my head around it.
Over 6 months later, and after using it, I am still a touch confused.
But first some history.
I first heard about guvera.com mid last year. A friend of mine had joined the company.
He organised a lunch with me and one of the senior bods from Guvera – the lunch wasn’t really a success. I couldn’t fathom the idea or appeal of a site that gave away music for free and expected brands would cover the bill. For me, there was a disconnect between giving away music and generating a sound commercial outcome for your marketing investment. The guy I met with didn’t really seem to appreciate the cynicism so ultimately it became a bit of a stand off.
Later on, I did a bit of digging around Guvera as a result and a few things didn’t sit well with me
1/ The company outlined in its prospectus it was seeking around $9m in funding at a valuation of approximately $100m. Personally I couldn’t understand this valuation given the site wasn’t live, had limited deals with labels and was more a concept that something tangible. To me it felt like the late 90’s dot com era. Anyway I guess it didn’t matter as no one was forcing me to invest.
2/ The premise Guvera ran with was that traditional interruption advertising was dead and that they had nailed a better way. For one, I don’t believe interruption advertising is dead, and I struggled to believe that giving stuff away to people which was paid for by advertisers was a solution even if it was. I find this whole rambling on that ‘everything has changed’ and ‘advertising is different now’ tired and naive.
3/ Are consumer rational and considerate enough to make a tangible connection between getting a piece of music for free and linking it to an advertiser that has paid for this? Personally I’m not so sure but maybe I’m a pessimist.
Anyway – something in me wants Guvera to work. Despite the above, the idea is interesting and backing your idea and going for it is an admirable trait.
Late last week I got a login to the site – and I took it for a test drive. Below are my observations.
1. The first thing I noticed was the Guvera sales team has done a good job. A great job even. They have a decent bunch of initial advertisers and they have delivered outstandingly with FMCG and retail advertisers. The advertiser pages look good – but remind me of a mix of a Yahoo! Music takeover, Myspace custom profile, Fix reskin etc … ie, interruption advertising that will look to a user like a banner. Is this a unique experience for an advertiser? No. Could it be? Probably if done right but it’s a long way from that.
2. The range of artists currently is not sufficient. I searched for Pink. Nothing. Passion Pit. Nothing. There’s a lot of acts not uploaded – I would assume this is due to the labour involved in adding tracks. My only feedback would be that you need to launch with everything – as there’s plenty of other options to get everything music wise. The alternative – bit torrent – has more artists.
3. The search quality is rubbish. If you search for Pink … you get artists with the word Pink in them … and tracks with the word Pink in them. This is just not good enough and must get better – really really quickly.
4. Once you find an artist, downloading a track could be easier. I was getting 20 options of who could fund my download – which was overwheling. Why do I need 20? Why not give them one? Users don’t care – they just want the track.
5. Conflict feels inevitable. How do you manage the delicate situation of McDonalds funding a Moby (a vegan) download. There are thousands if not more of these potential conflicts and I think they will become an issue due to how prominent the advertising is and how Guvera are trying to link advertiser and artist. I don’t envy Guvera’s task here – it’s a tricky one.
6. BT is still king. If you want to compete against Bit Torrent you need more than an honourable purpose (ie to provide a safer, fairer option that torrent sites) – you also need to be better than Torrents and have more range. You also need to be cooler. I’m not sure right now guvera is either. It’s advertisers aren’t really ‘cool’ brands, it’s UI needs a bit of a polish and the range right now cannot compete with BT. Ultimately guvera’s biggest competitor is BT and that’s a big, much loved, multi layered beast they’re up against.
7. The buzz around this product is limited to the more nerdy elements of the industry. Joe Public isn’t aware of guvera and the buzz around the social channels is barely audible (liking these music analogies?). A key for Guvera is delivering audience volume – which requires either an amazing product or strong ATL activity. Neither exist right now.
Looking at it after week 1 I think Guvera struggles to deliver on its audacious initial bluster. Why? Mainly because they’ve gone with a beta that just isn’t ready for public consumption. The positives? The above are areas they can probably resolve or at least improve. Everything takes time but in hindsight I would say the team would have pulled back a little on the revolutionary cliches pre-launch when trying to generate partners.
Ultimately – Guvera has three stakeholders they need to deliver value to above all else.
The user – who demands a great experience, for free, that is easy to use and delivers THE BEST music better than anyone else.
The artists – who want to be paid fairly and represented in a way true to their artistic values. They don’t want to be aligned to anything that is in conflict to their beliefs and they want a tool that improves their relationship with fans
The advertiser – who wants a platform that can deliver real, measurable, commercial gains that improve their business in a tangible sense.
Does Guvera think right now it’s delivering these 3? If you’ve used it – do you?