The app success story of Ankit Srivastava, a 24-year-old Android developer from Lucknow, India who has got nearly 4 million downloads for his music player app – La Musique. Learn how he came up with an app idea for a music app, learned Android development, designed a beautiful looking app and got 4 million downloads without spending a cent on marketing netting him more than $100,000 in the process.
Tell us about yourself and what are you working on?
Hello! I am Ankit Srivastava, a 24-year-old Android developer, originally based out of Lucknow, India. I am currently traveling and have been in South Korea since October 2017.
I develop apps for myself and also take up marketing, app development, design and consulting for others. 3 years ago I made a music player app – La Musique, named after a French phrase meaning ‘the music’. It currently has over 4 million downloads and made me over $100,000 in the process.
Currently, I am working on a bigger version of my music player app. I am not sure right now if I will launch it separately or in the same app.
How did you come up with your app idea?
In September 2013, I was studying computer science at Jaypee University of Information Technology and was captivated by the music player on my brother’s new Nokia Lumia (non-Android) phone.
I tried searching for a similar music player on my Android phone which was as beautiful as the music player on Lumia, but I couldn’t find any.
While scouring Google Play for music players, I ended up seeing thousands of music player apps each having more than a million downloads. This meant there was a huge demand for it and also a lot of competition.
So in the end, I decided on making an app with a simple idea, a huge demand, and not just a beautiful and easy to use app but one of the best in the market!
When I started building my app in 2013, very few apps on Google Play had a good design. Although if you look at my app now you wouldn’t think its super good looking, but 3 years ago when it came out it was ahead of its time.
The idea always has been to make general purpose apps (like music player, contacts dialer) and make the app good looking. A beautiful design ensures that the app looks different and people are attracted towards it.
Did you validate your idea? If yes, how?
The idea of music player was very simple. It didn’t require a lot of research. I just had to go to Google Play and see if people try out different music players or not. They do try them and a lot.
How did you go about developing your app?
I developed it all myself, although later I hired freelancers for maintenance.
It was my first app and I made it completely from scratch. I knew nothing about Android development. So, I did what anyone would do in such a situation. I googled it.
The search bombarded me with tons and tons of blogs and video tutorial. I just chose one tutorial because the guy in it seemed funny and got on with it. Whenever I got stuck I used to google it. If that didn’t work, I would ask my questions on Stack Overflow.
Since I was learning at the same time, it took me 7 months to develop it and that too working 16 hrs a day. Every day I used to get up, ditch college, open my laptop lying next to me on the bed, and then straight up open Eclipse( the IDE I use to code on). No brushing of teeth, no washing my face, no brunch just straight to code.
After 4-5 months of coding, I had a product with new features but the app didn’t look pretty. Then I landed at Dribbble (a community of designers where one can promote, discover and explore design) where I contacted around 200 designers.
Unfortunately, no one was ready to work even after being offered 40 percent equity!
It was at this point that I put brakes on my app development and started freelancing for two months. Meanwhile, I continued exploring various websites related to app designing and finally finished the app by June 2014. It was ready for launch on Google Play.
I would have always thought that I was a bad designer if I hadn’t tried.
You had a great strategy for marketing your app. Tell us more about it.
Well, it was totally free. It’s a very big strategy and I have written it in detail on my website here – How I got 2 Million App Downloads within One Year for my First App without Spending any Money on Marketing. I honestly think it is too big to tell you here.
Anyways, I will tell you the brief.
I thought of a lot of things which I wanted to do. If it all failed, I was prepared to manually contact a million people to download my app since that was my target (earlier). Thankfully I didn’t have to.
I focused on 3 major areas for marketing my app:
- App Store Optimization (ASO)
- Facebook Groups
It’s a whole topic in itself but the basic idea is to identify your keywords using tools like Sensor Tower and SearchMan. Then use those keywords in the app name, description, and package to get higher search rankings.
Facebook Groups are full of advertisements from startups and app developers. To stand out, I made my posts more like requests for feedback and told personal stories. Many times, I got 1000 downloads a day just from Facebook.
I collected the email list of YouTubers who could review my app by targeting keywords like ‘android apps’ and ‘android app review’. Also, I had around 10-15 videos of my app done for free on YouTube.
Then I sent messages to about 3000 YouTubers. My app’s video reached #2 on YouTube for the keyword ‘music player’.
I also posted on Quora, Reddit, and other forums. Through the above strategy, I started getting downloads and my app started going higher in the search ranks.
After 3 months of doing this, I had gained near to 100,000 downloads and a steady download growth of 9-10,000 daily downloads which ultimately got me to 2 million downloads within one year. And a total of 4 million downloads in roughly 2 years.
In the process, I also came to know of many tricks. I currently know a trick which ranks the app higher within 3 days.
How do you make money from your app? Can you share the revenue and user growth?
One of the things which I didn’t handle properly was the monetization. I earned just over $100,000 from the app from just banners.
Now I know many things which could have earned me five times more if I had used them earlier. I was not using mediation. I was using only banner ads.
If I would have used mediation and native ads in combination with full-screen ads or banner ads or even video ads and rewarded users, the earnings could have been more.
And there are many companies which pay per download without showing ads.
The earnings started from $3/day to $130/day. The growth in the income can be seen due to growth in the user-base.
The first 6 months got me roughly $8000. In the next 12 months, I made $50,000 from ads. In the year of 2016, the income was above $100,000.
What’s next for you?
Currently, I am working on my e-commerce business – Legendary Pokeballs.
I want to learn Facebook ads. Because if you know it once, you can literally multiply money in a day. I know people who are investing $1k in a day and turning it into $3k-4k every day.
With apps, if you want to make a new one, either you need to have lots of money to learn to advertise, or either you need to start from scratch. With e-commerce, it’s not the same.
I am also working on my new app which is a social media + music player+ music streaming and I hope to fix the mistakes I made in my earlier app.
What’s your advice for app disciples who are just starting out?
Don’t give up on your dreams, it’s okay to give up on a product (but not without giving your best)
Where can we go to learn more about you?
On my website www.iamankitsrivastava.com.
What tools/books/podcasts do you find indispensable for your app business?
I just saw YouTube videos for inspiration and googled articles about entrepreneurship and online marketing and read most of them.
I remember one time, there were no articles left to read. It seemed like I had read all of them.