Guvera users have slammed a recent software upgrade with many claiming they now have to pay for what was previously free and could no longer access personal playlists. Several said they were now switching to other free streaming services such as Pandora or Spotify.
A June 8 update has 384 ratings on Apple's App store with an average of one and a half stars. The "all versions" rating has an average of three stars. On the Android store it has an average of four stars, but all the recent reviews were just one star. Guvera has started charging users between $6 to $15 per month, contradicting its business model of having advertisers sponsor free content.
"Unfortunately, the time has come for us to refine our product offering in Australia in order to ensure long-term sustainability. Our full functionality free tier of product Play+ will no longer be available after June 30, 2016," its website states. Listeners can choose what channel they listen to on the free service, but cannot chose every song. Another version was released on Tuesday, but did not restore the completely free service.
Guvera has become cash strapped in recent weeks after a failed bid to list on the Australian Securities Exchange. Soon after it placed two subsidiaries into administration owing $15 million to creditors. It has also asked investors for a further $20 million in funding, taking total private investment to $205 million. It has been trying to reduce its monthly cash burn from $6 million to $1.6 million.
However, its future relies on having enough subscribers to attract advertisers. It wants to increase the number of branded channels on Guvera from 20 to 200 within a year. Guvera also operates in India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Apart from being asked to pay for Guvera for the first time, Australians were complaining they could no longer listen to songs without having a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection, something young people relied on to avoid high data costs.
User Andreas Martis told Fairfax Media he could no longer access his own playlist following the upgrade.
"If you don't pay, you can't play any music whatsoever. You are allowed three songs per playlist and the rest of your songs can't be accessed unless you upgrade and pay money."
Once a user reaches the third song they were then re-directed to an album or station of Guvera's choosing, he said.
"Seems to me that they are money hungry. I have uninstalled the app and I've moved to SoundCloud. Serves the same purpose and is probably better than guvera," Mr Martis added.
Matthew Moodley wrote in a review on the Android store: "At least make it available offline and let us choose songs for our playlists. If you don't we might as well just use Spotify. You have lost so many users due to the loss of Play+. Bring it back. You guys wonder why everyone is uninstalling now."
On the App store a user called Fries2001 wrote: "This app was one of the best music apps, I loved it, it was really really good. It had heaps of songs, it had charts, new releases, you could listen to songs without wifi ... And now after this new 'update', it's taken a turn for the worst ... So I'm now deleting Guvera and downloading a different app, and I've had Guvera for over a year but this new "update" has ruined it. You need to fix it."
"Time to delete the app! Its useless now unless you pay, don't bother downloading," user David Cross wrote.
Last week founder Claes Loberg released a video emphasising the difference between Guvera and other music streaming services like Spotify was its freemium model.
"We are a model that allows advertisers to actually exist in a world where people click past everything. We are a model trying to monetise the 95 per cent of people in the world that get free content. They want free content, they don't want to pay for a subscription service. What we are is so different to the other players that exist."