Breaking down Spotify’s stay in India so far, and what’s next for the platform
Global music streaming giant Spotify officially entered India in March this year. The company came well prepared for the Indian market as it launched aggressively priced subscription plans and localised content.
It soon followed up with Spotify Lite, a 10MB lightweight application optimised for millions of low-end phones with lesser storage and poor connectivity. In a bid to tap different hardware platforms, Spotify introduced Google Assistant support in India for both free and premium users. The feature is available on Google Home smart speakers as well.
Although late, the entry of Spotify has surely woken up the music streaming market in India, which has over 450 million smartphone users. The company also faces strong competition from local players like JioSaavn and Gaana and international players like Amazon Prime, Apple Music, and YouTube Music. Market consulting firm Deloitte expects the online music market in India to surpass $273 million by 2020. A survey by CyberMedia Research (CMR) also revealed that 55% of people in India are spending 30% of their time listening to music.
Globally, Spotify has 108 million paid subscribers with India contributing a minuscule percentage of the overall user base. The music streaming service is now five months old in India and here's a closer look at its journey so far.
Spotify launched in India on February 28. Within the first week of its launch, Spotify said it secured 1 million users on the platform. Spotify quickly reached 2 million users on the same month itself. Spotify's userbase is currently on a standstill with over 2 million users till July.
Spotify offers free and premium subscriptions in India. Its subscription plans start as low as ₹13 for a day's usage. Spotify charges ₹129 per month and ₹1,189 annually. It also offers 50% discount for students in India.
Spotify may be the leading music streaming service globally, but the company faces stiff competition from local and global players in India. Gaana recently touched the 100 million user base, while JioSaavn is said to have over 100 million subscribers. In terms of global competition, YouTube Music hit 3 million downloads within its first week here in India. YouTube Music also aims to have 500 million users by 2020.
One of Spotify's biggest challenges in India is price. The streaming platform doesn't have tie-ups with telcos or smartphone brands in India. Apps like JioSaavn and Wynk Music are free for Jio and Airtel users respectively. Samsung Galaxy S10 and Google Pixel users also get six months of YouTube Music subscription for free. Spotify's tie-up with Galaxy S10 is applicable only in the US.
Spotify's launch campaign 'There's a playlist for that' leveraged on the music streaming service's USP - curated playlists. New users were welcomed by playlists like 'Sound of Mumbai', 'Sound of Delhi', and 'Sound of Bengaluru'. As a user continues to use Spotify, the app starts recommending playlists based on the user's listening habit. Spotify hosts over 3 billion playlists in India.
The top followed playlists in India are 'Top Hits Hindi', 'Punjabi 101' and 'Bollywood Butter'.
"Our campaign began on March 23rd, and through the months that followed, it has been encouraging to see the steady in-app traction contributed by a growing community of artists and users actively engaging with music through creatively curated playlists on Spotify," Spotify said.
Spotify has been pushing for podcast growth on its platform. It recently made some major acquisitions in the podcast space. Spotify also revamped its app UI making podcasts more visible. It even signed exclusive rights to the Obamas' podcast company, Higher Ground. Spotify expects that more than 20% of its listening will be non-music content.
In India the top podcast categories are education, motivation, music, and news. On the podcast growth in India the company said, "The potential growth for new forms of audio storytelling is garnering steady popularity amongst the national urban audio streamers in India; but it's safe to say that India is very, very young in the journey compared to markets like Sweden and the US."
"Going forward, our focus is to progressively build our platform through our 'audio first' mission based on purposeful innovation inspired by our users. For in-app experiences, we remain committed to making the user experience even more intuitive through relevant content across music, podcasts, and features attuned to local preferences," Amarjit Singh Batra, MD, Spotify India said.
"We will also be looking at introducing unique fan engagement platforms in India once we have deeper insights on music consumption here. Finally, we believe there is an immense opportunity for growth in transitioning users from the mindset of piracy towards streaming music," he added.