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Spotify turns 2 in India: A report card of the popular streaming service and its next big bet

Amarjit Batra, Managing Director of Spotify India, lays down the company's learnings, focus and future plans.

Interview with Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director, Spotify India.
Interview with Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director, Spotify India. (HT Tech)

Spotify entered the Indian market two years ago amid much fanfare. The streaming service garnered 2 million users in the first few months itself despite a brief rocky patch with legal issues. Now that Spotify has more or less settled in the country, it is now aiming to expand its popular podcast portfolio as well as push local languages, a mammoth yet untapped segment that has continued to attract the international internet firms.

In an interview with HT Tech, Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director of Spotify India, lays down the company's learnings, focus and future plans.

India’s user growth

“We are above the forecast that we had projected for India and India is one of the fast growing markets. So we can safely say without numbers that last year has been fantastic for us and we’ve made significant inroads into the Indian market since the time we went live two years back."

Local language push

“The first year was establishing ourselves and getting the basics right. This last year has seen us grow really deep into the local market in the top languages in which streaming is happening which is Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and so on. Overall, 3000 cities is where we’re streaming right now compared to 2,300+ cities in the first year. That means we are actually penetrating further from the Tier-II to Tier-III now and even further which is a good sign.”

ALSO READ: An overview of Spotify's journey in India so far

“We did some interesting campaigns and communication around some of the local languages which are Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi which are unique markets. There we have seen that our growth has been faster than normal. We are confident now that we have plans to go deeper into the market. We have local language translations happening into our product in the next few weeks, and 12 languages including Hindi is what Spotify will be available in.”

Most popular plans

Spotify currently offers a variety of plans in India with the most recent one being its Premium Mini plans. These bite-sized plans cost 7 per day, and 25 per week. 

“The number of plans that we have in India is probably the highest for any other Spotify market. The one which is the most popular right now is the latest one we offered which is the Premium Mini. After that, the annual offers are pretty popular, and we also have family and student plans which are doing well. Broadly, Premium is an interesting play for us because we know that India is not a market where people love to pay for and that’s why we’re going out and testing different plans.”

“From what we’ve seen in the last few months there definitely seems to be a preference for daily and weekly plans because I think there’s a very clear reason for that also. A lot of users in India are streaming only on mobile so they don’t need 50-60 million songs, and they’re not looking for unlimited downloads; they’re happy to have 25-50 songs downloaded. That’s why I think this mobile-only plan with restricted downloads seems to have kind of caught a fancy with most of the users who only want to pay for what they want to use.”

Indie music growth

“I think there was a pent up demand from creators to come and create more content which I think we have seen across the board now both in podcasts and music. In music we saw this last year when there was a stop in film music for some time, we saw the amount of independent music growing suddenly, and in languages like Punjabi it went 3X. So very clearly more and more artists are looking for exposure and not only within India but globally.” 

Spotify also launched Radar, its global emerging-artist platform in India last year with local artists Mali, When Chai Met Toast and Taba Chake. Spotify’s playlist Indie India also grew by 90% in the last one year. 

Podcasts

“We have seen that podcasts have been one of our strong growth drivers globally, and in India also it’s shaping up very well so we want to scale up our overall podcast business with more original content or via our partners or creators through Anchors. We also believe that someone has to do the job of creating awareness about podcasts so we’re looking to grow the market there.”

Spotify has been making news for its series of major podcast deals with the Obamas, DC Studios, and more. Spotify in its Q4 earnings report highlighted that hours spent on podcasts have doubled YoY, and 25% of its MAUs now engage with podcasts. Spotify also announced at its recent Stream On event a new podcast, "Renegades: Born in the U.S.A.," by Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama. In India too, Spotify has three original podcasts lined up. 

“India is a strategic market for us so we want to invest behind not only a short-term growth but also in a long term perspective, and we’re realising that the best way to do this is to help more creators succeed through our programs like masterclasses, Anchor and Soundup. That will be a pretty big focus. We also want to create more playlists even for podcasts where we’ve already started doing podcast playlists, podcast collections. We believe that by enhancing the discovery and helping people recommend good podcasts could be another way to cater to the growing taste.”

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