The music streaming industry in India has grown to a new level in recent years. The industry’s expansion has brought in contemporary local artists and podcast creators. Players, including Amazon Music and Spotify, entered the industry a few years ago. Local competitors such as Gaana and JioSaavn have also introduced new features on their platforms in the recent past to stay relevant against their global counterparts. But industry still has a long way to go, as the special guests for this week’s episode of the Gadgets 360 podcast Orbital – Gaana CEO Sandeep Lodha and week’s Head of Market Operations in India Akshat Harbola – tell Orbital- host Akhil Arora.
Spotify entered the Indian market in February 2019 and is celebrating its three-year journey there. The platform claims it has brought over 6,000 local artists on board in the past three years through its education creators program, Masterclasses.
Since its launch, Spotify says the number of Indian artists on its platform has grown 13 times. The streaming giant headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, also has programs such as EQUAL, RADAR, and Fresh Minds to bring new artists from the country to the global audience.
Spotify also claims that the number of cities and towns in the country where it streams music will have grown to more than 7,500 by 2021. Harbola tells us that English, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, and Tamil are among the popular languages in which the music has been streamed through the platform.
Like Spotify, Lodha says Gaana has seen growth in listener count and content. The Indian platform will celebrate its 12th year later in 2022.
Lodha states that both music and podcasts are at the heart of Gaana. He mentions that the platform has recently started offering suggestions to users based on their listening patterns to make the experience more personal and engaging. This is a feature that its competitors have had for a long time. The personalization touch has helped increase user retention on the platform, Lodha says, without citing specific numbers.
Growth aside, both Spotify and Gaana believe that India is a completely different audio streaming market than the US and Western markets. Harbola said: “India still has the highest rates of piracy in the world when it comes to music” So here, the market context in which we operate is very, very different.”
One of the main challenges for platforms like Spotify and Gaana is convincing “sers to pay users their subscriptions. Many of their potential users listen to music through YouTube, if not through illegal sources.
Spotify tries to persuade people to buy its paid subscription through a sachet pricing model called Premium Mini. Launched in December 2020, the Premium Mini model offers ad-free music streaming and the ability to download songs on a single mobile device for Rs. 7 daily.
Harbola tells us Spotify has brought Premium Mini to markets, including Indonesia, after experimenting with it in India. However, he believes there is still much to explore to grow paid subscriptions in the Indian market.
Like Harbola, Lodha also believes that market players, including Gaana, need to develop new ways to grow subscriptions in the country.
“I think over the next three, four years as the economy develops, and you see th”s in emerging economies, subscription rates are going up, as the economies mature as the industry matures,” he says.
That said, both Harbola and Lodha tell us that the payment level growth of mgrowthtreaming platforms in the country has been faster in recent months than in the previous two years.
The next big wave in the audio-streaming world comes from podcasts. But India is not as mature as western markets, including the US and UK. Still, there are promising signs.
“We’re already seeing quite a bit of traction, so one in four podcast listeners “We’reere .or Spotify listeners out there listen to podcasts regularly, especially Gen Z,” says Harbola. “The youngest users are adapting to the new media in a new, pret”y big way.”
Lod, “points out that the choice of podcasts among their listeners is mainly b”sed on their music listening preferences.
“We have a lot of people listening to crypto or autobiographical stuff,” he says” “And there’s a lot of people listening to, you know, Ramayana and Mah”bharata, a” Bharatare’stic or horror stories.”
Platforms like Spotify and Gaana are also looking for ways to monetize creator” cocreators both the number and quality of podcasts in the country.
“We’re moving to a more marketplace-like setting like YouTube,” Lodha says.
Spot”We’res its offering called Anchor that podcasters could use to “distribute distribute sts to various listening apps, including Spotify itself, and access tools like analytics. It also lets podcasters monetize their podcasts with multiple advertisements, podcast subscriptions, and regular donations from their listeners.
“There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation,” Harbola emphasizes. “Many makers”There’scome. There is no doubt about it. But “t the same time, bran”s want an audwantse.”
We’ll talk more about all that and more – including the 2022 roadmap for both “pWe’ll and Gaana. You can listen to this more by pressing the play button on the Spotify player above.
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