Audio Game On!, says streaming platforms yet revenue remains a challenge

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Updated: May 06, 2021 2:34 PM

According to industry estimates, the paid userbase for audio OTT platforms averages at 1-1.5% of the overall userbase

Audio Streaming Platforms, Music Streaming IndustryFrom tapping into varied genres to being available in multiple languages, podcasts have come a long way in the last year.

Too much of screen time has led to people now spending time listening to audio based content. And this is why audio streaming platforms such as Spotify, JioSaavn, Gaana, Amazon Music, among others, have posted a 15% growth in overall users in February 2021, when compared to January 2020, as per Comscore —-a media measurement and analytics firm. “Globally, 46% of Spotify’s userbase is paid. In India, the majority is on the free side hence we don’t see the same type of conversation rate as we clock globally but 2020 was good for us. Since last year, our paid base has grown faster than our free base to the point that our conversion rate from free to paid userbase is higher when compared with industry average,” Akshat Harbola, head of market operations – India, Spotify, told BrandWagon Online. Similarly, JioSaavn claims to have quadrupled its paid userbase since last year. As per the latest FICCI-EY report, paid consumers on audio streaming platforms saw a 15% rise in 2020, post pandemic.

In order to acquire new users, audio streaming platforms have added new content, and podcasts is what seems to be spinning the wheels — even if it’s funded by ads. From tapping into varied genres to being available in multiple languages, podcasts have come a long way in the last year. “Over the past year, we have nearly doubled the total number of podcasts produced with JioSaavn Originals after witnessing an influx and growth of content from the open podcast ecosystem, giving listeners a wider choice of content to choose from. The JioSaavn Originals content slate saw us diversify into not only different genres of content such as Kids and Family (Raising Parents), but also included a slate that was inclusive of the needs of a growing regional market,” JioSaavn spokesperson elaborated.

With the lack of film releases last year, 2020 also emerged as the year of independent artists. Non-film music saw an opportunity and created a space for itself which would have been hard to create while competing with film music. Leveraging this, artists and labels tied up with audio OTT platforms to release their content. For instance, an influx of labels released their new artists’ songs under Gaane Originals while JioSaavn launched streaming launchpad from Artist Originals named AO Labs for unsigned artists in the early stages of their careers, enabling them to distribute their content directly. Spotify, on the other, has launched multiple playlists for independent artists – including RADAR India and Indie India– which is available globally.

However, revenue still remains a challenge. While the overall listenership has increased since the last year, the conversion from free users to paid users failed to see the same rise. The FICCI-EY report reveals that while streaming apps have a base of approximately 200 million active monthly users, the paid subscriber base is still around 2 million users in 2020, averaging at 1-1.5%. Industry experts claim that this will fail to increase to a larger scale predominantly because several content is freely available thereby reducing the need to subscribe. “People pay for video OTT because of exclusive content however, for audio, the majority of the content is available for free on YouTube. As long as there is a free alternative, people will not pay,” an industry analyst stated at the condition of anonymity.

According to JioSaavn, the audio OTT industry has introduced an array of revenue streams outside of advertisement and subscription. For instance, online events, B2B partnerships, in-house label Artist Original, artist services and management, publishing and sync.

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