Music and podcast streaming apps such as Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, IVM Podcasts and Hungama Music are gaining listeners amid the country-wide lockdown. According to an audio OTT report by Kantar and VTION, music streaming platforms have seen a 42% increase in time spent on their platforms in March, 2020. The data also points to a change in listening pattern on these platforms. There has been a 52% growth in the incidence of listening in the afternoons — between 2-6 PM, and an 80% rise in late-night listening — post-midnight till early morning.
Interestingly, these platforms recorded a decline in the number of streamers initially, as people stopped commuting post lockdown. But now, they are back, and are streaming throughout the day.
Most platforms have noticed a shift in the kind of content accessed by users lately. Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana, says, “User behaviour has seen significant changes owing to work from home, with non-music genres like podcasts and shows across comedy, storytelling, self-help, meditation, and devotion — that can comfortably play in the background throughout the day — receiving significant traction.” The company claims it has witnessed an increase in traffic on its platform over the last two weeks, from the metros as well as tier II and III cities.
Spotify is seeing a rise in kids content being streamed on its platform globally, as parents strive to keep their children engaged during the lockdown. The company has also seen listeners taking to health and fitness, cooking recipes and news podcasts.
IVM Podcasts, meanwhile, has seen a surge in desktop consumption. “New users who are joining our platform are especially looking for lighter content. Our shows around self-help, mental health and motivational content are seeing an upsurge,” says Kavita Rajwade, co-founder, IVM Podcasts.
These platforms are also engaging with artistes to live stream their content, as there is a dearth of fresh content. Hungama Artist Aloud’s #StayAtHome #StayEntertained initiative, shares Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media, has several renowned artistes render live acoustic performances every day on Hungama Music’s Facebook page.
The surge in listener numbers, however, isn’t translating into revenue, as monetisation is still a big challenge. “Although more people may be subscribing to these apps, monetisation remains a problem as most of them opt for free services,” says Jehil Thakkar, partner, Deloitte India.
According to a recent report by RedSeer Consulting, only 1% of the total user base of the top five music streaming apps in India are paid subscribers, contributing 40% to the revenue. The report adds that the apps will have to turn at least 6% of their users into paid subscribers, in order to become profitable.
In the current scenario, paucity of new content and maintaining the quality of it will be a challenge for these players. “These apps will have to keep innovating to keep consumers engaged,” says Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media.
Besides, these players will now have to jostle for consumers’ time along with video streaming apps, which too have seen a surge in consumption during this period. “The convenience of music streaming apps has always been preferred by those on the go, during their daily commute. Music streaming is less prevalent in a home-bound economy, as compared to video streaming,” says Prabhu Ram, head – industry intelligence group, CyberMedia Research.
To tide over these challenges, experts say, audio OTT platforms will have to focus on push marketing and aggressively send notifications encouraging users to tune in.