Interview: Amarjit Singh Batra, MD, Spotify India

‘For Spotify, the maximum pricing options are in India’

A significant part of Spotify's user base is GenZ
A significant part of Spotify's user base is GenZ

Since its launch in India three years back, audio streaming platform Spotify has expanded its reach across 7,500 towns and cities. India MD Amarjit Singh Batra takes Christina Moniz through the brand’s growth in the country, the focus on regionalisation and its unique pricing strategy. Excerpts:

How has Spotify grown in India over the last year?

Spotify is now being streamed across 7,500 cities and towns in the country. India is one of the top 10 markets in terms of consumption; we have doubled our premium user base here in the last year. India is among the top 20 markets globally when it comes to people creating playlists — about 1,50,000 playlists are being created by Spotify’s Indian users every day.

We have a wide range of regional language content, and have rolled out campaigns to drive awareness for both audio streaming and the Spotify brand. We are focussing on podcasters and creators through a tool called Anchor — over 70% of our content in India comes from Anchor. Globally, Spotify is not heavily focussed on driving revenues from podcasts; in India, too, the focus for us is growth and we are still building the ecosystem. So, we haven’t yet started monetising our podcasts in India.

We also run artist programmes such as Radar India, which focus on bringing in new artists and making them successful, and have seen a 500% follower growth for these artists since 2020. We also launched a programme called Equal to give women artists a voice on our platform.

At `1,189 per year, Spotify’s premium membership in India is priced much lower than other markets. How challenging is it to sustain the business in an advertiser-heavy market?

It is low compared to other markets, but in India, it is quite a competitive price. There isn’t a huge propensity to pay for music, which is why we aim to first grow the music streaming audience. India is perhaps the only Spotify market with the maximum pricing options because we want to cater to all kinds of users. There are many who want to use Spotify just for a day or two, because perhaps they are hosting a party or are headed for a weekend out. So we have the Premium Mini, which offers our premium experience for one day and seven days at 7 and45, respectively. A lot of these users then upgrade to our monthly or annual plans. We have also experimented with family plans, student plans and even duo plans for two people. We are still evaluating data points to see what is working and what is not.

The market here is still maturing in various ways and our growth is better than the industry average. On the advertising front, we have become the preferred platform for brands to participate in audio storytelling. A significant part of our user base is GenZ, hence many brands use different methods on Spotify to connect with this consumer base, such as sponsoring a podcast or playlist. The number of advertisers on Spotify India has jumped almost threefold, to over 100 brands since our launch in India in 2019.

Your competition, like Amazon Prime Music, seems to focus a lot on regional content. How have you amped up your offering on this front?

If you look at the overall consumption on Spotify India, local is much more than international, which is a good trend. The initial phase for us has been to work in the most streamed languages — Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. We have seen a great deal of traction in these languages. From there, we have extended to Marathi, Bhojpuri, etc. On Anchor, we have podcasts in 13 languages. Our objective is to reach every language and potential smartphone user in the country. We see scope for growth, and there is potential for Indian creators to shine, too.

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