Spotify has notched up over a million users in India in less than a week of its launch. Its India managing director (MD) Amarjit Singh Batra told Asmita Dey during an interview that the Swedish music streaming firm is here for the long term. Excerpts:
How is it going for you so far in India? You got over a million users in less than a week. Has the number increased further? Could you give us an estimate of how many paid subscribers you have been able to attract?
It has been fantastic. The first week itself was amazing but overall, the two months that we have been here, it has been quite good. We always felt Indians love music but to get a response where people truly believe that we are making a difference to their experience of listening to music makes it great. Our objective is to be long-term. We believe India has enough room and potential for a player like us to build a business here as big as what we have probably built outside. The number of users has definitely gone up but we will not be able to give you specific numbers now.
Which is the most consumed content on your platform?
We are seeing good demand for both international as well as Hindi music. Some other languages like Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi are also doing well. In the local content, we are seeing people tuning into specific playlists that we have created. We have about 150 playlists dedicated only to local languages.
What have been the entry barriers for you in India?
I would not call it barrier but it probably was the research work that we undertook. There were two-three components of that. One was understanding consumers. The second part was making sure we were able to localise the product. The third thing was looking at building a local team. We are a start-up in India right now.
How easy has it been to license content? How much did you pay for it?
I will not be able to comment on that but users in India have access to over 40 million songs. Nearly 30,000 new songs are being added every day globally.
With half a dozen firms already operating in the space and dishing out same content, how will you differentiate yourself?
Competition has not been less in other markets as well. If you use Spotify, you can create your own playlist and share it with friends. This is a big difference. On top of it, we are present in 500 devices globally, have partnered with about 200 brands and all those partnerships are slowly going to be available in India.
What are the challenges of the Indian market?
The challenge that we (not particularly Spotify, but generally) see in India is that people do not consume much content. Today, Indians do not spend much time on a music streaming service as much as an American or a European would spend. On an average, people listen to music for an hour per month. Secondly, people are lot more on free than pay and also, consumption is heavily skewed towards Bollywood music.
Are you considering tie-ups with telcos?
We have just started and focusing on making ourselves better. We are open to it but not actively looking into it at present. YouTube has launched its music app and has become quite popular.
Does it sound daunting?
I think there is a market to be created here. I think the companies that invest towards the future and help solve the problems of the market will survive in the long run.