Audio streaming years for subscription manna

NEW DELHI : Audio streaming platforms are trying to woo paying subscribers with incentives, such as student discounts, daily and weekly plans, complementing monthly and annual subscriptions, as well as bundled offerings in partnership with telcos and video streaming services, to grow their user base.

While the love for free content among Indians is bleeding the music industry, streaming platforms are trying to innovate to fight the menace.

“Since few people actually pay for music in India, we are coming up with innovations for the middle-class and have a planned distribution strategy to instil a paying habit among users,” said Siddhartha Roy, chief executive officer, Hungama Digital Media.

Hungama offers cash-backs and other incentives in partnership with PhonePe, Paytm, Flipkart and Amazon, besides bundled offerings with video streaming platform ZEE5 for both ad-supported and paid subscription plans.

Roy said it will also launch its virtual concert vertical where users will be able to watch performances by top musicians for just 20.

“Audio streaming consumption is on a steep rise and more and more users are coming on many platforms. While subscription numbers haven’t kept pace with it, it is growing,” Vivek Raina, managing director, Believe India, said. The firm offers distribution and marketing solutions to independent music labels and artists.

India is important for Spotify to develop innovative models, such as Premium Mini, which was custom-made for a market open to the sachet culture where users can enjoy premium benefits for shorter durations or more affordable pricing, said a Spotify spokesperson.

The company offers a host of subscription options such as mini, individual, duo, family, and student plans, and has partnered with VISA and One Plus to offer three months of free premium content, and with Flipkart for six months. “In 2020-2021, we more than doubled our Premium users in India,” he added.

“We witnessed a drop in morning and evening listening time, but that was compensated by day-time listening. We also analysed users’ engagement pattern, which led to sachet paid packs and student packs, which are seeing huge adoption among uers,” a JioSaavn spokesperson said.

The firm has tied up with OTT players aha Video and Hoichoi to grow its subscriber base.

Shailesh Sawlani, vice-president and country general manager, Audible India, the online audiobook service owned by Amazon said India is one of Audible’s fastest growing marketplaces for paid memberships. While offering free content, the platform allows access to audiobooks and unlimited listening to over 15,000 Indian and global titles for Rs. 199 per month.

Achille Forler, founder, SyncMama, a music licensing platform for UGC (user generated content) creators said promotional offers like free trials and subscription price cuts in emerging markets have added to the growth of the music and video industry. An increase in podcast genres on the music streaming platforms has been another big factor for people to tune in.

Shahir Muneer, founder and director at Divo, a Chennai-based music and media company said that the growth of paid subscriptions in India has been slow. “It doesn’t have to do with the pricing adopted per se, but the fact that there is an overall notion in India that music is free,” Muneer said pointing out that while players like Spotify have a good rate of converting free users into paid subscribers, the same doesn’t go for all services which are largely dependent on bundling with telecom companies to benefit from monthly recharges.

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