February 27, 2019 / 11:33 AM / 9 months ago

Spotify steps into crowded Indian market

(Reuters) - Spotify, the world’s most popular paid music streaming service, launched in India on Tuesday, stepping into a price-sensitive market crowded by well-funded local players like JioSaavn and Apple Music.

A trader is reflected in a computer screen displaying the Spotify brand before the company begins selling as a direct listing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Swedish company said it will offer a free version of the streaming app that will run with ads, alongside a premium ad-free version that will charge users 119 Indian rupees ($1.67) per month.

The same plans in the United States start at $9.99, $11.37 in France and $13.30 in the United Kingdom. Indian users can also opt for Spotify Premium for a day for 18 cents.

Spotify is coming late to streaming in India. Apple Inc launched in 2015, followed by Alphabet Inc’s Google Play Music in 2017 and Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Music last year.

With more than 400 million smartphone users, the market is potentially huge.

Spotify India’s Managing Director Amarjit Singh Batra said there are interesting local challenges in India that the company views as “business opportunities”.

“The first is to convert users who consume pirated music; they can access music through our free tier which also gives artists the opportunity to earn from their work,” Batra said in an emailed statement.

He also pointed to the rising number of independent artists in the country, and said Spotify could provide a platform to bring fans and artists together in-app and offline.

Home-grown rivals such as JioSaavn, owned by Reliance Industries; Wynk Music, owned by Bharti Airtel; and Gaana, funded by Tencent Holdings are already well-established in India and offers low prices.

Spotify will have to work hard to win market share in the country, whose population of 1.3 billion ranks around 120th globally in terms of annual income.

According to media reports, Gaana leads the Indian streaming market with over 80 million monthly users. Spotify has 207 million monthly active users globally and 96 million subscribers.

In January, Spotify had announced a partnership with India’s largest music label T-Series, giving it access to a catalog of over 160,000 songs.

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa, Vibhuti Sharma and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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