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Audio platforms offer incentives to increase subscriptions

Audio platforms offer incentives to increase subscriptions
Photo Credit: Pixabay
23 Jun, 2022
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Audio streaming platforms in India are trying to incentivise users to pay for audio content, in a market that is known for music piracy and consuming music for free. They are offering student discounts, daily and weekly plans to complement monthly and annual subscriptions as well as bundled partnerships with telcos and video streaming services to access a larger user base.

“Since few people actually pay for music in India,  we’re coming up with several innovations for middle-class Indian wallets and have a planned distribution strategy in mind to create a paying habit among users,” said Siddhartha Roy, chief executive officer at Hungama Digital Media which runs a music service. Apart from cashbacks and other offers along with PhonePe, Paytm, Flipkart and Amazon, the Hungama music service is bundled with video streaming platform ZEE5, with both ad-supported and paid options. Roy said the company is soon launching its virtual concert vertical where users will be able to attend performances by top singers and musicians for as little as ₹20. Virtual concerts gained traction during the pandemic lockdowns and platforms see them as a monetisation strategy going forward.

“Audio streaming consumption is on steep rise and more and more users are coming on different platforms. While overall subscription numbers are not growing at the same speed, there is growth nevertheless,” said Vivek Raina, managing director - Believe India, an organisation that provides distribution and marketing solutions to independent music and artistes.  A Spotify spokesperson said India is an important territory for the company to develop new models, such as Premium Mini, made specially for the country that has a  ‘sachet’ culture’ where users want to enjoy premium benefits for shorter durations or more affordable pricing. Spotify that currently offers mini, individual, duo, family, and student subscriptions, has partnered with VISA and One Plus (both come with three months free on Spotify Premium) and Flipkart (six months free of Spotify Premium), among others. “From 2020 to 2021, we more than doubled our Premium users in India,” the person added.

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During the pandemic users experiment with audio content, said a JioSaavn spokesperson. “While we witnessed a drop in morning and evening listening time, that was more than compensated by day-time listening. We also got time to analyse our users’ engagement pattern which led to the launch of small sachet paid packs and student packs, which are seeing huge adoption among customers,” the person said. JioSaavn has also tied up with OTT platforms like aha Video and Hoichoi to widen access. 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 ₹199 per month.

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.