Spotify, the world’s biggest music streaming service, and New Delhi-based T-Series, a music and film company, signed a global content deal wherein T-Series will provide its entire music catalogue on the Spotify platform, a development that is being seen as a precursor to the Sweden-based company’s India entry.
The deal, announced on Monday, will see Spotify users gain access to T-Series’ entire Indian song catalogue including Bollywood and regional movie soundtracks, as well as non-film albums and emerging artist content.
“Today’s deal with T-Series significantly strengthens our Indian music catalogue, bringing Bollywood to more than 200 Mn Spotify users worldwide,” said Paul Smith, director, head of International Licensing at Spotify.
In March last year, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek revealed that the company was planning to launch in India during an investor day presentation. In November, it was reported that the company could launch in India in the next 6 months, with an extended trial period.
The deal with T-Series, which claims to be India’s leading music company, will give the company a strong content portfolio of Bollywood music and Indi-pop music.
“I am sure Spotify’s expertise earned in mature markets will be helpful for the Indian streaming industry and will pave the way for a paid ecosystem in the streaming business in India,” said Neeraj Kalyan, T-Series president and digital head.
Kalyan has already pegged Spotify to disrupt the Indian music streaming market even before it has launched. The country at present has the likes of Apple Music, Google Play and other indigenous music streaming services like JioSaavan and Gaana.com but the the share of paid subscribers is estimated to be comparatively small.
Will India Take To Music Streaming
According to a KPMG report published in 2015, India’s recorded music business was set to nearly double over the next five years, led by digital, bringing in an total annual income of INR 18.9 Bn ($300 Mn) in 2019.
Currently, the bulk of app-based music subscribers are on Google Play Music but it isn’t clear how many of them opt for the paid subscription. In total, most Indians use YouTube to stream music, a trend that rides on the tailwind of cheaper data costs catalysed by Reliance Jio’s entry into the telecom market.
In March, Reliance Jio acquired Saavn in a $1 Bn-plus deal. Gaana and Saavn have previously raised money from big investors such as Tiger Global and Tencent, another indication that global investors are getting in on the music streaming boom in India.
In light of this, the entry of Spotify will be the epitome of a trend that has been taking shape over the previous few years and in the future one can expect to see more consolidation of music streaming users which will also be a litmus test of the willingness of Indian users to pay for content.
If the Over The Top (OTT) online video streaming boom is anything to go by then music streaming companies have much to look forward to. Netflix added seven million new streaming subscribers globally in Q3 2018, two million more than it expected in part because of the growth in its Indian user base which the California-based company now counts as its top three behind Brazil and the U.S.
But it is important to remember that paying for music and paying for video may not necessarily be the same ball game.
T-Series Vs PewDiePie
Prior to the Spotify deal, T-Series made international headlines when the Swedish YouTube star PewDiePie’s (real name Felix Kjellberg) five-year reign as the most-subscribed-to channel on YouTube was challenged by T-Series, with the company inching close to becoming the most subscribed channel on Youtube.
PewDiePie ran a campaign to get people to subscribe to his channel and asked his supporters for help, with some of them going out of their way like buying billboard ads and even hacking printers urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie.
Although Bhushan Kumar, managing director of T-Series had said that the company is not competing with PewDiePie, both the channels are currently at 80 Mn subscribers on Youtube.
With the Spotify deal and a more international reach, T-Series may look to become the most subscribed channel on YouTube in the longer run and it’ll be interesting to see how Pewdiepie and his famous nine-year old army (a banter in which Felix calls his supporters nine-year-olds) reacts to this new development.