Spotify India today announced the rollout of its Spotify Lite app in a move aimed at attracting users who own basic smartphones and often face patchy internet connectivity.
Spotify Lite, whose beta version was released in May, can be downloaded by Android users and requires only 10 MB of memory space on your phone versus the main Spotify app that can require about 100 MB of space on your phone.
“Spotify Lite also comes with the ability to set a data limit and get a notification when you reach it. This way, you’ll be able to focus on finding your next favourite song—not worrying about data,” Spotify said in a release.
According to a Cisco report, by 2022, there will be 829 Mn smartphone users in India, accounting for 60% of the population but currently, many Indians own entry-level feature phones and with phones being launched every other month with incremental software and hardware updates, many are taking longer time to change their phones.
The India launch is part of the company’s global push to reach more users who live in emerging economies where the adoption of low-end smartphones is happening fast and the company could be aiming at pulling these users early on into the Spotify ecosystem.
Currently there aren’t any ‘lite’ version of popular music streaming apps and a simplified user interface, will make it easier for first time users, Spotify claimed.
“We announced the availability of Spotify Lite Beta in India a couple of months ago to gauge user interest, which was high. As a result, Spotify Lite is now out of test mode,” said Amarjit Singh Batra, MD at Spotify India.
Reaching Out To Aspirational Listeners
Spotify Lite, which is now available in 36 markets across Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, can be downloaded separately, both for free and paid users. It can be used either alongside or independently from the main Spotify app on all Android phones running version 4.3 or higher.
“This small, fast app will make millions of free songs more accessible to anyone who may have an older mobile device, limited storage on their phones, are in poor internet connectivity areas, or just don’t want to spend excess data on listening to music,” Batra added.
According to the IMI Deloitte report, the user penetration of music streaming services in India stands only at 6.4% in 2018. The concept of using an app to stream music is still very new in India where YouTube is the primary source to stream music (not to be confused with YouTube Music which launched in March).
Indians on an average now spend 20 hours every week listening to music, according to the India Music 360 report published by Nielsen.
Spotify’s Troubled Start in India
Spotify has had a patchy start in India. Few days before its India launch, the company also got into a legal tussle with Warner Music, which meant half of its international catalogue was unavailable in India. Then a dispute with Indian music label Saregama , which holds the rights to the first 80 years of all Hindi film songs forced Spotify to remove Saregama songs from its catalogue.
The Indian music streaming market has many players some homegrown with big backers like Gaana and JioSaavn, alongwoth foreign players such as Google Play and Apple Music. Shortly after Spotify launched, Youtube launched its music service and has on boarded 15 Mn users since. In comparison, according to Spotify on the other hand, according to the last update by the company, is said to have more than 2 Mn users in India.
The biggest roadblock for music streaming apps, including Spotify, is that Indian users currently don’t like paying for music. The country that is one of the biggest markets for pirated content, has only one percent of its 150 Mn digital music subscribers pay for a subscription and about 14% have a bundled subscription (such as Amazon Prime or Jio). The rest use the free tier of service of these streaming platforms.
Both Gaana and JioSaavn have more than 100 Mn downloads and while JioSaavn is the top-rated music app, Spotify (with 500 Mn global users) is in 2nd place (under the free category) on the Google Play Store for India.
Another factor that complicates the matter in the short-medium run is that there is no guarantee that even when these subscribers decide to pay, they will pay for more than one service and thus penetration into towns and cities that are seeing first-time adopters is even more crucial.
To tap into Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets, music services are increasingly looking at adding regional language content and also building a market for non-film content like Tencent-backed Gaana which is focussing on content in Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Bhojpuri.