Swedish online music service Spotify is reported to have set up its office in India and is most likely to launch its services in the country. The key issue to be watched is how much of localized content Spotify is able to offer, particularly in competition with the established players like Gaana and Saavn.
The information on this has been obtained through the submissions made with the Ministry of Company Affairs, confirming that Spotify has opened its office in Mumbai in 2017. There are no indications when operations may begin.
It may be relevant to note that Spotify took an unusual route of listing its stocks in the NYSE directly without floating an IPO. This is seen as a path-breaking move and may even find it being followed even by Indian companies. Direct listing saves the cost of floating the IPO and also the stockholders need not be burdened with a lock-in period.
The Indian market could be a complicated one for Spotify to easily launch its services and succeed, since there are many languages and forms of music, though the dominant genre might be Bollywood music. And that is where the competition from the above named home-grown music services will come in.
Regional content will also have a role to play. Similar to what one witnesses in the visual media where companies like HBO create a niche for themselves with original content, companies like Gaana have their own original digital content and they encourage new artists to record their music and make it available on their platform. Whether Spotify also enters into such arrangements in India remains to be seen.
Internationally, Spotify enjoys a huge edge over its nearest rival Apple Music with 70 million subscribers to Apple’s 30 million. When compared to this, Gaana is estimated to have 50 million active monthly users, as per last reckoning.
Lastly, Spotify will have to consider its pricing strategy also for the Indian market. Elsewhere, the site has a subscription model called freemium that permits full access for a payment. If it has to follow the Apple way, then a pricing of around Rs 100-120 per month may be the ideal level.