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Spotify adds 1M unique listeners in India in less than a week (reuters.com)
234 points by doener 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 231 comments

Pretty sure a high percentage of these listeners are using free tier. And most of them using it just to brag that they are listening to music on Spotify.

Their music collection is one of the worst among all services present in India. Lots of major international records are not available. Regional music collection is not good. Only the mainstream/popular content is available. Bought the premium subscription on very first day of launch. Tried using it for few days. Found major stuff missing.

Cancelled and got the refund. Kudos to them for prompt service on this.

But very bad in comparison to Apple Music and other Indian services. Apple Music costs similar for individual account and much cheaper with a family account, has much better International and Indian collection and really good playlists collections, at least in India.

I used to pay for GrooveShark (which clearly was sketchy lol) and then Spotify, since I subscribed to Google All Music Access I have never had to pirate music just to get access to it. I can cache all the music I like (download it for offline listening) and it works on my iPad too. I wish they had an official desktop client for offline sync, but Google seems allergic to non-web desktop solutions.

I try to avoid getting sucked into Google's Ecosystem, but GAMA is pretty damn good. Sadly I don't know what the situation for GAMA looks like outside of the USA.


But my point is, I hated Spotify, I still found myself forced to "acquire" music. This is the digital age, sell me digital music I fully own. People who don't want to pay for music will not pay for it no matter what you do. At least with Google when I buy music I can sync it to my local machine, but with GAMA I don't have to. The other upside is I get no ads on YouTube since I got grandfathered into YouTube Premium. Yes, I know, AdBlock, but I got grandfathered in to no ads, why would I care about AdBlock?

Is Google Music the same as Youtube Music because I signed up a 2-3 weeks ago and have found it to be horrid at finding new music. No matter what I do it keeps trying to sneak in popular tracks into recommendations. I think of the 200 to so songs I've gone through I've clicked dislike on 185 and it still keeps pouring in the crap. As an example I put in "Anja Garbarek" and picked "Radio" and it played Maroon 5 ?!?. I put in "BodyRockers" and it played rap and EDM.

> Is Google Music the same as Youtube Music

No, Google Play Music (All Access or otherwise) is not the same thing as YouTube Music, though there have been reports and indications that YT Music may be planned to eventually replace GPM.

I've enjoyed my Google music subscription for years as well, but I think it's pretty shady that lately they keep trying to bundle in a free YouTube subscription.

I still buy movies, and I have a fair bit of purchased music from before the subscription, so I'll be more than annoyed if I end up with my media library sitting in YouTube Red if they try to converge the products. Spotify would be high on a short list of alternatives if that happens.

> I've enjoyed my Google music subscription for years as well, but I think it's pretty shady that lately they keep trying to bundle in a free YouTube subscription

Replacing GPM with YTMusic, unless the latter is updated to support everything, including personal music import and export, that the former does would be shady.

Giving me free YT Premium along with the GPM All Access I was already paying for at no additional cost is not, however, shady.

@rch -- What's the shady bundling? I haven't been paying attention. I think I'm in the same position as you -- early Google music adopter, previously uploaded my legacy mp3 library to Google music, and get ad free Y-tube.

I think if it does happen I may not bother anymore, it'll just save me $14 a month (I pay for my wife to have it too, apparently I can add 2 other family members or something at no extra cost).

> This is the digital age, sell me digital music I fully own.

From what I understand, digital downloads from iTunes and the likes are basically just a perpetual license?

It won’t get you new stuff, but if you’re trying to fill your back catalog in, you can’t beat the price of goodwill.

> Google All Music Access

nitpick, but it's “Google Play Music All Access”

> And most of them using it just to brag that they are listening to music on Spotify.

1 million people using Spotify and wasting data pack to brag to their friends? Seriously?

In India, for approximately 2 USD per month, you get 1.5 GB 4G data per day and unlimited calls.

These days, data limit is nothing to worry about in India.

I was shocked to see how cheap data was there too. You hear a lot of hectoring about being considerate of users in developing countries and being frugal with their data when designing apps and websites but at least in India it's not an issue at all.

I concur. Once you get used to mobile data plans in India, you'll realize how much American consumers are getting screwed by the likes of AT&T. AT&T behaves as if they are doing a favor to their consumers and that data is like gold, to be used with extreme respect and care.

BTW, only senders are charged for SMS in India, not receivers, unlike American carriers.

American Internet and communications service providers need some serious competition.

That was shocking to know that users are charged for receiving SMS in US!

By the way, In India most plans have some quota for free sms, which almost always go unused. Anyone who uses whatsapp doesn't even bother about sms.

> That was shocking to know that users are charged for receiving SMS in US!

In the US both senders and receivers are charged, generally. Each party pays their provider for the service of carrying messages from and to them across that provider's network.

Note that this makes each party responsible for the part of the complete message transport that they have some control over, and only that part.

So, for example, if you send me a message today, and another message tomorrow, you will pay the same amount both times even if today I'm at home and tomorrow I'm traveling to some remote area where message fees are much higher. I'm the one who pays the higher costs that are incurred due to my travel.

How would this be handled in a place where the sender pays for the whole thing? How do you find out how much it will cost you to send me a message?

In Brazil, SMSes are paid by the sender at local rates. If you are roaming internationally you might pay for receiving them, but it has been a long time since I saw charges for receiving SMSes. Probably the carrier recoups the interconnection fees when you send a SMS back.

For calls, though, the caller pays local rates, but you will pay your share of the roaming charges. Some carriers on pre-paid plans charge you a national long distance fee per call too.

in brazil, it's the same thing. i don't even remember the last time i sent an sms!

even companies are using whatsapp for notifications.

When a business is at the forefront of technological innovation and implementation for decades, the cost of infrastructure builds up, especially when labor cost goes up accordingly.

Now for a nation that is still building itself up, the labor cost is lower and you can simply take the know-hows and older hardwares from the innovators, which significantly cuts down on cost of implementation. Adding that to the economies of scale you can get at 1b+ in population and things can look obscenely cheap.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the businesses you get services from don't abuse of an oligopoly environments and other practices

If you think American consumers are getting screwed, just look at us in Canada.

You have free health care atleast.

> BTW, only senders are charged for SMS in India, not receivers, unlike American carriers.

What the heck, that's a thing in the US? How is that even legal

"being considerate of users in developing countries and being frugal with their data",

This is probably applicable to other developing countries, definitely not to India. Man, data is so cheap, 4G is widespread even in tier 2 cities. Am not sure about tier 3 towns and villages but so far, I am hard pressed to find large tracts of dead zones.

It's still an issue on the backhaul though which is still heavily contended in many of those markets.

That conclusion might be a bit strong. It might not have been expensive to you, but many in India probably do not have your income level? The median annual income level in India is under 2000 USD.

I live in India only. 1.5GB per day wont even last you through 5 HD YouTube videos. Its a good plan for people who are conservative with their Internet usage. I would probably believe 1 million users with fibre connection wasting their data just for bragging. Definitely not the people who are on 1.5 GB data plan.

HD videos take a lot of bandwidth. Spotify's default quality (I guess the highest you can get with the free tier) is only 96kbps. So if you stream that 24 hours a day it takes:

(96 / 8) * 3600 * 24 / (1024 * 1024) = 0.99GB

How does that scale? Because that sounds awesome if compared to just my own phone plan. But if you say that also fills the role of my home internet, then it's about 1TB too little.

Usually home internet is via other providers, who also have cheap plans. For instance, ACT Giga is 1Gbps, 2.5 TB for about 100 USD per month. Post this limit, speeds usually drop to 1Mbps.

$100 USD per month is absolutely crazy. My cousin pays ~$30 from MTNL and thinks it's incredibly expensive.

That's the absolute top-end of the plans they have in Bangalore. It's around 2000INR (<30$) per month for a much more moderate 150Mbps / 875GB per month plan. And consider that a lot of the urban crowd we are talking about here will be sharing the cost with 1-3 others, considerably bringing down costs.

$100 the cost of a 1Gbps Verizon FiOS subscription in the US (though theoretically your data transfer is unlimited and not capped at 2.5TB). Seems reasonable to me but I don't know what that equates to when you factor in purchasing power parity.

Even for the young employed folks this is quite the sum. The fact is though, that over the course of an average month it's pretty hard to hit these caps. Its about 800 hours of Netflix HD streaming, and you're probably not going to be able to watch that much just at home.

The salaries in India are a tiny fraction of what they are in America even for professionals.

Interesting. Thanks! I was under the impression that most Indians can't get broadband at home.

In all tier 1 cities, which are at least 10, you can get 100Mbps broadband with about 750GB to 1TB data for close to 20 dollars a month. In villages (at least 100 thousands of them) and small towns (roughly 8 thousand of them) where most population resides, the story is different. Only wired broadband provider for them is govt. owned named BSNL whose service is quite unreliable. 4G high speed wireless is accessible everywhere for cheap though.

You're right in that "most" Indians probably do not have broadband access / 4G access. But the urban centers certainly do,and they have enough by way of people to become a huge market. To put it in context, there are at least 46 cities with population > 1M (2011 census), and the top 7 cities by population will certainly have access to broadband as well as cheap 4G. These 7 will account for 50M - 55M in population. In comparison, the US has 10 cities with > 1M population ( as far as I can see on Wikipedia). So even when you account for the lesser internet penetration in India as a whole, the number of people who can possibly access streaming services is quite large.

Is it so cheap because it hasn't reached market saturation yet? Maybe not a lot of people actually use lots of data and as soon as too many people do the prices will go up.

India has 2nd highest number of Internet users in the world mate.

But do they all download 100gb of data on their LTE each month?

They dont download 100GB. But almost all of them finish their data quotas everyday by watching YouTube and Hotstar videos. Thats like 30GB - 60GB a month.

I heard this comes with forced inserted ads when browsing as well as limited internet access ( only facebook, twitter is available ), is it still valid today?

That statement was never valid in India. Facebook introduced (or tried to) FreeBasics, but they had to withdraw after Net Neutrality regulations.

You can access anything. No restrictions. Advertisements are not that much of a concern.

And how much is $2/mo when adjusted from local income/cost of living to US standards?

1$ has a purchase power of ~18 rupees. So 140rs in India is equivalent to 7$ if you do a PPP conversion.

This is based on 2016 rates. https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/india/ppp-conversion-factor

Median per capita income in India is about $650/yr. I don't know how many hours a median worker works, but to use the US standard of 2k hours per year, that's $0.32 per hour. So two dollars per month is approximately 6 hours of labor.

Now let's try this same calculation with the US. US median per capita income is about $32,000 or $16/hr. The T-Mobile One plan is currently listed on their website at $70 for a single line. That's 4.3 hours.

This is obviously a GROSS estimate, but it appears an Indian worker has to work approximately 1.39x the amount of hours a median American worker has to work for a "good" cell phone plan. You can get much cheaper pay as you go plans, but I wanted to use "mainstream" as much as possible.

For 2-4 USD, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on location and your preferences.

For about 30 USD, I can buy vegetables (excluding groceries) for the family of 2 for a month. Milk is about .75 USD per liter.

300-400 USD per month is the rent for 3 BHK apartment in good location. (I pay 220 USD for 2 BHK).

For cable tv subscription, I pay around 5 USD.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, unprepared food costs are similar to in most developed countries while everything else is far cheaper.

This is the real question.

I'm in Indonesia currently and I pay ~$13 USD for 25GB of data.

2 USD/1.5GB absolutely sounds like something to worry about. Perhaps with such limits you learn to moderate your usage...

2 USD per month, you get 1.5 GB 4G data per day 1.5GB every day for 2 USD per month

You are comparing monthly subscription prices to daily bandwidth limitations.

$2 USD for 45GB monthly or $0.07 USD for 1.5GB/daily

2USD/ month for 1.5GB per day..

When you put it that way it almost doesn't make sense, but if you change "1 million" to 0.075 percent of the population, it starts to.

>1 million people using Spotify and wasting data pack to brag to their friends? Seriously?

It's evident you don't know India... Most young people in India have dozens of pictures on Facebook of themselves pretending to talk on their mobiles with seemingly expensive sunglasses on. It's like their own particular ice bucket challenge.

This sounds like the same nonsense that old people tell about kids all over the planet.

1GB/day 4g for 90 days costs a total of ~$6 in India.

I recently visited India and was shocked at how cheap the data plan was. By far the cheapest data I’ve used anywhere in the world.

Many countries in the EU have cheap data plans. In Italy, for example, there's Kena Mobile, which sells 50GB for 6 EUR.

Can you realistically do a gig of data in a day on a 4G connection?

I used to do 120G/month when I had a limit that high, in Poland, for around 8$/month (I was able to use 2G and 3G and everything in between, too, but most of the time I was on 4G)

1 GB data is like four 720px 8 minute YouTube videos.

Just watch 5-6 Youtube videos on a decent phone (1080p or 1440p) and you're done.

Maybe not to their friends; e.g. Tinder is apparently pretty popular in India and it has integration with Spotify.

Data is cheap in India.

I'm amazed at how cheap it is. I think that even after adjusting for purchasing power the average person can afford generous data packages.

Data tariffs fell 93% and usage surged 25x in three years (2014-2017)[0]. This was brought about by Jio, which targeted to increase revenue per user which it actually did. https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/data-tarif...

I've been a long time Apple Music user. Spotify definitely has weaker collection. But, I like the cross platformness/integrations of it. I can cast to chrome cast, play it on linux, and other third party integrations. Also, spotify connect is really nice. That said, Apple did start integrating Apple music with third party providers too (alexa, google home comes to mind). We'll see how it goes.

I have a wonderful thing that Creative used to make, now discontinued I believe. It consists of a USB dongle that appears as a pair of USB stereo speakers to the computer but is actually a radio transmitter, and a matching receiver unit that has stereo line level outputs.

No need for any special drivers, or any special support on the part of music player apps. As long as whatever the player is running on knows how to use USB speakers, I can get the sound to end up at my A/V receiver.

I don't know why this approach was not more popular.

People do the same thing with bluetooth speakers now and you can get a simple bluetooth dongle for about $15 that will output to any speakers/amps/headphones.

There are web players coming up which are really polished for almost all desktop platforms. Not sure about their Android situation. Looks optimistic.

You say it looks optimistic, but you don't know about the Android situation and the only thing you have to go on otherwise is a web player that is "coming up" (and therefore does not exist). I don't see how you can come to this conclusion based on this data - you may as well say you are feeling positive for no reason at all.

Google Music perhaps the best value in India right now, massive international and local catalogue, with the right pricing.

You're speaking of Apple Music, however this implies mostly Apple hardware. How many Indians own iPhones? (and for Android, last time I tried the app, it was a piece of shit).

And personally I'm not happy with the selection of Apple Music from my country (Romania). Not only that but their radio recommendations are absolutely shit. All music streaming services actually pale in comparison with YouTube in terms of availability and even recommendations.

The only problem with YouTube is that the Premium service is only available in a few select countries. If only Google could pull its head out of its ass and give customers that want to pay money a way to do so.

What Spotify has going for it is integration with most devices you care about. Can you stream Apple Music on your Playstation? No you can't. Their apps also have an obvious feature that's sorely missing from alternatives: the ability to remotely control a device, or to painlessly switch devices and pick up where you left off. Spotify are also the only ones with a usable Linux client, with all the others you have to settle for the web interface, which sorely lacks integration with the keyboard's playback buttons.

And their selection has been improving. This reminds me of when Netflix came to Romania in 2016, their selection was shit and they didn't even have subtitles. Nowadays Netflix is widely popular and has really good shows (compared with the established alternatives).

That said nowadays I seem to get along better with Deezer (https://deezer.com), as their automated recommendations seem to work better. And btw, I tried most streaming services available, even local ones (e.g. Zonga.ro) and Apple Music is the last one I'd pick.

How did you get a refund when their premium plan comes with the first 30 days free? I signed up for the premium plan too, without having paid anything for the first 30 days. https://www.spotify.com/in/premium/?checkout=false#PLANS

I bought the prepaid plan for whole year. I was so excited. But alas!! Got the refund.

Keeping in mind the current collection available through Spotify, the more appropriate way to state the first sentence would be:

> Pretty sure a high percentage of these listeners have downloaded and tried the free tier.

Because most of us aren't really using it, are we?

Pretty much not.

I installed the app. Bought premium. Cancelled it. Uninstalled the app.

All in a matter of few days.

What are the top local competitors in India? I'm unfamiliar with the streaming music market there.

JIOSaavn, Gaana, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music (which is much cheaper as a family account), Hungama, Wynk.

All the above currently have more songs (except Prime) on them than Spotify in India does.

Google Music is a major competitor, with a massive catalogue at the right price, but they don't have a free tier.

You're right, it's just that their sign up is so complicated / glitchy / buggy, that I've never been able to get it and as a result completely forgot about their existence.

Not just in India, in US too. The only reason i’m using AM is because of their library in many languages. I can find indian songs (of many languages), english songs and songs from other languages

How does Amazon Music compare?

I used it for a while as it came bundled with Prime. It has good collection of tracks, international, mainstream and regional. But the interface is clunky and curation and discovery is almost non-existent.

Is this specific to India or in general?

Personal anecdote, but it's nice to see the growing maturity of the Indian audience - no one in my circle of friends and family is complaining that big names such as Linkin Park, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay et al. and rock/metal biggies (Slipknot/Dream Theater/Pantera et al.) are missing. Growing tastes, perhaps?

And it's amazing to see Spotify grow so quickly. Almost all of the people I know (I'm guilty of the same) used a US free-tier account, and sideloaded modded applications to listen to Spotify. I used to think that was piracy as usual, but now all of us are on 1-year subscriptions. The price sensitivity ($9.99/month in US vs $1.68/month in India) does obviously make a difference.

>Personal anecdote, but it's nice to see the growing maturity of the Indian audience - no one in my circle of friends and family is complaining that big names such as Linkin Park, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay et al. and rock/metal biggies (Slipknot/Dream Theater/Pantera et al.) are missing. Growing tastes, perhaps?

Or merely a circle of friends totally unrepresentative of mainstream Indian tastes?

More likely. Or they're listening to the Indian equivalents :)

OP, mainstream music is just that, mainstream, it's watered down precisely because most people like watered down music ;)

Slipknot, Dream Theater and Pantera are watered down? What?

And say what you will about their respective musical value, they’re not the top sellers/streamers for their genres in a way that merits comparison to Ed Sheeran.

those are not mainstream, what... next thing you'll tell me liquid tension experiment is mainstream? people on this sub live in a different world apparently

I was obviously referring to the first part of the comment...

So Spotify in India is missing a lot of the big-name artists? That's a little sad as I always felt one of the the big benefits of Spotify is they seem to have EVERYTHING. Video streaming services like Netflix are a joke in comparison.

There are three major music publishers (UMG, Sony, Warner). As long as you have contracts with them, you'll have nearly everything.

Spotify's not the only competing service that has almost everything. Tidal, Google Play Music, Apple Music, they've all managed to get a deal with those publishers. Smaller players like Deezer even manage to offer the same service to 180+ countries (compared to Spotify's 20).

Netflix and others would also have nearly everything if the majority of the movies was produced by three publishers.

> There are three major music publishers (UMG, Sony, Warner). As long as you have contracts with them, you'll have nearly everything.

If (i) you have mainstream taste and (ii) you're not in a market with a substantial domestic recorded music market like, oh I don't know, India, where the majors hold a minority of what people like to listen to.

> Video streaming services like Netflix are a joke in comparison.

Netflix realised quite rapidly that it was a fools errand to try to have everything.

Given the choice between paying top dollar for every blockbuster film (which engage people for two hours at a time), Netflix invested in TV series and producing its own material, which works out cheaper and keeps people watching for much much longer. Netflix's movie catalogue has shrunk since 2010 (mostly due to Epix moving its films over to Hulu), but the TV inventory has tripled.

Netflix also benefits from TV/movies being more fungible, and with a better long tail than music. If Netflix doesn't have a TV show or movie, you'll likely find something else you want to watch. If Spotify doesn't have Taylor Swift, it doesn't have Taylor Swift.

Netflix also benefits from TV/movies being more fungible, and with a better long tail than music. If Netflix doesn't have a TV show or movie, you'll likely find something else you want to watch. If Spotify doesn't have Taylor Swift, it doesn't have Taylor Swift.

Funny, I would make the exact opposite argument. I can 'put up with' a lot of different music in the right general genre I'm in the mood for while doing other stuff (and if one song doesn't take my fancy I can either just skip it or wait 3 minutes for the next song), but if I'm going to invest 2-10 hours of focused attention on a TV show/movie then it better be what I actually want.

I agree. I'm constantly switching between Netflix, HBO and Viaplay (streaming service in the Nordics) when one of those has a show I want to watch next and the other ones don't have that exact show. I've also started to fall back to renting and (gasp) torrenting movies again because I usually first come up with a movie I want to watch and only then start browsing the services for that movie, not the other way around.

"Netflix also benefits from TV/movies being more fungible"

Is this really the case? I mean, is there any research on this? I would guess exactly opposite is the case: I personally don't care about background music in most situations, but if I'm watching a film for two hours, I'm going to be very selective.

That means that Netflix in its current state is useless for me. As much as I applaud them for some of their production, the combination of half-empty catalogue and forced subscription model is going in the exactly wrong direction. I would pay one-time fee for Roma. I would pay subscription for a good catalogue.

Now, I don't state that it's not the case that most consumers does not care about what they watch as much as they care about what they listen. I'm just interested in some empirical data on this.

The way I see it, music is generally something you listen to multiple times, especially for favorite albums.

On the other hand, people don't re-watch movies and TV shows at nearly the same frequency. I may be wrong, but that's my observation based on myself and the people I know.

I suppose it's different for different people - not everyone is using Spotify for 'background music', they might want to sit and listen to Taylor Swift (per above example) and if it's not on Spotify, it's just like Netflix not having the film we want to watch.

Also, I'm not sure if it releases everything as matter of routine, but Netflix certainly releases some of its original content on DVD/BD.

> I always felt one of the the big benefits of Spotify is they seem to have EVERYTHING

Really. Spotify's library is decent, but I find it is missing a fair bit of content that is available on youtube, etc

Spotify India user here. At midnight when I found out from my friends that they launched in India, I switched from my $9.99/mo shared account from some internet service to Spotify's $1.67/mo within minutes.

Spotify had a pretty neat prepaid option too, where your subscription doesn't renew until you manually recharge. Was cool of them to add such an India-specific feature at launch.

It really costs 1.67$ in India?

Thats scaled according to cost of living in India.

I'm unsure if Spotify offers these plans elsewhere, but in India they have the following tiers :

Rs. 119 per month (1.7$)

Rs. 1189 per year (16.85$)

And also, funnily, "top-up" plans:

Rs. 13 for 1 day (18c)

Rs. 39 for 1 week (54c)

Rs. 389 for 3 months (5.5$)

Rs. 719 for 6 months (10.2$)

Also available are student plans, which give you a 50% discount on the monthly plans. So you could end up using Spotify for ~85c a month in India.

yes it does, but for the time being a lot of artists are not available there. so worthless for some people.

Apple Music is almost the same cost and has almost everything I want to listen to.

true but apple music's ui and music discovery feature sucks. Ongoing feud between warner and spotify will be over in coming days as both companies are loosing out on revenue, so yeah spotify will get better with time in India. But for local music listeners Gaana is still a better choice imo.

Google Play Music costs Rs. 99 (~ 1.4 USD) per month in India.

is it possible to use VPN to take advantage of that?

For someone who listens to a lot of International rock/metal/post-rock etc I can say most of the names and even some obscure Norwegian/Australian bands are present. The ppl complaining probably are referring to local content(Bollywood/Marathi/Hindi/Tamil music). The recommendation engine is fabulous as always and the podcasts section has a pretty decent collection too

No, a lot of big names are missing. I will still use it as discovery is still miles ahead of any service.

For example they are missing names like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Whitesnake, Fleetwood Mac etc.

In which region? I've had all of these all over my playlists for as long as I can remember... A decade?

I couldn’t find latest hip hop albums from Atlanta on Spotify. They’re on Apple Music tho.

Supposedly Apple Music has the largest catalog. But, catalog size doesn't matter if you can't find the song you want to hear.

I believe a lot of the legal issues with Sony/BMG and others need to be sorted out and I expect the catalogue to be at par with Apple Music soon

Jio, the largest cell phone service in India, with about 280 million subscribers, recently acquired another streaming service called Saavn, and it is available for free for Jio customers (along with their Tivo-like TV streaming service and their movies).

P.S - I work for Jio.

P.S2 - Apple music also costs the same as spotify in India.

To reply to Zuron's comments: Even assuming Spotify experience is better, it is a question of pricing. Jio currently offers unlimited calls, text and 1.5GB of data per day (which includes all you can stream) for about the same price (USD 2.10 per month for the whole thing whereas Spotify charges USD 1.70 just for music streaming). I am trying to making a humble point that there are some incredible values to be obtained at this price point in India today.

@Ing33K - Yes that is me.

Just to be clear folks Jio is run by the shadiest business person in India, with dubious and often serious malpractices.

The company I work for is going through its worst year because of JIO. It just feels good to read this here on HN. We know the truth even if the general public / consumers ignore because of disinterest, media ignores because of fear, and the Govt. looks away for self interest.

Care to elaborate? Both these comments are just name calling at this point.

Don't know much, but my Indian friends seem to like them. From what I gather they compete strongly on price (as in free) in an attempt to get into many other sectors. Once you have a wechat-esque hold on numerous market sectors making them profitable isn't really that hard, which seems to be their goal.

I certainly don't agree with this type of business model either, but then again most people I know give strange looks when I rail against FB or Google.

FB/Google rose on merit, becoming bigger with equity dilution. Now there's a community aware about the ills that come with monopolies, (i.e. power to lobby, throw weight around on users and the government) and so choose to dislike the company (or in extreme cases boycott their products).

Coming to Jio, their parent company Reliance is the biggest business group of India (the promoter is the 5th richest person in the world). The group is infamous for being corrupt in the business community and the number of questionable instances cannot even be counted. My company has done business with Reliance in the past and has never received payments for the same.

India being a lot more corrupt as a nation gives this company powers that would be unfathomable in developed nations. Just for a few small instances: this company has on many occasions changed regulation just to benefit their business model (or disruption) by sheer political clout. Even in case of Jio, the telecom interconnect charges in India were made 0, and will be changed again when Jio is in a position to benefit from them. And this is just 1 rule change. Vodafone's CEO has openly appealed that India's telecom authorities appear to be working for the interest of Jio only.

This topic is just too big to summarise, it needs a multiple volume book. You're not gonna believe this, but a few authors who have tried to write on the way this group has come up have been banned in India, this probably gives you an idea about how dangerous this group could be. Reliance's books are not believable, debts are irrational, business practices are unethical, etc, etc and the list will go on.

Yeah sure, Jio is owned by a petrochemical giant reliance which was found guilty of stealing gas from the state owned ONGC wells by justice A.P.Shah committee https://www.financialexpress.com/economy/reliance-industries... Two yrs later a new arbitration panel does not find them guilty https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/oil-gas...

A clue here Reliance is a big backer of election campaigns for the current regime.

Well this is a very established fact. They are just trying to control aspect of market from chemicals, lifestyle to digital ecosystem. Idk what would happen in coming years when there are no competition God save us from havoc.

How ? What is the truth that media ignores, and Govt. Looks away for self interest ? I am not a customer of JIO, but glad they forced by current operator to reduce the price to match theirs and improve their quality of service because of fear of loosing customer to Jio. I'm happy that Jio exist.

Jio does have a positive impact on India for sure. It has increased data consumption in India and made Indians more aware.

However, Gopal, just look at data prices world wide. India was already the cheapest in the world for telecom, and now the prices are unsustainable. Indians don't care about privacy, but this kind of pricing would require monetisation from a lot more sources than just user data. Not to mention the drop in QOS from all telcos after Jio moved pricing below cost.

I'm happy you're happy. But this isn't rational, and you don't know what kind of corrupt practices have made this possible.

There was no enough competition before jio appeared. Airtel even reduced my measly 135MB packs to 130MB. Now they are removing lifetime incoming calling as well. When you have these kind of operator no wonder people don't care.

Please enquire about the competition in the world's markets before make a judgement about the competitiveness of the Indian telecom industry.

> There was no enough competition before jio appeared.

India was the world's most competitive market for telecom, even before the existence of Jio.

What competition when my measly mb was reduced even further. They even introduced the 28 day month cycle. Low prices does not mean it's competitive.

With the 28 day month cycle and mb / gb data packs, India was still the cheapest for telecom services (and hence had the lowest ARPU).

I know that you want to defend Jio because you love the fact that you save few hundred rupees on your phone bill. But you probably don't know that if Reliance did not change regulation to make interconnect charges Rs.0 and benefit them, this would have not been possible. And I'm sure, now that they have the highest number of connections, they're going to make India introduce interconnect charges again.

With 28 days change their made users spend more money instead of 12 months it was 13 months. I am not defending jio you are the one defending airtel abuses. Don't use cheap to side step airtel user hostile policies.

> Now they are removing lifetime incoming calling as well

Don't you wonder why this happened even after the launch of cheap Reliance Communication INR 501 phones back in 2002/03? They also gave people cheap plans and phones so, we should have been in better place. Then why is it that years later people have to struggle even for free lifetime incoming calls?

The reason is simple - Other telecos had to reduce prices to fight against customer migration to RCom. And then years later they were eating losses left and right thanks to RCom. They had to remove incentives to get back into profitability. Meanwhile, Reliance Communication is nearly bankrupt.

Exactly, and this is what the broadband and cable industry was hoping for. However, for the moment, Jio's launch remains successful, and the major difference between then and now being data and the new ways to monetise it.

I do not hope for Jio's demise (not that it matters), but certainly hope that regulation is at least fair to all players and doesn't conveniently pave the path for its dominance over Indian industries like many people aware of the matter (spokespersons from telco infra providers like Ciena, RAD, CISCO, HUAWEI, etc.) have been saying.

We can also say that Airtel and other telecom were looting Indian customers before Jio came up. Just because Jio is offering competition doesn't mean they are corrupt.

Hahaha, one look at the world's telecom ARPUs should give you a better clue about whether you can say that Airtel was 'looting Indian customers' or not. Also I never said that Jio is corrupt because it's cheaper. Just try to read about the changes in the telco regulation as Jio launched and what industry people have to say and the answer will be clear.

Unfortunately the same is true for Facebook/USA. But that doesn't seem to stop people from using WhatsApp.

Come on. Don't bring r/india here. Keep the discussion meaningful.

But, let's be honest, the experience that Spotify provides is way better than what Saavn does. I can change music remotely on any device, get much better recommendations, and listen to podcasts conveniently.

The only recommendation system I really liked was of Pandora. Spotify's is a joke, playlists and radio got a lot better compared to 2-3 years ago but I can't just put the radio ON and forget like I can, with Pandora.

Ah yes, Pandora is better (tried it over a VPN once), but I live in India, so was speaking from that perspective. Spotify comes second for me personally. I've tried them all.

Apple Music's family subscription costs on Rs.180 for 6 users. That's an order of magnitude cheaper than Spotify, which to me seems super hyped. There can't be 1 single best way to discover music, people tell me that they find great music through me, but that's because I constantly listen to new music with the intention of finding great songs. Buying a few recommendation companies can't solve music discovery.

Why the hell does that music player need to know my location every goddamn time I open it is beyond me.

I like Gaana more, It seems to me, it has bigger collection than Saavn. Their business model ( pay for download, free to listen online ) failed completely because of Jio, still they are surviving somehow. Please also buy Gaana, while you guys are at it.

Yep, the only thing that I miss in Gaana is a desktop app (which Spotify has).

Saavn was always free. Jio is just offering its paid subscription free for the first 90 days.

Is net neutrality a thing in India? Because that sounds like a clear case of an infrastructure providing content which could lead to a lot of conflict of interest (like the bundling and lower price that you mention)


Hey, I remember you from your username. you were hiring for some fintech company. Were you hiring for JioMoney ?

This is just positive PR now that Spotify is publicly traded. It's not a serious indication of their success in this market.

This truly just means that 1 million people in India "downloaded" the app: a good share who were waiting for it and wanted to pay and a great share that are using it since it's also offered here for free. Plus there's already strong competitors with cheaper services and a lot more songs (including Apple Music).

If Spotify's only USP will be its song discovery, I doubt they'll get a lot of Indian users to switch just for that.

The goal is likely to show that they are managing to penetrate the competitive Indian market, a valuable market to be in, in the long run.

Whether they are able to remain competitive is another matter.

That's not a bad number to start with! I have used Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, Google Music, Saavn and Gaana etc. They all differ from one another in terms of collection. Now I am using Spotify in India -- though at this point in time it lacks a collection of regional music and playlists, it still has the better interface and options to use it across different devices compared to others. I guess once Spotify curates better regional music, it will have an edge over other services.

I would love some good Bhangra sources. Spotify is good for "Hottest 100" lists but digging deeper seems hard from within the app, I rely on external blog playlists like Dummy. I've yet to see a music app nail discovery.

For punjabi songs, I feel Apple Music and Saavn are the best. Both have really good collection and atleast Apple Music has a good curation of playlists as well. Have been using it for almost a year now.

Amazon prime music also has a very large collection of music + gaana.com offers yearly memberships for 99rs and Jio has saavn which is free for Jio users (at least currently) so they are up against some very tough competition since most of these services are ad free and free.

People are joining Spotify for the "cool" kid factor - they want to differentiate themselves. Much like buying iPhones in my mind.

I buy iPhone because it’s better than android.

I am not talking about the western market. iPhones are extremely costly here and generally sold unlocked. Buying it is for the status even when people have to do EMIs.

I'm not talking about the western market either. I'm saying "people buying spotify for the cool kid factor" is false.

That's some pretty amazing numbers for one week! I wonder how it affected Apple Music with cancellations.

It is interesting that Spotify is $1.68 in India.

This includes both free and paid tiers. I am not sure if there's a strong reason to celebrate. I would speculate that most of these users are in the free tier. Spotify's catalogue for India is severely limited with the feud they are having with WMG, which makes it—despite being the best music streaming app—quite an unattractive option.

Actually it's not too bad. I was able to find most of my favorite Kannada and Telugu Songs.

I was more than happy to cancel my Apple Music Account as soon as I was able to install Spotify in India. I primariy use an Android Device and use an iPhone as a bakup device. Apple mucic app on Android sucks.

I am on an iPhone and an Apple Music user. Got Spotify premium the very first day hoping to find good curated playlists. To my shock, I couldn't find a lot of mainstream Indian and International tracks, very limited playlists, and ever more limited regional and classical music curation. Cancelled my subscription just yesterday and got the refund. Apple Music still remains the go-to music platform in India despite so many competitors.

I’ve used for a few months before jumping to AM. The reason I moved was due to lack of indian songs library on Spotify. Although, initially AM sucked with their collection, at least it have some of the regional indian songs I wanted. I’m so glad I stuck with it, because lots and lots of indian albums have been added and continues to do so.

You'd be more interested in knowing that Apple Music's family offering (for 6 users) is for $2.54/mo in India. Yes that's correct, $2.54 for 6 users!!!

It's not shocking without comparing spending powers though.

What's the price of roughly equivalent street foods in Mumbai vs. New York, for example.

I'd wager the multiple's not far off that between 6 user Spotify in the two countries.

Yup, I agree, and that's a smart move by these international cos.

The average Indian street food in Mumbai for 1 person is half a dollar.

Apple users in India are negligible. There are just 10M iphones in India compared to 300M android users. Of course that number is just 1/3rd of Canada's 30M iphone users.

30M iPhone users on a 36M population? I strongly doubt that.

Actually It is something like 25M total mobile phone users. But 30M is a reasonably good upper bound.

Maybe 30M Iphone sales in Canada?

I have no idea how reliable statista [1] is, but they seem to agree. It seems kinda insane though so I'm hesistant to believe it...

[1] - https://www.statista.com/statistics/274772/forecast-of-mobil...

That's phone users, not Apple iPhone specifically.

You are totally right. My bad - searched for iPhone, clicked and was too tired to check properly.

Apple Music is available on Android.

I had a bad experience with their app on Android. The collection is not great either.

I use Apple Music on Android, in India. (The list of Indian titles available in Apple Music has been impressive, so I am inferring from that there's enough demand to keep the catalogue updated.)

And the news is?

In a country with 1.4+ billion people, you just put up ads for the new service, make sign up and basic functionality free, and even a "urinate on your carpet" service could get 1M uniques on a few days...

Ha ha. That's true. Also, the craze towards anything American in India is mind-boggling. People are going to install and use it for some time even if they don't like the service.

I’m not too familiar with this hypothesis, do you have any sources I can refer to?


Sorry, I don't ascribe to the theory that people shouldn't use their observations of industry/society/media/etc and brains to make deductions unless there's a ready-made paper and some stats they can quote.

I came with this hypothesis on my own, without referencing some media industry analyst...

I think the poster probably refers to the basic math of the number of subscriptions/size of the market.

Hitting 0.07% of the market with a free service in a few days is not impressive, do you really need a source for that?

Most of them talking about price and free tier. But I think good apps and good service is what can attract more listeners to Spotify. Their app is world class and a good competition to Apple Music. They have huge collection of curated playlists and new generation surely loves listening international albums and not just local music. I think they are going to grow faster and become a good competition to JioSaavn, Gaana, Wynk. There is a high chance some of them are going to shut down soon.

That's one way to stop piracy: go to the market. (:

Still doesn't solve Spotify's core long term issue : if they make lots of money, right holders know exactly how hard they can negotiate for better fees. Netflix fights that with their own content now, but Spotify doesn't seem to be interested to go that way (and I'm not sure they could anyway).

So they're pretty much trapped into being a barely profitable company that's also milking money to the content owner.

Barrier to creating new music is much lower than for a TV show or movie, so record labels generally have much less power over the industry than TV/film producers & distributors. Services like Spotify and Apple Music can always go to artists directly, so it's in the record labels' best interests to negotiate in good faith.

Spotify is producing their own music. Those recommended playlist of piano music, chill, or whatever general theme with artists that you have never heard about? That is because it has been produced by them is only available there.

Probably not at the same scale as Netflix and the sources on how common it actually is seems limited, but interesting nonetheless.

Edit, apparently Spotify has refuted this. Imo, it would make sense for Spotify to do this, so not sure what to think https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/13/are-spoti...

That's an interesting idea though, like basically "Spotify as a record label." They could sign & develop talent, maybe develop a distinctive in-house style, have a whole Brill Building type thing going on.

I watched a video on this subject a while ago; it posited that while Netflix will be able to increase their profit margins, because they pay a fixed amount for licenses (and now their own content), whereas Spotify has a pay-per-play structure. Meaning, Netflix's profit margins are flexible, while Spotify's will grow and shrink equally to their subscriber count.

Which is fine of course, as long as it's sustainable AND artists earn a fair amount. Which for Spotify is debatable, in that as an artist you can't make a living off Spotify unless you have millions of streams.

Here in the USA: Spotify: $10/month Netflix: $9/month

I'm unsure how Spotify and the Artists are not making good money. Are the record companies syphoning off all the profits?

Ben Thompson's been talking about this a lot recently. The tldr is this is a big reason why Spotifys been making a big push into podcasts, because its hard to impossible for them to make money because of how the value chain works I music.

Ben Thompson on Spotify: https://stratechery.com/2018/lessons-from-spotify/

He does list as one possiblity that Spotify will one day cut out the labels from the value chain. I personally think it is inevitable; the labels used to source, market and distribute music, and there is nothing (except the "admission cost") that I can see will prevent a distributor such as Spotify to become a label. Spotify has a strong brand name which can be leveraged as a strong asset for "great music" if they do it right, whatever that means. Can't see them put other labels out of business though. Their blue ocean can be to completely ignore physical and go fully virtual, perhaps even as far as offering immersive 3D concerts online, with artists that never appear in person - or perhaps in the future with virtual artists that never even existed irl.

There is also nothing inherently wrong in just being a distributor. Sometimes harvesting a stable profit over decades is better than growing like cancer and then crashing because you're yesterday's news. However the record labels are a threat against the stability and hence it is most likely that Spotify will push to become independent, just like Netflix.

> there is nothing (except the "admission cost") that I can see will prevent a distributor such as Spotify to become a label.

1. The record companies won't be happy with Spotify encroaching on their turf and will take their music away (see: Netflix).

2. There's far more to record label activities than releasing music. Production, promotion, marketing, distribution. How do you make a name for yourself in the modern music landscape when anyone can upload their music onto Spotify? Name a popular artist that doesn't have a large record company behind them, besides Chance.

It won't be too long, I'm sure, before Spotify gets into the market of licensing music for podcast productions, allowing them to double-dip - once during production, and again upon release.

Giving away everything for free is a way to solve piracy. For some definition of solve.

That’s clearly 1 million which was waiting for this.

Let’s see how the numbers change from now on. That will be a lot more interesting.

I have Spotify India on my phone, so I guess I'm a part of the 1 million that was waiting for this.

I was about to pay for it even thought it's offered as a free service as well. However, once I gave it a go, I realised the collection available in India is quite disappointing and this is clearly not what the 1 million were waiting for. PS - I'm not really using Spotify, even though I'm counted as a user.

Honestly, I'll rather pay $15/mo for the US version of spotify then get the Indian version. Most of the songs, I listen to are not available in Indian Version. songs from artists like green day, linkin park, coldplay, etc.

I used Spotify at first via VPN and then went for a premium account and it's been around 3 years since then. I know a lot of other folks that did the same (using it via VPN, not really the premium part) and most of them ended up switching the country tab from US to India the day Spotify quietly launched here. Don't have any evidence to back up my claim but I think a large majority of the first 1 million unique listeners are made up of these folks.And also they(myself included) have evangelized Spotify to their friends/family/twitter followers

India has free song service from Jio(Saavn) and Airtel, 2 largest mobile service provider. Few independent players like Gaana which are half the price of Spotify and Amazon Prime music which is at same price as Spotify but comes bundled with Prime Video and Shopping benefits. So uphill battle for Spotify.

I wonder how many of those listeners were already using spotify through cracked APK's.

Even with cracked APK, there was no option to set the region to India. With that, the stats for US must have gone down a bit after users switched their region to India.

Entire Pantera discography, Pearl Jam discography and many older songs are missing.

It's good for recommendations but the collection isn't great. I'll stick with the much cheaper prime, 15 USD Per year gives you video, faster delivery and music.

This feels like a small number considering 1.3+ billion people live in India.

Sure 1m out of 1.3 as a percentage is small.

Out of those 1.3bn, how many are children below 13 or seniors above 65? I wouldn't count those as targets of Spotify.

Further still how many of the remaining pie is connected to the internet? Remember India has vast swathes of the country that are extremely poor. So take those out of the pool.

Now of the remaining pool how many are eligible to pay for a service like this?

Okay and what subset of that started using spotify in the past 7 days?

The number is for sure smaller than 1.3bn and when accounting for the tiny time frame its enormously impressive. I actually find it impressive that you don't think that is a fantastic conversion in the space of a week, I wonder how many products in the history of mankind have achieved something like that?

The new video game Apex Legends hit 2.5M players in its first day, 25M players in its first week.

Not that this detracts from Spotify's accomplishment. It's just worth pointing out what's possible.

Is that worldwide or in India?

Worldwide. But then let's account that it's only for people who can install that game, where in recomended its 6Gb Video memory

Almost 0.1% of an entire country's population in a week is a small number?

Rounding up from 0.075% to 0.1% feels a little generous

Mostly because people who listen to local songs are already using gaana/saavn/youtube, which arguably have a better catalogue when it comes to indie artists and songs in local languages.

And people using Jio already have access to JioMusic/Saavn.

The entire population of a country is rarely the target market.

Glad to see this, I think all US based internet companies, ( not only the giant ones but small ones too ) should grab the Indian market which, because if Jio, growing at many folds. Couple of years back, It was not possible to watch movie online, and now, each individual in my family has 3 GB / Day data plan, so much to the point where we hardly turn on the tv. same can also be possible to infrastructure and industrial / corporate products. I can see in couple of years all major Enterprise software running in cloud for majority of Indian industry.

Why US based? Spotify is Swedish.

Spotify is the best streaming music service, nothing else comes close to competing.

Pandora is still decent for discovery.

What's the reason for that?

Sounds good, as Youtube music is coming for the market. Go Spotify!

PS. Still miss you in Ukraine

I'd like to be also a user for 1.60$/Month instead of 9.99€

Make Spotify family account and share it with friends or use VPN and make Premium Philippines account.

do you care about your password? I do

Sharing a family account doesn’t mean you give your password away.

The way it works is one person pays and that person can add 5 other accounts to his ‘family’ to give them access to premium.

I didn't know about that kind of account

I like the social in Spotify better than iTunes a lil

In India, Spotify Premium is 119 INR / month, while Apple Music is 120 INR / month. Spotify also have few other options, like annual membership, and student plans.

While recommendation is off the charts, the collection simply isn't there. Mostly due to licensing issues, I assume.

For instance, really loved the tracks from Suits, and got my own playlist on YouTube too, consisting off some nice tracks compiled from tunefinder.

But the Spotify track list is only a subset, and not all those tracks are available.

Am on iOS, so no Google Pay Music on phone, and for me Apple Music is no worse than Spotify, except when it comes to search.

> Am on iOS, so no Google Pay Music on phone

What does that mean? Google Play Music works fine on iOS.

And so does YouTube music.

In my experience Apple Music is really good. I have found almost all songs I have searched for. Everything including very old regional songs to international indie artists and Japanese anime openings. PS. Suits soundtrack was one of the very first things I searched for and found many playlists with most tracks on it. And tunefind actually provides direct links to Apple Music so that you can immediately add it to your library.

Why can’t you use Google Play Music? It’s available on iOS.

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