At 21 hours a week, Indians clock higher listen time on OTT platforms than global average

A latest study by Hungama Music shows users making an increased preference for content that is local and in their language 

audio OTT

Making money from music has gone beyond the sale of cassettes and CDs. Like video content, audio too has also found the OTT way to increase reach and profitability. 

Valued at US $280 million, the Indian audio OTT industry has been on a growth trajectory. At present, the revenue from the audio OTT industry contributes 67 per cent of the total recorded music revenue in India.

“If a Despacito can become a hit in India, if K-Pop can cross geographical boundaries, then the scope for music from India is infinite. Music in regional languages is poised to dominate local and international markets driven by the reach of the audio OTT platforms,” said Blaise Fernandes, President and CEO of Indian Music Industry (IMI), the apex body that represents the interest of the record labels in India.

A report, based on a study by IMI and Deloitte, shows how the audio OTT industry in India is set to grow at a rapid rate. It says the share of digital music revenue in the Indian music industry has shown a steady growth from 51 per cent in 2013 to 78 per cent in 2017. Of the total music revenue, the audio OTT revenue has accounted for 66.8 per cent at Rs 567 crore in the same year.

“India is a music loving society. The launch of various Indian audio OTT platforms like JioSavaan, Gaana, Hungama, Wynk and Vodafone-Idea along with international platforms like Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play and now the arrival of Spotify offer immense potential for the growth of the audio OTT industry, not just in India but across borders as well,” Fernandes added.

Players in the industry have also made the most of this growth. Hungama Music, for instance, has registered a 37 per cent growth in music streaming sessions since 2017. Users spent 145 million hours streaming music, leading to a 22 per cent growth in the time each user spent while listening to music. While the number of streams have tripled since the year before, users downloaded 40 million songs in 2018, 29 times more than 2017 for offline listening.

“The last few years have completely altered the music streaming landscape in the country. Affordable data plans and increasing smartphone usage are fast making streaming the go-to mode of music consumption for consumers,” said Neeraj Roy, founder and CEO, Hungama Digital Media.
Earlier this week, international audio streaming platform Spotify entered the Indian market. Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director at Spotify India said: “Indians love music. It’s an inherent part of our lifestyle and culture, whether we pray, work or relax. Through our unmatched personalised experience, we want users to find the best music from India and the world, and empower Indian artists to find new audiences in India and worldwide.” 

Spotting the trend in India, Spotify has curated and promises to regularly update the playlist, personalised especially for the Indian audience. The curation would also track city specific hits and make playlists from the best of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.  

The country indeed has audience for the variety of music being offered by various platforms. At least the numbers say so. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – representing the recording industry worldwide — found in a recent survey that Indian consumers spend 21.58 hours per week listening to music when the global average is 17.89 hours per week, clearly making India a music-loving country. 

The Indian recorded music industry has emerged as a major growth driver for the revenues generated in the global recorded music industry in the last few years. Thanks to the rapidly evolving technological landscape, the growth and revival of the domestic music industry took the overall revenues to Rs 850 crore in 2017. 

Despite operational and regulatory hurdles such as piracy of music, the value gap, challenges in monitoring of content, commercial exploitation of music, and lack of awareness regarding copyrights and royalties, the Indian recorded music industry is currently ranked 19th, globally, in terms of revenue.

According to the Deloitte report, the expected growth in smartphone users to 829 million in 2022 from 404 million at the end of 2017 highlights a digital revolution, in the way music is being consumed on digital platforms. At the end of December 2018, there were nearly 150 million music streaming users in India.

In more good news for digital users, Saregama Carvaan recently introduced a feature where one can use the companion app for Carvaan by the same name both on iOS and Android and choose songs from a gallery of 5,000 retro Hindi music or create their own playlist.

The kind of music being consumed on the various new platforms has also been evolving. Interestingly, regional music seems to have taken a lead in the OTT space. Early this week, Hungama Music came out with a study ‘Sound of Fame’, according to which users have been showing an increased preference for content that is local and in their language. 

Surpassing the annual growth seen in Hindi music streaming, Punjabi, Tamil, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Marathi and Bengali each have registered an over 2.5 times growth. Though, at 52 per cent Hindi remains the largest contributor to the total number of streams, non-Hindi languages are increasingly gaining a stronger foothold with Punjabi contributing 15 per cent, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam together grabbing a 13.5 per cent in the national streaming pie.

The number of streams and Time Spent Listening (TSL) have increased the most in the north-eastern states, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, each registering a growth of over 3.2 times in both the categories in the year gone by. These were followed closely by West Bengal and Kerala each with a 3X growth. 

Maharashtra remained the state to receive the maximum number of streams in 2018, with a 16 per cent contribution to the national figures, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 12 per cent. The top 5 states – Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Gujarat — contributed 53 per cent to the total number of streams received in 2018.

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