Bold decisions ft. Spotify India

Bold decisions ft. Spotify India

Which app do you use to listen to music? Let me guess, Spotify. It has been widely used by the Indian audience for a long time. People use it because of its amazing playlists, easy-to-use UI, collaborative music curation features, and more. Spotify has been the gold standard for music streaming, but this is now changing.

Spotify has always had a simple pricing model, letting you listen to music for free, with ads. It charges a nominal subscription fee of INR 119 or USD 11.99 or AUD 12.99, which is pretty decent. This premium subscription allows you to stream music ad-free, download music, and more. This subscription model has been successful globally. However, with India being a very price-sensitive market, many users opt to use the free plan. As a business, Spotify needs and wants more premium users. In an attempt to improve its revenue, Spotify India rolled out some major changes to the free plan that significantly restrict its features.

This is the prompt that Indian Spotify users were greeted with:

Outrageous, right? Imagine having to pay just to listen to the same song again or go back to the previous song. Or imagine having to pay to shuffle your playlist. Well, it is understandable that Spotify wants to capitalise on its wide user base in the Indian market, but this is equivalent to destroying its product. A music player fundamentally has three key buttons: play/pause, forward, and backward. With this new update, Spotify can no longer qualify as a music player because it is depriving its users of a key functionality.

This makes me wonder whether people will actually move away from Spotify. Despite pushing strong business numbers over the past year, Spotify has fallen behind in innovation. Alternatives like Apple Music, which are priced lower in the Indian market, deliver higher-quality music. Apple Music also offers better lyrics integration with music vocals and has an overall better design. Additionally, Apple Music has more Hindi music compared to Spotify due to music rights issues. So popular music albums like 3 Idiots are not available on Spotify. Couple of months ago, it was also rumoured that Spotify was planing to shift its lyrics feature under a paywall, so you would have to subscribe to their premium plan to listen to music. Not to forget, the length if each ad and frequency of ads has also increased over the past couple of years. This has already significantly impacted consumer satisfaction.

Spotify has been making bold moves and it makes me wonder if it will be able to benefit from such strong decisions. And considering how sensitive the Indian market is to price, users might just end up moving to free alternatives such as Amazon Music or pay for subscriptions like YouTube Premium with not only gives them ad-free music but also ad-free video content.

Maybe, it is time for Spotify to innovate and improve its product, rather than focusing on admin & business decisions to add value to its streaming service.

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