Product Managers Race To Capture The Indian Streaming Music Market

Steaming music is popular in India, but who will people listen to?
Steaming music is popular in India, but who will people listen to?
Image Credit: Gabriel Jorby

In just the past few years, the music industry has been rocked. Once upon a time people would go out to the store and purchase a CD with the latest music album on it. However, that all changed when Apple opened their online music store. Now people were able to purchase digital copies of their music and download them onto their phones, tablets, and computers. Well, things have changed once again. Music streaming services have shown up and now people can tune in to listen to song after song in a wide variety of styles and types. If the user subscribes to the music streaming service, they can listen to music from one specific artist or a specific set of songs. India is one of the world’s largest untapped markets and music streaming is only now arriving there. Which streaming service will serve this new market?

Winning Ears In India

So here’s something that you may not realize. It turns out that the most popular music-streaming service in India which is the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, isn’t from Spotify Technology or Apple. Instead, it is a local rival little known outside of India. Gaana named after the Hindi word for “song,” has used a hyperlocal approach and cut-rate pricing to beat the competition and attract 152 million monthly users. You need to understand that is more than half of Spotify’s global user base, double Apple Music’s global count and far more than YouTube Music and’s music services.

Product managers at other streaming services need to realize that Indian consumers are flocking to Gaana, analysts say, because it has been built for them. What this company has done is to create a library of more than 45 million songs, mostly from India and in more than 20 regional languages, including auto-tuned Punjabi-language pop ballads, Hindi hip-hop and devotional tunes for the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman. Some of its international rivals also boast voluminous libraries of global hits, most lack the depth of regionally specific songs from India that Gaana offers. What the Gaana product managers have used their product development definition to realize is that in India you have to understand the consumption habits by region and even by city.

The Gaana product managers have an edge over international rivals because its teams have more local knowledge, conducting research across the country to uncover emerging artists and unlikely listening trends. So far only about half of India’s 1.3 billion people are online. This means that global tech firms have been scrambling to establish themselves in the world’s biggest pool of new internet users. This means that hundreds of millions of people are sending their first WhatsApp messages, buying their first items online – and streaming their first songs – as data prices plummet and inexpensive smartphones proliferate.

Becoming The Streaming Service In India

Every product manager realizes that every global player is trying to get a share in India. The reason for this is because the market is very nascent and not at all saturated. Many Indians already have an intense relationship with music. Music is part of celebrations, religious worship, movies and cultural traditions. Indians spend an average of 21.5 hours of their week listening to music, some 20% higher than the global average. When accessing the internet became affordable, music was one of the first things that many Indians consumed on their smartphones. Understanding this trend explains why the world’s most-watched YouTube channel is T-Series, which shows Indian music videos and has racked up tens of billions more views than any other channel.

Product managers for Sweden’s Spotify and YouTube Music launched their products in India early last year and have been advertising on billboards and online. TikTok parent Bytedance last year chose India as one of two markets, along with Indonesia, to test its first-ever music streaming app, called Resso. Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music have been available in India for several years but haven’t been able to match the level of Gaana’s popularity. International growth in emerging markets is key goal for Spotify’s product managers. The company has been looking to ways to boost its listener base in new countries like India. Apple is eyeing digital services such as music streaming as a way to keep growing even as it faces a maturing smartphone market at home.

Music-streaming revenue globally hit $24 billion last year. Being part of that would look good on anyone’s product manager resume. India so far accounts for just a sliver of that, some $200 million last year. But streaming revenues in India are projected to climb to $400 million in four years and should continue to rise as hundreds of millions of new digital listeners turn to their mobile devices for music. While the product managers at Gaana have a head start, they will need to continue to innovate to stay ahead of the competition. Another music-streaming service popular in India is JioSaavn, which is controlled by one of India’s largest conglomerates. What the Ganna product managers need to remember is that many Indian consumers shop around continuously and will abandon services if they find a better deal or juicier offerings elsewhere.

What All Of This Means For You

The world of music has undergone many changes in the past few year. The latest craze is streaming music services. India is one of the largest countries that is just now starting to have its people come online. This means that the population of India is a prime candidate for streaming music services. The product managers at the big names in this new business want to use their, product manager job description to capture as many customers as they can; however, a local startup has currently taken the lead.

A local startup firm in India called Gaana has captured 150M monthly subscribers – more than Spotify and Apple. Gaana has stocked its musical shelves with local India music in a number of different languages. The Ganna product managers have more local knowledge about what their customers want then their global competitors do. Indian customers already have a love of music. As they go online, they are naturally seeking to get access to the music that they already enjoy. India is an important market for all of the streaming music companies. The Indian streaming music market is still small. However, it is forecasted to grow. Ganna is going to have to deal with more local competition.

The market for streaming music is a huge market. Since this market is not yet well established, it is still open to anyone who wants to play in it. Gaana is currently the market leader in India because they understand the Indian customer better than anyone else does. However, they need to be careful because both Spotify and Apple are quick studies and can learn what they need to be doing. The market is still wide open and anyone can win the ears of the Indian music lovers.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think Spotify has to do in order to be successful in India?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we think about what it would be like to be the product manager for a very successful product, we often think about something that everyone has. If that is the criteria that we use, then the product managers at FitBit would certainly meet the criteria. It seems as though just about everyone has one of those FitBit gadgets on their wrist. Having been that successful, the big question that the FitBit product managers have to be asking themselves is “what’s next?” A good question that they’ll have to answer correctly if they want to keep on growing.