Spotify is restricting free features in India to attract paid users. Years after the streaming service launched in India in 2019, these limits will prevent users from playing songs manually or rewinding, skipping, or repeating them.
The Swedish company has offered a generous free tier in India to let users play songs in any order since its launch. It said it is changing the free tier because the market has matured. Musically noted that the new free tier resembles Spotify’s Brazilian one.
Spotify says India is one of its top five countries for monthly active users. Since most Indian users use the ad-supported model, it doesn’t rank high in subscribers to free users ratio.
In India, the company is launching Smart Shuffle, which suggests songs based on your taste and current playlist. Subscribers got the feature in March to help them suggest songs for playlists.
This is a good sign, and the market will shift toward subscriptions, an industry executive told .
However, it remains to be seen if Spotify’s restrictions will force users to pay or switch services, the executive said.
This direction has seen some moves. Tencent-backed Gaana went paid-only last year. Resso, owned by ByteDance, discontinued its free tier in India, Brazil, and Indonesia this year. Resso was discontinued in Brazil and Indonesia after ByteDance launched TikTok Music in July. India banned TikTok and other Chinese apps in 2020.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reports that India is not among the top 10 subscription markets. The Indian Music Industry, a nonprofit with music labels as members, found that digital piracy in India is 73%, well above the global average of 30%.
In April, Redseer reported that Spotify had the most streams in India. More than 450 million Americans use YouTube, which was excluded from the study.
The June quarter saw 220 million Spotify subscribers, up 17% year-over-year. The company raised U.S. prices from $9.99 to $10.99 for the first time.