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Spotify imposes restrictions on its free tier in India to attract more paying users

Spotify is restricting features for free tier users in India in a bid to attract more paying users to the country. These limits, which come years after the streaming service launched in India in 2019, will not allow users to play songs in manual order and will not allow them to rewind, skip or repeat songs.

Since its launch, the Swedish company has offered a free and liberal tier in India to allow users to listen to songs in any order. However, he said that since the market has matured, he is taking steps to change the free tier. As Musically noted, the new free tier is closer to what Spotify offers in Brazil.

Spotify restricts its free offer in India

Image credits: Spotify

Spotify said India was one of the top five countries in terms of monthly active users for the service. However, it is not among the top markets in terms of subscriber to free user ratio, given that the majority of users in India opt for the ad-supported model.

The company is also launching Smart Shuffle in India, which automatically suggests songs based on your taste and the song/playlist you are listening to. The feature was launched for subscribers in March, to help them provide better suggestions for adding songs to a particular playlist.

Spotify locks free tier in India

Image credits: Spotify

An industry executive told TechCrunch that this is a positive development and that we will see the market move towards a subscription model.

“However, it remains to be seen whether Spotify’s restrictions could push users to pay for the service or simply use another service,” the official said.

Several initiatives have already been taken in this direction. Last year, Tencent-backed Gaana opted for a fee-only model. Earlier this year, ByteDance-owned Resso removed its free tier in India, Brazil and Indonesia. In July, ByteDance launched TikTok Music in Brazil and Indonesia, with Resso now discontinued in those markets. TikTok was notably banned in India as well as many Chinese applications in 2020.

India is not among the top 10 markets in terms of subscriptions, according to a report by the music industry body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Additionally, according to a survey by the Indian Music Industry, a non-profit organization of which music labels are members, the digital piracy rate in India (73%) is much higher than the global average of 30%.

A report by analytics firm Redseer released in April noted that Spotify was the top player in terms of number of streams in India. The study, however, excludes YouTube, which has more than 450 million users in the country.

Spotify recorded 220 million subscribers for the quarter ending in June, with growth of 17% year-over-year. The company also increased its prices in the United States for the first time, from $9.99 to $10.99.


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