MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Spotify, the world's most popular paid music-streaming service, has made its debut in India, heating up competition for Tencent Holdings-backed Gaana and Apple Music in the South Asian nation's crowded music-streaming market.
"The mobile internet revolution has led to a rapid rise in the number of connected Indians, making music streaming the preferred way to enjoy the music here," Amarjit Singh Batra, managing director of Spotify India, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Swedish company is offering free music on its app supported by advertisements, while a premium ad-free service is offered at 119 rupees ($1.67) fee a month. The company in January struck a partnership with Indian music publishing label T-Series, which claims to have a catalog of 160,000 songs.
The launch comes as India's music-streaming market draws the attention of many global players, including Apple, e-commerce giant Amazon, and China's Tencent Holdings. Apple launched its music-streaming services in India in 2015. Last year, Amazon offered its Prime Music in India at no extra cost to members of its Prime program.
Amazon's announcement followed close on the heels of a $115 million investment by Tencent and Indian firm Times Internet in Gaana, a major music-streaming app and competitor to local rival JioSaavn, owned by Reliance Industries. Gaana was founded by Times Internet, a unit of Times Group, which publishes the Times of India newspaper.
Music- and video-streaming have been gaining ground in India over the past few years as high-speed internet becomes ubiquitous and adoption of smartphones gathers pace. With more than 400 million users, India is already the largest smartphone market in the world after China. Sales of smartphones have been driven by the availability of high-speed internet services at inexpensive tariffs after billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm shook up India's wireless market with cut-rate prices.
In a bid to significantly expand digital content offered by its wireless venture and lift demand for data, Jio last year purchased a stake in Indian music streaming service Saavn.
Spotify's efforts to make money through subscriptions may hit a wall with the competition in India, analysts say.
"It is difficult to see how they will make India an attractive opportunity. They are very late to the party," said Satish Meena, an analyst with Forrester Research. "The space is even smaller when it comes to paid subscription. A lot of people still don't want to spend on ad-free model for music."
According to Forrester, Gaana tops India's music-streaming market with 80 million users.
--Dhanya Ann Thoppil