Storytelling is intrinsic to India: Amarjit Batra of Spotify
Following their global audio - first strategy, audio streaming service, Spotify has announced its first three original podcasts for India with the first one being ‘22 Yarns with Gaurav Kapur’ which focuses on cricket, next is ‘Bhaskar Bose’ which is a fiction thriller narrated by Mantra and the third being ‘Love Aaj Kal’ by Aastha and Ankit who give love and relationship advice. All the 3 podcasts are scheduled to go live on December 3,2019 on Spotify.
This launch creates great opportunity for Indian creators to work with the company to create and deliver content in different audio formats. Spotify also aims to offer better discovery, data and monetization to podcast creators.
“Storytelling is intrinsic to India, and almost nostalgic because most of us have grown up listening to stories that our grandparents and parents told us; Spotify wants to re-establish that listening culture, especially as users seek more screen-free moments. We are thrilled to partner with these talented storytellers who’ve managed to explore different aspects of the local culture to deliver differentiated content and rekindle the love Indians have for audio,” says Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director - India, Spotify.
Since the time Spotify entered the Indian market in February this year, the platform has kept a strong focus on curating local playlists and content for listeners. Globally the platform has about 5,00,000 podcast titles with a exponential growth in streaming hours by almost 39% from Q2 2019 to Q3 2019. A majority of this growth reportedly comes from outside the US.
This creates a great opportunity for advertisers as Spotify’s research says that 50% of podcast listeners say, ads are more relevant, seamless, or entertaining than typical ads, making it a relevant communication platform.
Talking about the benefits for advertisers and marketers, Batra says “As per the global legacy and work Spotify has done, we’re trying to continue that in India. In the last 9 months we’ve taken amazing steps to make Spotify as relevant in India. Through our studies, we’ve found out that we’re one of the most loved brands in the country in this space. That itself means that for advertisers, if they want to engage with the millennials or the Gen Z, the best platform for them will be Spotify. Our long term goal is to redefine audio streaming, we want to make sure everybody who has an access to the mobile phone, can access Spotify. Brands like Adidas and Netflix, who are the early adopters of advertising on our platform, have created a differentiated brand for themselves in their space from the other brands as they adopted this new way first. Spotify will continue to introduce innovative ways for brands to engage with their audiences.”
Spotify offers its services both in an AVOD or SVOD format. Explaining the what is working better for them globally, Batra says “Globally the break up is quite high. Globally 57% is free while 43% is paid.”
Spotify Lite is another version of the app the platform offers. While still being similar to the main app, Spotify Lite is still different as it covers lesser space on your device and also uses lesser data. Users can also track their data usage through it. Spotify Lite was first tested in India and is focused more for users of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. Suprisingly enough, Batra says “Funnily, we’re seeing some traction from metropolitan cities too for Spotify Lite.”
Talking about the podcasts originals, Batra says “We are creating original podcasts with the aim of driving the growth of local podcasts in the nation. People still haven’t discovered the potential of podcasts in Hindi or other regional languages. We are partnering with creators to create such podcasts as they still don’t exist in abundance in the country.” Batra further mentions, “When it comes to revenue, Podcasts will be sponsored and brands can take it up according to the content of the podcast and the TG they want to reach out to. The final aim is to open the podcast ecosystem for more and more creators and make people understand the power of podcasts.”
Spotify is creating great opportunity for brands when it comes to advertising and for creators when it comes to the opportunity of creating good content. However banking on Podcasts is still a dicey game as people in India still haven’t taken up podcasts in full swing as a form of entertainment. The audience is still very niche. While podcasts lack in mass appeal, whether Spotify’s attempts to open up the podcast market will be successful or not is still to be seen.