Indians want music but for FREE

How do Indians consume music and what is the state of the revenues. IFPI-IMI Digital Music Report answers all this plus TikTok being the bigger threat for audio streaming giants

Indain Digital Music Study

“Without music, life would be a mistake” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

The above quote is true for Indians. According to the IFPI-IMI Digital Music Report 2019 – 80% surveyed respondents deemed themselves as “music fanatics” (music meant everything and is one of the most important things in their lives). Higher than the global average which is 54%. The category is owned by the 16-14 age group users. On an average internet user in India is listening 19 hours of music each week – over two and a half hours of music daily. 

The report was conducted across 9 geographical locations in India. The study comprised 3000 internet users aged between 16-64. Globally, 34000 internet users were surveyed.

Before we take a deep dive on the various insights, here is how India consumes music:

India Digital Music 2019

Radio engagement is high

86% of surveyed respondents used radio (live or on demand) to consumer music. Consumption is higher on the age group 35-44. The average user in India spends an average of 2.4 hours per week listening to music on the radio.

The change in consumption is driven by convenience (41%) being the most important consideration, followed by wide selection of music/stations (39%). However the preference for radio as a medium of music consumption stemmed from it being a free source. 

Radio’s recent development of content delivery through the internet, has made online non-interactive radio platforms the second most common form of radio intake followed by on-demand/catch up radio. This has provided the radio industry with monetization opportunities. 

Audio streaming

Audio streaming has shown significant user engagement year-on-year growth in India. Average time spent on audio and video streaming per week was 4.5 hours and 5.3 hours respectively. The growth has been across all age-groups, leading to engagement rates of 97% (16-24) and 78% (45-54).

Services such as Gaana, JioSaavan, and Spotify were among the top audio streaming service for music listeners.

Spotify is the most used streaming platform for listeners aged 16-24 as they are more brand conscious and have the highest engagement with international music. YouTube remains to be the platform for oldies.

Surveyed users (55%) opted to pay for audio for the convenience which included the overall appeal of the service and the ability to remove the advertisements. Interestingly, 18% of these respondents said that they paid because it was “easier than piracy”, this was the highest proportion across all 21 countries, with the exception of Russia. 

Indian’s love video music streaming

Time spent on video streaming services accounted for 28% of the average user’s total listening time in India. Bollywood music still drives the most engagement and listeners prefer to consume music accompanied with the video. Hence services like YouTube is preferred over audio streaming platforms like Gaana, JioSaavan, etc.

94% of respondents used YouTube, 31% of users also noted the use of Dailymotion, implying a considerable reliance on other video streaming services.

YouTube has been the preferred source for its free music and wide availability of music, particularly new and popular content. 

Where is the money?

Streaming revenue showed a 30.9% growth and was the main contributor and accounted for 70% of overall revenue. Subscription revenues grew by 33% – video streaming revenues were 26% of total streaming. 

Indian Music Industry Revenues 2019

But a higher engagement definitely doesn’t mean high returns. For instance in India audio streaming comprised 39% of time spent listening to music across all formats but returned 71% of the share of revenues generated. Radio responsible for 21% of listening time but share of just 3% revenues from the three music listening methods.

Music listening vs revenues

The state of subscription model isn’t ripe yet. 51% respondents preferred to use YouTube as anything they wanted to listen was available and it is free.

YouTube is the preferred streaming service across age-groups and also the main inhibitor stopping users from paying premium subscriptions.

Other reasons cited included – expensive pricing and lack of awareness of features provided by paid services. 45-64 age group still not comfortable with the idea of audio streaming and instead rely on using the radio for music. 

TikTok – new age music platform

Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram were the preferred music focused social networks but TikTok is the new kid popular among all age groups. 51% in the age group of 25-34 respondents preferred listening to music or watching music videos on TikTok. India also exhibited the highest engagement on TikTok globally, excluding China.

TikTok Music Engagement

TikTok, which actually overtook Facebook as the most downloaded social networking app globally in the first quarter of 2019, at 188 million, with India accounting for 47% of them is also a big threat to the audio streaming giants in the country.

Social media apps are an additional source of music listening for users but it also creates an emerging form of copyright infringement. Piracy levels in Indian music industry are sky high (67%) – more than the global average of 27%.

Indian Music Piracy

Social media apps that actively facilitate user-generated content to be read as TikTok are indulging in copyright infringement by marking available to their users unlicensed sound recording owned by record labels. High time that safe harbour provisions need to be re-looked in India. 

To summarise the report highlights two interesting insights – Radio is growing and TikTok with YouTube the bigger threats for audio streaming giants in the country. 

Indians definitely love music but the incentives for opting for a paid subscriptions are not enough. YouTube is a larger threat but the features of paid subscriptions needs to be nailed hard enough. Features like uninterrupted music, offline listening without data charges, premium quality music and affordable pricing needs to be told in a personalised manner to a larger audience – says yours truly (a paid audio subscriber).