In conversation with Media Samosa, Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana shares insightful data on the content consumption trends in the OTT audio streaming space and Gaana’s gameplan for sustenance.
After crossing 150 Mn monthly active users mark in December 2019, according to the OTT Audience Measurement Insights, Gaana has now emerged as the biggest music streaming platform in India with control of over 30% of the market in January 2020. The app is banking big on its diverse music library, personalized listener experience and has recently unveiled two key features to cater to evolving consumer demand – Gaana Video and Artist Dashboard.
We get talking to Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana to know more about the homegrown music streaming space and how international entries like Apple Music and Spotify have impacted the players back home.
Of late India has emerged to be one of the crowded markets in the music streaming industry. How is Gaana upping the ante and standing out?
India is a large market with a billion-plus population and can comfortably accommodate a bunch of music streaming apps. Gaana has the first-mover advantage in the market with strong brand recall and the largest market share in the music streaming space. Our understanding of the Indian user / his music tastes, as well as our, understanding of the various music trends in different languages across the country, is what makes us stand out and shine.
How has the Indian music streaming category evolved with time taking into consideration the number of players emerging?
The country’s music streaming space has evolved significantly in terms of content consumption and tech innovation.
On the content consumption side, regional music now contributes to 35% of the overall consumption on our platform, led by Punjabi music at 15%.
On the tech front, the most remarkable innovation is in widespread Voice Search adoption and cutting-edge tech like AI and Machine learning that now help us offer a more personalized music experience.
How has the growth of Gaana like? (Kindly specify growth in percentage)? Also the market share.
Gaana was launched in April 2010, and we have steadily gained momentum over the past decade and today we have more than 150 Mn monthly active users.
Over the last 2 years, cutting edge innovation on the product with regard to music recommendation, tweaking the app experience to suit millennials as well as a semi-urban population who may be first-time users along with a curated content library has helped us gain rapid traction.
What has been the impact of international launches in India like ‘Spotify’ and ‘YouTube Music’? Any long term implications that you foresee?
We believe there are going to be significant positive long term implications of the ongoing hyper-competitive business environment. For instance, the investment in educating customers on the benefits of music streaming as a whole is multifold and that is increasing the size of the overall pie for each music app.
What is Gaana’s content mix like and what kind of content works. Please share some consumer usage trends?
The biggest trend in the Indian OTT audio streaming on our platform has been the rise of regional music’s share in the music consumption habits of most Indians, with Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam ruling the charts. Regional music consumption on our platform has registered more than 25X growth in the last 2.5 years. This has led us to believe that a deep understanding of the Indian music lover’s regional music tastes is key to securing a considerable market share in our country’s audio OTT market.
There is a popular notion that Indian consumers shy away from content behind a paywall. So, do you think India is finally ready to pay and is finding value in the subscription?
Our paid subscriptions is a single-digit percentage of our overall user-base, but it has grown by more than 3X since last year. We believe the market will grow to around 500 – 600 million users in the next 3 years.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in this sector?
Over the next 5 years, we envision 50% of India’s population to benefit from the growth of music streaming and on-demand seamless access to music of their choice. However, this can only be achieved with consistent investments in emerging technologies like AI and Machine Learning at an unprecedented scale to deliver the most intuitive digital music experience ever.
The biggest challenge for the audio streaming industry is that ‘music streaming’ is yet to become a part of the more ‘mainstream’ media plans. However, as the scale and influence of the audio OTT sector grows, more brands are likely to open up to our huge inventory of audio ads.
What does digital audio offer vs the analog audio format?
The convenience of having hundreds of millions of HD music tracks on a nifty app at the touch of a button is the biggest reason for most modern Indian consumers to shift to digital from analog.
Your views on original content and building non-music IPs?
We believe that originals & podcasts have the potential to be among the most popular mainstream non-music genres on streaming platforms across India. They also offer brands a great channel to tap into a highly engaged niche audience as modern savvy marketers are starting to realise the difference between top-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns, and are starting to appreciate the role for the top-of-mind recall.
Also, is Programmatic Audio having its moment in India?
There are a few players emerging in the Programmatic audio space, but it’s still an early stage.
How creative agencies play an important part in making digital audio a success?
Digital audio ads are a new format and need evangelization with the Advertisers at large and creative agencies can help educate the market on the benefits of this medium. Key benefits being hyper-local targeting, demographic targeting as well as audio cta.
What’s next for the digital audio and streaming sector audio? What are your predictions for future trends?
We believe the market will grow to 400 Mn monthly active users in the next 2 years with regional and indie music scenes being the biggest beneficiaries.
Thanks to streaming platforms like us, the music you like come to you organically and this in turn benefits upcoming musicians as every genre from Punjabi Folk to Indie Rock has an audience now.