Image Credit: Spotify

After nearly five years of operation in India, Spotify is implementing new restrictions for its free users in the country.

As of October 9th, 2023, free users in India will see new limitations that affect their music streaming experience.

Spotify locks certain features behind a paywall for free users in India

The changes Spotify is implementing include the removal of the repeat function, the ability to skip back to specific parts of songs, re-arrange the streaming order, and disable Spotify’s ‘smart shuffle’ setting.

As a result, Spotify’s free tier in India is more in line with the offerings available in Brazil. Spotify is employing in-app messages informing free users about the restrictions and the reasons behind them.

Spotify is employing in-app messages informing free users in India about the free tier restrictions and the reasons behind them.
Spotify India’s in-app message referring to listening restrictions to users. Image Credit: Music Ally

Nevertheless, Spotify India has experienced significant growth over the past four and a half years as India now ranks among Spotify’s top five countires with active monthly users. On the other hand, India is not yet one of Spotify’s highest-earning regions, despite how its conversion rate to paid subscriptions is above the local industry average.

In India, Spotify’s monthly individual subscription costs Rs119 (approximately $1.45) which is significantly lower than the $10.99 per month in the United States. Additionally, Spotify offers ‘mini’ mobile-only subscription plans in India for as little as Rs7 ($0.0085) per day.

Amarjit Singh Batra, the Managing Director of Spotify in India, emphasized that this decision is part of Spotify’s strategy to entice users away from piracy and less satisfying services, ultimately converting them to premium subscribers on Spotify.

Batra expressed confidence that these changes will not hinder Spotify’s growth in India, with the platform aiming to deepen its presence within local languages and cultures. He noted that despite these restrictions, Spotify will continue to be one of the best free music services available in the Indian market.

Spotify’s announcement comes after local competitors Gaana and Resso transitioning to subscription-only services. However, Batra stated that Spotify has no plans to increase subscription prices in India.

Instead, the company intends to bolster marketing partnerships and enhance fan experiences for premium users as a means to drive conversions. These efforts have included offering free premium memberships to customers of e-commerce companies like Flipkart and smartphone manufacturers such as OnePlus.

Batra did not directly address whether these new restrictions were a response to label pressure but acknowledged that the size of India’s music market, relative to global markets, plays a role in label investments.

India’s recorded music market ranked 14th globally in 2022, with revenues of $318.6 million, although per capita revenue remains relatively low. Spotify aims to change this by providing a platform for a broader range of Indian artists, ultimately increasing opportunities for them to succeed in the music industry.