Spotify restricts free user features in India as it looks to gain premium user base

Spotify is making a renewed attempt to increase the number of its paid users in India, and a rather aggressive one at that. Instead of rolling out new incentives and features to persuade users to empty their pockets, Spotify is introducing limitations on the features available to free-tier users in the world’s second-largest internet market.

Starting today, October 9, 2023, Spotify’s free-tier users in India will face several restrictions and will be unable to access several features. These include the ability to repeat songs on Spotify’s platform, letting them skip to specific parts of songs, as well as the ability to rearrange the order of streamed songs. Furthermore, if users are not paying to access the premium tier, they will be unable to disable Spotify’s Smart Shuffle setting.

Spotify users in India have been sent a pop-up alert by the company that notifies them of the changes. Spotify’s shift is not unique in India’s music streaming landscape. Local competitors Gaana and Resso have already transitioned to subscription-only models in recent times. ByteDance, the owner of Resso, even launched TikTok Music in Brazil and Indonesia, discontinuing Resso in those markets.

Spotify initially offered a liberal free tier in India, allowing users to play songs in any order. That was back in 2019, and India now ranks among Spotify’s top five countries in terms of monthly active users. However, it falls behind in the ratio of subscribers to free users, as many users in India opt for the ad-supported model. This is unsurprising, considering that India poses unique challenges for music streaming platforms due to a high digital piracy rate of 73%, which is well above the global average of 30%. While Spotify aims to increase its premium subscriber base, it faces the task of convincing users to transition from free services to paid ones.

The primary objective of these feature restrictions is simple: to drive free-tier users toward paid subscriptions. By limiting the convenience and control offered to free users, Spotify aims to encourage them to upgrade to premium plans, thereby increasing its revenue in the Indian market. However, it remains to be seen whether this move actually works, and t is likely to have a negative impact as well. In that case, free-tier users are more than likely to explore alternative music streaming services that offer a more comprehensive free experience.

Coming to the cost of Spotify’s plans, the company’s monthly individual subscription in India costs ₹119 (approximately $1.45), which is significantly lower than the $10.99 monthly fee in the United States. The platform also offers mobile-only subscription plans in India for as little as ₹7 ($0.0085) per day. If you are a free user, then you can continue listening to your favourite artists, albums and playlists even after the recent restrictions. Spotify also plans to intensify its marketing partnerships and enhance premium user experiences to drive conversions. These partnerships include collaborations with e-commerce companies like Flipkart and smartphone manufacturers such as OnePlus, offering free premium memberships to their customers.

Originally posted 2023-10-09 17:25:04.