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The Music Industry Is Swinging To the Rhythm Of Mobile Apps It's the mobile apps that have not just been conduits for music but also the meaningful triggers for converting listeners into fully-paid subscribers

By Viral Jani

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Music has never been easier to access, but it's not just accessibility that has upended the music industry. It's the mobile apps that have not just been conduits for music but also the meaningful triggers for converting listeners into fully-paid subscribers—a great example of technology driving monetization.

It's worthwhile to observe that this massive music-app revolution is emanating out of a crater-sized impact that the mobile apps have had on the global economy lately. According to an App Annie report, the global app economy is forecasted to grow to $6.3 trillion in 2021 from $1.3 trillion in 2016. Users already spend well over two hours a day on apps. It's evident that one cannot ignore apps as industry drivers—from news alerts to cricket scores and shopping to ordering food, there's little that's out of their purview.


This is just one of the great changes effected by apps. They have also catalyzed the end of passive listening; users today are involved and expect not just a wide array of music library on-offer, but also a deeply personalized experience delivered to them through recommendations and playlists.

Music apps are no exception as they've created a new business avenue, sparking off an across-the-board transformation of how platforms engage with their consumer base. These music streaming apps also make it easier for artists to record and distribute music, adding a layer of democratization to the industry.

Here are some other ways apps have benefited the music industry: deeper connection with listeners, greater visibility, richer social media engagement, recurring revenue through subscriptions and lower costs.

Data driver

At a global level, the traditional music industry needed to adapt to this new paradigm, and it found that data was its secret ingredient to success. The colossal amount of data generated through the usage of apps allows music companies and artists to better profile customers and serve them the content they seek. The improvements based on app insights—specifically what music is being heard by you, when and where, for example—mean longer user engagement, greater loyalty and fulfilling the demands of every niche segment.

Global music-streaming giants including Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, and Soundcloud, have all harnessed the power of data to target users not only on the basis of their demographics but also in line with each user's specific music taste and artist preferences.

Such a deep artist-fan connect was never possible earlier.

Community engagement

In India, music is the bridge between communities, cultures and geographies. Music is interwoven into the fabric of its history and societal landscape. India's penchant for music, married to the wonders of technology, has made the Indian music industry almost a $500 million mammoth machine (growing at a CAGR of 24 per cent). Interestingly, around 27 per cent (roughly $125 million) of it is constituted only by music apps. Unsurprisingly, a slew of global as well as homegrown music apps has swarmed the market in order to corner a chunk of this rapidly-growing, vibrantly-textured pie.

In the Indian music-app ecosystem, data is just one among many cogs in the wheel of growth and global leaders have been prudent to take a note of it. Successful global players either set up a full-stack India team or lean on local strategic advisors to create and drive the execution of an India playbook for their business. The global players collaborate with their India-adviser to provide them counsel and on-ground support on key strategic areas. This can include community engagement, cultural immersion by roping-in relevant local artists to drive multi-lingual, moment-based campaigns, adding an Indian tone to the overall brand voice and the product, enabling corporate interactions and building a formidable PR narrative in the local circles. In some cases, the Indian partner also drives widespread product distribution across customer segments and geographies and even manages the monetization goals and day-to-day business operations in India. Such a "glocal' model empowers the global music apps to navigate the incredibly diverse nature of the Indian market.

Coming back to the broader narrative, it's safe to conclude that mobile-first strategies can be clutter-breakers. It's no wonder that the music industry, once considered down and out, is now on the upswing. This was enabled by a paradigm shift in music discovery, sharing and consumption. In the coming years, music apps will enable outsized two-way engagement between the user and the creator and will connect like-minded users through close-knitted digital communities, across geographies.

Viral Jani

SVP, Times Bridge

Viral Jani has been the driving force behind several challenging projects in Consumer Tech, Television Broadcasting, Digital, Social Media and Media Planning. Armed with more than 15 years of experience in media and technology, Viral today is playing a key role in spearheading Investment Operations at Times Bridge. Viral is based in Mumbai and overlooks success of Times Bridge’s rising investment portfolio in India through an innovation network of partner companies spread across the country. Time Bridge’s portfolio includes Uber, Airbnb, Coursera, Houzz, MUBI, Thrive, Vice, Business Insider, The Weather Channel and others.
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