Spotify Limits Features for Free Users in India

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Audio streaming firm Spotify is tweaking its free service in India by moving a few features behind a subscription and placing a greater emphasis on song recommendations, in a possible bid to expand its paid subscriber base in the country.

Starting October 9, free users of Spotify will not be able to play songs in any specific order within a playlist, repeat songs, go back to previous songs, or select a specific part of a song to listen to.

The company said these restrictions were introduced to make the free experience more consistent across all markets. Free users will still be able to pick and choose the songs they want to play, and there will be no restrictions on the number of hours they can stream. Users can also listen to songs again by going back to the playlist and tapping on their preferred song.

This development also comes at a time when rivals such as Gaana and and ByteDance’s Resso have pivoted to a subscription-only service over the past year. Spotify has steered clear of increasing its prices in India so far, even as it has carried out price hikes in several other markets such as the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom in recent months.

Smart Shuffle will now be the default listening mode for free users, and they will not be able to disable it. The traditional shuffle mode will become a premium feature.

First introduced in March 2023, Smart Shuffle adds Spotify’s personalised song recommendations to playlists that ‘match the vibe or mood’ of the songs already in the playlist.

At the time, Spotify said that this feature would keep users’ listening sessions fresh, thereby improving the overall experience. Users can also add or hide songs from their playlists. The feature is launching in India on October 9 and is expected to launch in other markets soon.

Spotify has witnessed significant growth in its user base in the Indian market since its foray into the country in 2019. India is among Spotify’s top five markets in terms of its user base and has been delivering “better-than-expected” monthly active user growth in recent quarters, the company said in its recent earnings reports.

However, the country is yet to contribute to Spotify’s overall revenues in a meaningful manner, a trend that is quite common among global Internet giants.

Spotify currently generates the majority of its revenue from subscriptions, which accounted for nearly 87 percent of the company’s total revenue in Q2. In India, Spotify offers plans ranging from Rs 7 per day to Rs 119 per month for individual accounts and up to Rs 179 per month for family accounts.

Source: Money Control