The music service was made available to Amazon Echo buyers late last year, and Amazon is now beefing up its local language music library before a wider rollout.
Amazon showcased its Prime Music library to Indian users who bought Echo devices late last year, and now, as it nears the official India launch of Amazon Prime Music, the Seattle-based giant has inked its first formal content partnership in the country.
As part of the deal, Zee Music will make its library of Hindi and regional songs available on Amazon Prime Music, the ad-free music-streaming service for Amazon Prime members. The service, which will be rolled out to Prime members at “no additional cost”, will have over 450 film soundtracks from Zee’s catalogue, along with 250 pieces of content from independent artists whose IPs are owned by Zee.
Zee Music was formed in 2014, and owns the music rights of films from Fox Star Studios, Excel Entertainment, UTV, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Balaji Motion Pictures, and Bhansali Productions.
The partnership will not only bolster Prime Music’s existing catalogue of Indian and international music, but will also lend a distinct Bollywood flavour, considered essential for streaming services to achieve large-scale adoption in India.
Sample this - nearly 55 percent of the music streamed in India is Bollywood tracks. In all, 25-30 percent is regional music, and the rest is English. Zee Music fits right into Amazon’s local strategy with sister labels like Zee Music Marathi, and Zee Music Bangla, etc.
“We are thrilled to partner with Zee Music to strengthen Amazon Prime Music’s catalogue for our customers. At launch, Amazon Prime Music customers can enjoy listening to all the hits and forthcoming releases from Zee Music's catalog ad-free, at no additional cost,” said Sahas Malhotra, Director, Amazon Music India.
Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of audio-streaming services in India as homegrown players like Gaana, Saavn, Wynk and Hungama have notched up loyal customers across the board. Apple Music, meanwhile, has so far catered to premium consumers.
Gaana leads the market with over 50 million monthly users — a milestone it crossed last November. In terms of downloads and installs, Gaana has crossed the 92-million mark. It was also rated as the ‘Most Entertaining App’ of 2017 on Google Play Store.
Saavn, on the other hand, crossed 20 million users in May last year. Touted as ‘India’s Spotify’ by Billboard, it is big on original programming in music, podcasts, etc. While the service focuses on the Indian market, Saavn can be accessed in 200 countries, giving it a wider geographic spread than others. It also has a catalogue of 20 million songs across 11 languages.
Wynk, owned by Airtel, recorded over 50 million downloads, and said 45 percent of its users are non-Airtel customers. Hungama too has crossed 50 million app downloads.
Prime Music is likely to find users almost immediately after its launch because the service will be bundled with other Amazon Prime benefits like online video, free deliveries, Prime shopping deals and so on.
In a price-sensitive market like India, a full-fledged music service that comes at zero extra cost is a pot of gold. All Amazon Prime members, who have paid either Rs 499 or Rs 999 (once the introductory offer ended) for a subscription can access Prime Music for 12 months.
Contrast this with an Apple Music subscription that is priced at Rs 1,200, and a Gaana yearly plan that comes at Rs 999. These are music-only offerings, while Amazon Prime as a whole is much more.
Prime Music also scores a notch above global peer Apple when it comes to regional content. Prime Video, for instance, is head and shoulders above Netflix in India because its vast library of regional language films has been able to woo the audience. With Prime Music too, the Zee partnership will keep Amazon in good stead.