After much ado, Spotify is finally in India. The app is beautiful and allows you to stream music for free. Of course, you get more out of it if you pay. But one thing is missing.Sohini Mitter
Spotify needs no introduction. It is, after all, the world’s largest audio-streaming service that is devoured and celebrated for its rich collection of music, podcasts, talk shows, and more. After accumulating 207 million users worldwide, the Swedish music service debuted in India last week.
And, India’s netizens couldn’t contain their excitement. From sharing screenshots and song links to cross-posting on Instagram, they ensured that #SpotifyIndia trended for hours together. Interestingly, the buzz wasn’t limited to just social media. It translated into something more measurable.
Spotify announced that it had racked up over a million listeners from India in less than a week. These include both free and premium users. It is currently the #3 app in the ‘Music and Audio’ category of Google Play Store in India (JioSaavn is #1 and that might have to to do with Jio’s 280 million users). The app counts 100-million-plus Android downloads globally and has a user rating of 4.6 out of 5.
Available on mobile, desktop, and tablet, the app can also be used on a wide range of speakers and home devices, including PlayStation, Chromecast, and Smart TVs. Car sync and Google Maps integration is available too. Users can choose from over 40 million songs and 3 billion playlists across Indian and international music.
To Indianise its offering, Spotify has rolled out city-based playlists (algorithms tracking what’s trending in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai) and multi-language recommendations (in Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu). You can select your preferred language to receive curated playlists and recommendations.
Let’s dig into the app now.
You can sign up for free with an email id or through Facebook.
Then, you select content preferences. Spotify makes available music in English and seven Indian languages.
Next, choose favourite artists. Three is a minimum, but you can choose more. This selection is important because it allows Spotify to curate a more personalised playlist for you.
Note, this is not a final selection. Artists can be added later as well.
The app then takes you to the homepage and throws up playlists tailored for your tastes. There is a Daily Mix, a ‘Popular and Trending’ section which includes Top Hits, Viral 50, Shaadi Season, Millennium Masti, etc., and more sections like ‘Recommended for You’, ‘Editor’s Picks’, and ‘New Releases’.
If you do not want Spotify recommendations, you can directly hit the Search button (next to the Home button), and browse independently. Searches are categorised by artists, songs, or podcasts.
In Podcasts, there are multiple categories to choose from. Spotify podcasts are hugely popular, and audio content from the world’s top creators is available. You can sort podcasts by date, and download and filter episodes.
The app has a visual search option too, where you can scan the unique song code from a friend’s phone and start playing it instantly on your device.
Hit the play icon to start streaming. There are options to rewind, fast forward, like, and hide each track. Every song contains an artist description too.
When you open an individual track, three dots placed vertically on the top-right of your screen throw up more options - add song to your own playlist, share it on social media or email, report for being explicit, and check artist credits.
Interestingly, Spotify puts an ‘explicit’ label on tracks in all public playlists.
You can create your own library by adding songs, albums, artists, playlists, and podcasts as you go along. There is a dedicated Library button on the menu bar.
The menu bar also provides an option to upgrade to Premium. Packs start at Rs 13 a day. For a monthly plan, you pay Rs 119. All subscription packs come with a 30-day free trial.
Spotify Premium offers a quality, ad-free listening experience, the option to download tracks and play them offline, and sync music on multiple devices. The audio quality improves 3X as well, Spotify claims.
And lastly, on the Settings tab, you can personalise the app experience further. There is a Data Saver mode that comes in handy if you’re streaming over your mobile connection. You can turn off explicit content, manage connected devices, change language, as well as alter privacy controls.
Spotify is considered to be the gold standard of audio streaming. Possibly even more than Apple Music - one of its fiercest rivals. The company not only popularised music-streaming but inculcated an all-new habit in listeners. They started paying for music content, curbing piracy.
In terms of content library, Spotify is expansive if you’re looking for international music. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it is the 'Netflix for audio'. All great content reside here. But, as an Indian listener, if you’re keen on exploring local music, then it might have a competitor in the form of Amazon Prime Music or even JioSaavn.
Some users on Twitter have already pointed out that their search for Carnatic songs, for instance, yielded no results on Spotify. Some also said that Bollywood playlists (which clock maximum listens in India) are better on JioSaavn or even YouTube (which continues to be India’s top music discovery destination).
Surely, Spotify will expand its library in India soon. There is no doubting its intent about the Indian market given its competitive pricing (cheaper than Apple Music), bite-sized subscription packs (ala Reliance Jio), student plans, and payment integrations with mobile wallets.
The app also scores in terms of audio quality and overall experience. Except for one thing - and that might annoy a lot of users. There is no loop/repeat feature in playlists, and it is a sore miss. It appears from user conversations on social media that the older version of the app had the loop option, but it went missing for those who upgraded. The sooner Spotify fixes it, the better for us.
Until then, keep changing tracks!