All eyes are on India as Spotify, YouTube Music and, now, Facebook arm themselves for battle over the country’s nascent on-demand music market.
Alongside existing deals with the major music companies, Facebook this week revealed it had struck content arrangements with Zee Music Company, Yash Raj Films and Bollywood powerhouse T-Series Music, India’s largest domestic record company, as part of an almighty push in the world’s second most populous market.
Those content providers have licensed music for use on Facebook-hosted videos, messages and “stories” and across its Instagram platform. At the same time, Facebook signed licensing deals with rightsholders in Thailand, meaning the social giant now has arrangements in place in 40 countries around the globe, including Australia and New Zealand.
Commenting on the new partnerships, Anjali Southward, Facebook’s director international music publishing, told Billboard: “When it comes to India and Thailand we see in those countries such strong user growth and we know that it’s a vibrant music market, so we want those users to be able to feel like they have access to the music that matters to them in their communities.”
Indian music fans now have a ridiculous amount of choice at their fingertips. Spotify opened for business late last month, ahead of Google’s announcement earlier this week that YouTube Music (which comes with an ad-supported “free” tier), YouTube Music Premium (at 99 rupees per month, or $2), and YouTube Premium (129 rupees per month) were now live in India. Local streamers Gaana and JioSaavn have been operating in India for years, and global brands Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music got in early.
With a massive, growing population set to eclipse that of China in the next five years, the availability of cheap data and a surging market for cellphones, India is a no-brainer for the power-players at Google. Video is king in India and, according to a Nielsen report published last year, YouTube is the country’s leading platform for streaming music.
More than 400 million Indians are said to be connected to the Internet, and many more are coming online.