Apple Music has slashed its prices in India, following price cuts by local streaming services JioSaavn and Gaana. Apple Music is now being offered for 99 rupees ($1.43) a month, down from 120 rupees ($1.73) a month.
While many outlets are reporting the price cut is in direct response to Spotify and YouTube Music’s recent launches in India, this is only part of the story.
There are several India-specific streaming services that are incredibly popular within the country, like JioSaavn and Gaana. These companies are already established and have tens of millions of users. Gaana, in particular, counts 80 million users, which is about half of India’s active music streaming market.
Over two weeks ago, JioSaavn quietly offered a promotion that reduced its price, dropping its annual fee from 999 rupees ($14.44) to 299 rupees ($4.32). Many missed it because the company only advertised the discount to a portion of its user base.
At the time, a rep for JioSaavn told The Verge: “We often run various limited-time promotions based on a specific segment of our user base that we want to reach. The discount is technically available to everyone, but we only publicize it within the specific user group that it’s designed for.
In response, Gaana ran its own promotion to match JioSaavn, cutting its annual fee from 1,098 rupees ($15.87) to 299 rupees ($4.32). Both services left the pricing for monthly subscriptions untouched at 99 rupees ($1.43).
These two promotions were likely spurred by Spotify and YouTube Music’s entries into India, and now, Apple Music is doing the same. Its monthly fee now matches local player pricing and YouTube Music, and this also makes it cheaper than Spotify’s monthly plan in India, which costs 119 rupees ($1.72).
India is a market that’s been called music’s “sleeping giant,” with the world’s second-largest smartphone market and falling data rates that see millions of new people sign up for online services every month. While the customer base for streaming services in India is exponentially growing, subscription income for these services isn’t rising in tandem. Less than 1 percent of streaming music subscribers pay for a standalone subscription in India, and about 14 percent pay for music through a bundled subscription (such as Amazon Prime or via a mobile contract).
Those in India who do pay for music streaming don’t pay much in comparison to other countries, and now they’re paying even less. It appears that all of these new entrants in the country’s growing market are creating a race to the bottom in an effort to establish India’s new pecking order in streaming music.