YouTube is already the most popular music-streaming service in India by some distance, thanks to 245 million active users for its main service there (a number from last August) and a huge catalogue of film-music videos.
That’s why Indian music company T-Series is neck and neck with gamer PewDiePie in the race to be YouTube’s most-subscribed-to channel globally, and also why artists like Neha Kakkar, Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu are fixtures at the top of YouTube’s global music-artists chart – they’re one, two and three at the time of writing with 631m collective views in the last week alone.
Can YouTube turn this popularity into a thriving subscriptions business in India, though? We’re going to find out: YouTube Music launched in India yesterday, including its ad-supported free tier, but also its YouTube Music Premium subscription tier. The latter will cost 99 rupees a month – undercutting Spotify, which launched in India recently, by 20 rupees. People in India will also be able to pay 129 rupees a month for the wider YouTube Premium tier, including a music subscription.
There are an estimated 150 million people in India listening to audio-streaming music services, although the conversion rate to premium subscriptions is thought to be just 1%. With the Indian music industry keen to follow China’s example in breaking into the top 10 recorded-music markets globally, signing up more paying music subscribers is a key goal. YouTube’s scale in India means that even a small conversion rate could have a significant impact: if just 1% of its Indian users started paying for YouTube Music, that’s nearly 2.5 million new subscribers.
We’ll see how that goes. While the Indian launch is understandably the focus of attention, also note that YouTube Music expanded into a host of other countries, including South Africa – almost as crowded as India when it comes to global music-streaming services competing with local players – and a number of countries in south and central America. Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Uruguay, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Bolivia all now have YouTube Music and YouTube Premium available, taking YouTube Music’s footprint to 43 countries.