Yesterday was the second day of the All About Music conference in Mumbai, exploring various facets of the music industry’s development in India. Among the speakers was Jesse Gillette, SVP of business development at Smule, one of the longest-established social-music apps companies. The session yielded some interesting stats on its scale in India.
Smule has 40 million users globally, and around 7-8 million of them are in India (so up to 20% of the total). Apparently, those users in India are averaging 57 minutes a day using Smule’s apps – which include its lead app Smule (formerly ‘Sing! Karaoke’ before it was rebranded in 2018). That daily engagement time is three times what it is in the US, according to Smule.
Smule’s popularity in India pales next to that of the newer social-music phenomenon, TikTok, which has 120 million monthly active users in that country alone. But the growth for both perhaps shows something important about the Indian music market. While rightsholders have been worrying about when (or even whether) paid streaming subscriptions will take off there, the path to greater revenues may well look a bit more like China, where karaoke and social apps account for the majority of Tencent Music’s business.
On a global level, yesterday’s comments did raise one question about Smule’s business. When it rebranded its flagship app in July 2018, the company had 50 million monthly active users. Just over a year later, the official figure appears to be 40 million. Losing 20% of your active users in 13 months might seem like a worrying development. That said, if Smule has managed to grow its paying subscribers well (it had two million in July 2018 but no new figure was provided yesterday) this might be a more positive story about better conversion rates.