Spotfiy’s detractors might delight in the fact that in India, the global market leader is in the position of an upstart, with a fraction of the customer base of local rivals such as Gaana and JioSaavn, both of which claim over 150 million monthly active users.

Yet, in the 20 months it has been around, Spotify’s growth has been impressive. While the service, which launched in India at the end of February 2019, has shared no official figures for the country since it announced it had reached more than two million monthly active users in April 2019, industry insiders say that number had risen to between 12 and 15 million by the third quarter of 2020.

That six-fold to seven-fold increase is corroborated by the surge in the streams on the platform. In the last week of March 2019, Spotify India’s top 200 tracks tallied 13.4m streams. In the last week of March 2020, the corresponding total was 51.1m, and this grew to 66.6m in the last week of September, and then 93.8m at the end of November.

The answer as to what fuelled this growth can be discerned to an extent by a close look at its year-end charts, longer versions of which have been exclusively shared with Music Ally.

Spotify is expanding its audience across India

As many as eight of the 10 most streamed songs of 2020 on Spotify India were from Bollywood soundtracks, while six of the 10 most played albums were by international acts. A Spotify spokesperson told us that in any given week, the split between streams for domestic and foreign repertoire is more or less even.

This contrasts with homegrown competitors like Gaana, for which Indian film and pop music in Hindi and regional languages accounts for 85% of listenership.

However, the domination of local acts in Spotify India’s most streamed acts for the year – BTS and Justin Bieber are the only international names in the top ten – indicates a growing pan-Indian presence and the acquisition of customers around the nation, especially in the south.

Telugu and Tamil are two of the fastest growing regional languages on the app, the spokesperson said. Top Hits Telugu was No.10 on the survey of playlists with the largest year-on-year increase in followers in 2020, thanks in part to a television ad campaign starring popular Telugu film star Nagarjuna.

Spotify is the home of K-Pop in India

K-Pop is consumed far more on Spotify than on other global platforms such as Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music. Among the reasons for this: unlike those paid services, Spotify is also available for free; BTS gave the service a shoutout in a video clip at the time of its launch in India; and because Spotify publishes the counts for the tracks that appear on its daily and weekly charts, it gives the genre’s fan communities actionable goals to achieve for their idols.

Case in point: BTS broke the record for the most streams for a song in any given week on Spotify India twice this year, first in August with over 2.42m plays for ‘Dynamite’ and then in November with over 2.75m plays for ‘Life Goes On’.

BTS was the only act to have two releases in the top ten albums of 2020 and even though its newest effort ‘BE’ was out for just a week during Spotify’s year-end tracking period (Wrapped 2020 data covers streams from 1 January to 27 November), it was the eighteenth most streamed LP, one notch above Blackpink’s The Album.

It’s taking on Apple Music as an Indian independent music hub

Up until the launch of Spotify, Apple Music was not just the streaming service of choice of many international music listeners in India but also fans of Indian independent music.

Apple Music continues to champion Indian indie primarily though week-long exclusive releases that are given prominent placement on its carousel and playlists. Spotify too has been focusing on the niche segment and it’s paying off.

The followers for the Indian avatar of its flagship ‘Radar’ playlist, previously called ‘Early Noise’, grew more than 500% from 2019 to 2020, the highest year-on-year increase of all. Also impressive was the follower growth for ‘Indie India’, which rose from being among the top 40% of all playlists last year to among the top 10% this year.

At the forefront of this swell are artists such as electronic music producer-singer Ritviz, who was the thirty-seventh most streamed act on the service in 2020 and whose track ‘Liggi’ was number 12 for the year, higher than any “non-film” or commercial pop track put out on a major label.

Spotify India: most streamed songs of 2020

1 ‘Shayad’ (from ‘Love Aaj Kal’), Arijit Singh, Pritam and Irshad Kamil
2 ‘Falling’ , Trevor Daniel
3 ‘Ghungroo’ (from ‘War’), Arijit Singh, Shilpa Rao, Kumaar and Vishal-Shekhar
4 ‘Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage Hum’ (from ‘Kabir Singh’), Arijit Singh and Mithoon
5 ‘Makhna’ (from ‘Drive’), Asees Kaur, Tanishk Bagchi, Yasser Desai and Ozil Dalal
6 ‘Illegal Weapon 2’ (from ‘Street Dancer 3D’), Garry Sandhu, Jasmine Sandlas, Intense and Priya Sairaya
7 ‘Blinding Lights’, The Weekend
8 ‘Garmi’ (from ‘Street Dancer 3D’), Badshah and Neha Kakkar
9 ‘Tu Hi Yaar Mera’ (from ‘Pati, Patni Aur Woh’), Arijit Singh, Neha Kakkar, Rochak Kohli and Kumaar
10 ‘Malang’ (from ‘Malang’), Ved Sharma, Kunaal Vermaa and Haarsh Limbachiyaa

Spotify India: most streamed albums of 2020

1 ‘Kabir Singh’, Soundtrack
2 ‘Love Aaj Kal’, Soundtrack
3 ‘Map Of The Soul: 7’, BTS
4 ‘Broken Strings’, Arijit Singh
5 ‘Changes’, Justin Bieber
6 ‘Love Yourself: Answer’, BTS
7 ‘After Hours’, The Weeknd
8 ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’, Post Malone
9 ‘GOAT’, Diljit Dosanjh
10 ‘Romance’, Camila Cabello

Spotify India: most streamed artists of 2020

1 Arijit Singh
2 Tanishk Bagchi
3 Neha Kakkar
4 Pritam
6 Badshah
7 Shreya Ghoshal
8 A.R. Rahman
9 Jubin Nautiyal
10 Justin Bieber

Spotify India: playlists’ 2020 growth in followers

1 ‘Radar India’ 500%
2 ‘Bollywood Dance Music’ 340%
3 ‘Top Hits Hindi’ 240%
4 ‘Hot Hits India’ 230%
5 ‘Indie India’ 180%
6 ‘New Music Punjabi’ 170%
7 ‘Punjabi 101’ 150%
8 ‘New Music Hindi’ 150%
9 ‘Bollywood Butter’ 130%
10 ‘Top Hits Telugu’ 120%

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