India's Streaming Market Continues to Heat Up

Marka/UIG via Getty Images
Udaipur, India.

The world's second-most populous nation is hopping on the Internet at rocket speed.

Two developments today point to the rapid maturation of India's music streaming industry -- one an investment and bundling partnership, the other a curatorial play from the world's most valuable company.

Gaana, with a reported 20 million active users, stands as the country's most popular streaming service. As The Times of India reports, the company has signed a partnership with Micromax, an Indian electronics manufacturer with a prodigiously large line of smartphones. The deal will see Gaana installed on all Micromax phones going forward, with a free trial to Gaana's premium service -- it also offers an ad-supported tier -- as part of the bundling. TechCrunch reports Micromax sells over 2 million phones per month. Times Internet (parent company of Gaana) CEO Satyan Gajwani said the move will bolster his plan for Gaana to reach its goal of 100 million users, something Spotify has yet to achieve, though is quickly approaching.

Gaana's premium-only competitor, Apple Music, is also making a push in the country, though not with as significant a deal, perhaps. Apple's new streaming service has announced its first India-based curator: MTV India. Even a short perusal of Apple Music makes the service's editorial focus abundantly clear, with recommended playlists and its popular Beats 1 digital radio station taking center stage. Apple has local curators placed in most of the 100+ markets Apple Music has launched in, a massively important feature for streaming services in countries like India -- and Germany, and Japan (two of the world's biggest music markets).

As Rdio recognized when it acquired Dinghana last year before relaunching it under the flagship this past January, India is one of the world's most-promising emerging markets. Rdio CEO Anthony Bay called it "the fastest-growing Internet market in the world, with one of the most vibrant cultures for music." The country is promising for technology companies precisely because adoption is so low, with less than one-in-five people having access to the Internet. Despite that it ranks as No. 3 on the list of countries (behind China and the U.S.) with the most web users according to Internet Live Stats, making the growth potential enormous. That services such as Rdio have to charge so much less pales in comparison to the potential of scale; if India had the same level of web access as the U.S., it would have over a billion people online.

That's a lot.