Spotify could launch in India in the next 6 months, with an extended trial period, reports Variety. This comes right after Spotify launched in 13 new countries in the Middle East and North Africa – it is now present in 78 countries. In India, it will offer a trial period longer than the 30-day free trial it usually offers. It is unclear which other markets Spotify offers an extended trial period for and what its rationale behind this is.

Variety also reports that Spotify will be entering the market on its own, as plans to buy a local competitor have failed. It will be based in the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.

Rumours about Spotify’s India launch have floated through past year. CEO Daniel Ek had announced in March that the service would launch in India, without specifying a timeframe. In a stock exchange filing, Spotify noted that it had a dedicated office space in India, with 308 employees. Former OLX India CEO Amarjeet Singh Batra heads Spotify India, Akshat Harbola heads the marketing operations in Mumbai. According to LinkedIn, Vasundhara Mudgil has been the head of communications at Spotify’s Mumbai office since September.

When asked about when Spotify would launch in India in an investor call earlier this month, Ek said that “India specifically is a very fragmented marketplace, with lots of different local labels, lots of different local publishers.” He added that when the company deals with ‘licensing situations’, “it’s very hard for us to predict accurate timelines on the basis of multiple partnerships — just the sheer scale of number of partnerships makes it very hard to predict that, but there’s nothing that we see that prevents us from launching in India.”

Last week, Spotify launched in 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa — with local and international listed music, and locally curated playlists like Today’s Top Arabic its, Arabic EDM and others. It offered both free and paid subscription options in the countries.

US labels pushed back against Spotify’s India launch

In July, reports indicated that the big three American labels were holding up Spotify’s India launch over the streaming service starting to license music directly from artists. Warner, Sony and Universal were exercising their clout by not giving Spotify the licenses to their music for India. Music licenses are sold by territory, so Spotify can’t launch in India until the labels give it their blessing. A direct licensing agreement is non-exclusive: another company can approach an artist for the same content (as Spotify has licensed) and stream their music. The catch, however, is that Spotify is paying artists hundreds of thousands of dollars, worrying the legacy labels. Read more here: US labels blocking Spotify India launch because of direct licensing from artists: Reports

Competition in India

The music streaming market in India is already crowded with the likes of Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music, and domestic players like Gaana, Saavn, Wynk and Hungama. Most services charge about Rs 100 for monthly plans with a month-long free trial. Apple Music charged Rs 120 for an individual subscription, but offers the longest free trial period – for 3 months. Here’s a complete comparison of streaming services in India, with features and payments options each of them offer.

Financials

Spotify has 191 million monthly active users and grew its premium subscribers by 28% YoY to 87 million (see Q3 results pdf). Premiums earned it a revenue of €1,210 million out of a total revenue of €1,352 million in Q3 2018. Ad revenue was €142 million in the quarter.

Also read: Spotify IPO: Lessons for music streaming companies in India