Amazon Prime Music launches podcasts in India 2 years after Gaana and Spotify; here's why it is still confident about its timing
Amazon Prime Music will focus on increasing its podcasts' adoption rate and awareness this yearUnsplash
Amazon Prime Music joins the podcast race in India

Amazon Prime Music launches podcasts in India 2 years after Gaana and Spotify; here's why it is still confident about its timing

Amazon Prime Music joins the podcast race in India
  • As Amazon Prime Music announces the launch of its podcasts in India, we speak to Sahas Malhotra, Country Director, Amazon Prime Music, India.
  • He shares his game plan with us to beat the competitors, trends he expects to see in the podcast industry and monetization opportunities for creators.
Amazon Prime Music is the latest platform to enter the podcast market in India. The streaming service announced this morning that it will be rolling out podcasts for free and will also offer its own original programming.

The first set will include locally popular shows by creators including Jay Shetty, Cyrus Broacha, Neil Bhatt, Robin Sharma, Sadhguru, Anupam Gupta amongst others as well as international Amazon Originals such as The First One with DJ Khaled, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, Disgraceland for its users in multiple languages across motivation, business, technology, comedy, music, fitness and more. Podcasts will be available on the Amazon Prime Music app on Android and iOS, Web player and Amazon Echo devices.

In an exclusive interaction with us, Sahas Malhotra, Country Director, Amazon Prime Music, India said, “We are officially launching Podcasts on Amazon Prime Music in India. This launch signals a further investment in entertainment, and a continued evolution of our service as a premiere destination for music and culture. We’re offering over 9 million podcast episodes at launch and will continue to grow the catalog post launch. With this launch, we are bringing locally popular shows along with global originals and exclusives for Prime customers at no additional cost. Today’s announcement is just the start. We’ll continue to add popular shows, announce new and exclusive podcasts examining music, entertainment, culture, history and much more.”

Worldwide, Amazon Prime Music launched podcasts in the U.S., UK, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Brazil in 2020 and in Canada in Feb 2021. On whether COVID interrupted streaming services’ planning and delayed the launching process in India, Malhotra said they were able to stick to their plan.

“The launch in India is as planned. In addition, in 2021 we launched several music features like Playlist Import, Car Mode and launched music programming in Assamese and Oriya; and we will continue to enhance the music as well as podcast listening experience for our customers,” said he.

While podcasts have been around for a while India, it has seen an exponential growth in the last two years. According to KPMG, India is the third-largest podcast-listening market globally and is expected to be valued at INR 17.62 Cr by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 34.5%.

Audio was also one of the most preferred mediums last year. As per eMarketer’s report from April 2020, 49% of users prefer using audio platforms like Gaana, Spotify and JioSaavn regularly. Spotify and Gaana launched their podcasts in 2019. Last month, Spotify also launched its first B2C campaign for podcasts and is working on increasing brand awareness for its new offerings. So, will Amazon Prime Music Podcast beat already established competitors like Spotify Podcasts, Gaana and JioSaavn?

Malhotra is confident about the platform's timing. With the rising COVID cases, people are stuck at home and this uncertainty is making India anxious again. So, the audience is looking for content to learn more about self-love, discover something new, cope with anxiety or simply to entertain themselves. People are open to entertainment and even willing to pay extra for quality content.

He said, “We think now is a perfect time to launch! We have the opportunity to accelerate the growth of podcasts, bringing them to even more customers and growing the overall pie – just as we did with the launch of music. It’s still early days for us, but as we continue to listen to customers and evolve, we are confident that over time, Amazon Prime Music will become the preferred service for podcast listening for Prime customers.”

Prime members will have unrestricted access to over 9 million podcast episodes across popular genres. They will use direct communication channels to drive awareness for podcasts amongst their customers. For now, the platform did not share a B2C marketing plan with us.

Monetization opportunities

Amazon Prime Music’s Podcasts will have pre-embedded ads added by either the creator or publisher, which cannot be changed at this point.

Malhotra said, “We will offer new audiences for podcast creators, which means more listeners and more monetization opportunities. Amazon Prime Music offers creators the ability to grow their listening audience, which is one of the primary drivers of their ability to monetize. We pass through all their ads to listeners, enabling them to sell ads against a larger customer base.”

Many other audio streaming platforms have started investing in Artificial Intelligence already to improve their machine learning capabilities, offer context targeting with dynamic ad insertions to their advertisers. Malhotra said that Amazon Prime Music spent more on listening to their users and getting the services they asked for first.

“In building our podcast features, we worked backwards from what customers wanted and prioritized a better voice experience, including the ability to seamlessly switch listening from the phone to an Echo device with no device linking steps, and hands-free listening experience with Alexa for our mobile apps, as well as the ability to ask for specific show seasons and episodes by number or name. Whether listening on mobile, web, or on Echo devices with Alexa, Amazon Prime Music makes it easy for customers to find, start, and continue listening to podcasts throughout the day. Only with Amazon Prime Music can customers ask for the latest episode of their favorite show on Echo during their morning routine, resume playback on their phone while working out, and seamlessly move to their Echo device - just by asking Alexa,” shared Malhotra.

In the first year of its launch, Amazon Music Prime will be focusing on increasing its adoption rate.

“In 2021, our primary focus will be on driving podcast awareness and adoption amongst Prime customers. Also, increasing podcast selection, both local and global, and learning about podcast consumption behavior of our listeners in guiding us to better refine the experience will be our priority,” said Malhotra.