Interview: Sriram Krishnan, Spotify
A few weeks ago, Spotify was officially made available in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. We speak to Sriram Krishnan, Head of New Markets in Asia Pacific, on the music service’s recent launch, as well as what’s in store for consumers.
Please give us a brief overview of Spotify.
Spotify is essentially the largest and most successful music service, and is now available in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. We aim to provide you the world’s music for free in a legal setting. What we’ve done is create a platform that lets fans engage their favourite artists in an amazing manner. The service also comes with an amazing search feature that lets you discover music via Facebook or through following Spotify users.
Would you qualify Spotify as a social platform?
Yes. Music is inherently social, and with Spotify, you can connect with artistes and influencers of the world, or even your Facebook friends.
Does Spotify have a physical presence in Malaysia?
Not yet. We launched just a few weeks ago, and we have offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, but we haven’t ruled out any moves just yet.
Why does Spotify’s Premium pricing differ from country to country?
So we’ve got HKD 48 for Hong Kong, SGD 9.90 for Singapore and RM 14.90 for Malaysia – these are all “sweet spots”, and we believe that these prices would enable consumers to start paying for music. Our basic Free service helps to tackle piracy, since it is easier than going to torrent sites and searching, but if you want music on-the-go, then you go for the Premium subscription.
Would give give an overview as to what the Premium subscription offers over the Free service?
You get the same catalogue of songs across both services, both you don’t get mobile access on the Free service, and the Premium subscription also offers higher-quality music (320kbps over the 160kbps found in Free). We also run advertisements on the Free service, which the Premium service does not have.
With the Premium service comes mobile access. Could you give us an overview of that as well?
The mobile app is similar to the desktop application feature-wise, but you have to remember “Search” and “Discovery” – two different ways of getting music. We cater to both. Your playlists are available. You can also see what your Facebook friends are listening to on Spotify, if they are using the service.
Why is the “Unlimited” tier not available for Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong?
It’s very simple: over the past few years, we have always tried to make the product simpler, and we also took into account mobile device penetration in the region. With these two factors into play, eliminating the “Unlimited” tier makes it easier for consumers.
Is there any collaboration between Spotify and the local recording industry?
Of course! We don’t launch until we have the relevant catalogue.
Has the local music industry been receptive towards Spotify?
Absolutely! Globally, people want Spotify to be available everywhere, because over the past few years, our main challenge piracy, and we have proven ourselves as a tool in overcoming piracy.
Are there any local artistes with an official Spotify profile?
We’re working on verifying a few artistes, so stay tuned.
Spotify’s Radio feature has “Genre Stations” like heavy metal and death metal. Are there any stations that cater to locals?
We do have Mandopop, Cantopop, K-Pop and J-Pop, and we are looking to further localise.
Spotify almost always gets the latest music, but what about older songs?
We have by far the most comprehensive music catalogue amongst all music services. In many instances, artistes put their content on Spotify before anywhere else. That said, we add 20,000 daily, so it’s constantly expanding.
Since its launch, has Spotify started promoting its services to the general public through advertisements?
We have got this amazing tie-up with Facebook, and it has been our main source of promotion. From Facebook, you can see that your friends are listening to, and if you don’t have Spotify, install it from there.
How many users are currently using the Premium service?
Currently, we have 24 million active subscribers worldwide, and in that number, 6 million are paid subscribers.
Why did Spotify choose to launch in Malaysia?
Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are stepping stones to expansion in Asia. There are also several contributing factors, like the indie scene being very active in this region, rampant piracy, and the prevalent use of Facebook in this region, with a remarkable number of users. These are the reasons why Spotify decided to launch in these countries.
Speaking of indie music, do the artistes approach you, or vice versa?
It doesn’t matter who approaches who. Whether you’re signed or unsigned, we still want your music. If you’re signed, then we go to the label, and if you’re not, there are the appropriate channels to follow-up on.
Around the time of Spotify’s launch in Malaysia, local telco DiGi announced its collaboration with Deezer. Is Spotify planning to collaborate with any of the telecommunication providers?
We do work with telcos from 11 countries, and we look forward to working with telcos from this region. We have not done so, but we are open to it.
After Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, what’s next for Spotify?
We want to be everywhere. However, from an Asian perspective, we will be focusing on these three countries first.