How Philippines became Spotify's 2nd fastest growing market in the world

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 25 2015 10:01 AM | Updated as of Apr 26 2015 07:41 PM

From left, Riza Azcuna-Siongco, Globe Telecom Content Director; Sunita Kaur, Spotify Managing Director for Asia; Daniel James Horan, Globe Telecom Senior Advisor for Consumer Business, and Chee Meng Tan, Spotify Director of Label Relations for Asia Pacific.

MANILA, Philippines - Just how much do Pinoys love streaming music on Spotify?

In its first year in the Philippines, Spotify said it saw a record 2.5 billion streams from Filipino subscribers. This was the highest number of streams Spotify recorded from any Asian market in its first year of launch.

"As we were planning our launch a year ago, we knew we would have a special relationship with Pinoy music fans. But what we have seen in the past year has been amazing. We have seen 2.5 billion songs being streamed, which is phenomenal. And 6.8 million playlists, we have never seen anything like that happen in launch year in Asia. It's been a lot of record-breaking firsts for us in the Philippines," Sunita Kaur, managing director of Spotify (Asia), said in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com.

To the uninitiated, Spotify is a digital music service where users can access over 30 million tracks. It's free, but it offers a paid "premium service" for users who want to listen to music without ads, create their own playlists and play songs "off-line".

It's perhaps because of the Filipinos' love for music, whether singing, dancing or just listening, that Spotify quickly gained ground in the Philippines even though it wasn't the first music streaming service here.

"It made sense, we're really about the music. And we're in a country of intense music lovers," Kaur said.

Another reason for its growth in the Philippines is Spotify's partnership with Globe Telecom. Globe offers free music streaming via Spotify to subscribers of its GoSurf plans.

"Our partnership with Globe in the Philippines is definitely one of the pillars of our success," Kaur said.

Rina Azcuna-Siongco, Globe director for content-consumer marketing, said Globe made sure to bring down Spotify rates for the Philippines to make it more affordable for more Filipinos.

"We said the daily rate, it has to be as cheap as a jeepney ride. It's P20 a day with mobile data, something like that to make it affordable and reachable to everyone," she said.

These reasons have helped the Philippines become the second fastest-growing market for Spotify in the world, next only to Canada.

"When we were just looking at 2014 overall, Philippines was the second fastest growing Spotify market globally," Kaur said.

Spotify is currently in 58 countries, with 60 million subscribers. This includes 15 million subscribers for its premium service.

In the Philippines, data from Spotify showed the service is being used by one out of five Filipinos with Internet access. Nearly 60 percent of users are streaming Spotify on mobile, while 70 percent of all Spotify subscribers use the service with Globe.

All about the music

At the core of Spotify's success is its extensive music catalog, with 30 million tracks available.

Chee Meng Tan, Spotify director of label relations -APAC, said 20,000 new tracks are being added every day, including more OPM.

"The country has incredible talents, such diverse music of all genres, pop, underground," he said.

Tan said Spotify also wants to introduce Filipino artists to a wider audience, through its playlists.

"I like to talk about Lorde. When we ran her first single Royals on our playlist, it started to trend and hit viral charts and before you know it she's picking up a Grammy award for best new artist. Who knows. My personal dream is to have someone from Asia, Philippines, have this happen soon," he said.

Spotify said the most streamed OPM song since its launch is "Tadhana" by Up Dharma Down.

Spotify also recently picked Hale as the first Filipino artist to be featured in its Spotify Sessions. There is no date yet when it will be released.

New challenges

Spotify has maintained that music streaming services like theirs has helped combat music piracy.

Spotify started in 2008 in Sweden, but it was last year when it became part of the global conversation because pop star Taylor Swift decided to remove her songs from the service.

In response to Swift's decision, Spotify said: "We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy. That’s why we pay nearly 70% of our revenue back to the music community."

Spotify is confident it would be able to attract Swift back to its service.

"We love Taylor Swift, we want her to come back to the service soon. In terms of the conversation that was had globally, there was a lot of education about streaming. There were a lot who didn't understand what streaming was before and once they read that news and they were like 'that's interesting, let's try it out'," Jim Butcher, Spotify communications director -APAC, said.

Competition in the music streaming industry is about to heat up.

Rap mogul Jay Z launched a music streaming service called Tidal, a strictly paid subscription service where artists such as Beyonce, Kanye West and Madonna release exclusive tracks. Apple is also reportedly launching its own Beats music streaming service soon.

But Spotify is welcoming the competition.

"It's been wonderful for us because music streaming space is still relatively new. But it's the future. When you've got more players coming to the space, that's more voices coming to what music streaming is, more voices talking about anti-piracy and moving half-a billion people who are still pirating music from around the world to a safe and legal platform. It's a good thing when we're all together combating piracy, which is what we need to be doing," Kaur said.