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Podcast consumption on Gaana jumped 40 % YoY in 2021: CMO Shashwat Goswami

Discusses audio streaming boom & rising popularity of podcasts in an exclusive chat

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Mumbai: If the digital revolution paved the way for the OTT boom, it also provided a fresh impetus to the audio industry to evolve with the changing times. As the habit of consuming content on the go became a lifestyle for people, audio emerged as the most convenient option to keep one entertained and informed without any hassles.

According to the data released by the UK-based agency MIDia Research, worldwide music streaming subscriptions grew 26.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2021. The total number of subscribers currently stands at 521.3 million - an increase of 109.5 million from the year before.

The rise of podcasts

“Not just the musical content, but we saw a massive traction on our non-music content,” said Gaana head of marketing Shaswat Goswami in an exclusive conversation with Indiantelevision.com. Launched in 2010, the Times Internet-owned platform currently has around 180 million active listeners and finds its place among the top three streaming platforms in the country. The platform aspires to double its growth numbers by the end of 2022.

Discussing the increasing popularity of podcasts, Goswami said, “The overall consumption of podcasts on Gaana increased by ~40 per cent YoY, while we expanded our library to nearly 40K podcasts. This not only includes exclusive Gaana Originals but also a catalogue of national and international podcasts hosted in collaboration with different associations to keep pace with the rising demand.”

As people’s appetite for screen-free entertainment grew during the pandemic, the demand for podcasts also rose, especially from regional markets which witnessed a jump of 32 per cent in 2021. Podcasts of diverse genres such as music, motivation, stories and devotional ruled the non-music content. 

Competition heats up, as new players jump in

Audio streaming has seen a global boom with a host of streaming apps flooding the market during the last few years. India too witnessed a surge in popularity of music apps like Gaana, Spotify, JioSaavn, and Amazon music which stamped their impact on the country's audio streaming scene.

Talking about the increasing competition and entry of new players, Goswami said, “Unlike any other industry, we don’t lose a user simply because they have downloaded a new streaming app. Instead of uninstalling one as against the other new one, they usually continue using both apps. This kind of usage is the ‘new normal’ in music streaming – where there will be multiple apps on the phone.”

More opportunities for diverse, independent artists

With an increasing appetite for new content, Indians did not shy away from exploring a plethora of independent and diverse artists. The rise of streaming also empowered artists from all backgrounds to build a new fan base around the world and make successful careers in music. Streaming companies also provided the investment and support needed for the talent to thrive and reach a truly global audience.

“Gaana too worked closely with regional artists like Deepak Medatwal, Rajnish Kaushik, and Abhay Maheshwari,. We also plan to onboard more content creators including independent artists and established names in 2022 by further expanding our partner network and supporting individual podcasters in content creation and broadcasting,” said Goswami.

The Gaana CMO also expects regional language music and independent music to pick up in the coming months. “We are working with a lot of artists, and are constantly in touch with our label partners, artist partners for collaborations and to understand what support they are looking for on a new release and helping them,” added Goswami, who joined the audio streamer in October 2021 after moving on from grofers.

Focus on content marketing

The audio industry heavily relied on content marketing especially digital, along with traditional media like television, print to connect with their customers. Gaana launched most of its campaigns on digital and has been consistently growing its media spend in line with the business.

The audio platform’s marketing campaigns have also become more and more contextual and tailored to its user interests. The audio streamer has increasingly moved from mass campaigns to more segmented and personalised campaigns on the basis of language, user profile etc, and reported a 48-50 per cent jump in user retention over the last quarter.

The ambitious vision is to get to a billion users and ensure that it’s current consumer demographic represents the country’s internet penetrated demographic at large. “You cannot have 180 million users and not be representative of the country’s population," said Goswami. “So be it in terms of language or metro vs non-metro there’s no conscious targeting on the brand's part. However, we do see a lot of traction coming from the smaller towns, because that’s where the internet expansion is happening.”

With the battle of audio streaming apps heating up, Gaana CMO said the brand has been going all out to ensure it stays top of mind for its user base, as well as strengthening its main product – the app. “The bulk of our energies and innovations have been on that product- on how we can give our users an experience that’s glitch-free. Having great music content is our foremost priority, along with having a well-performing, quality product that guarantees a great user experience. That’s one major checkmark in Gaana’s favour, which we are constantly working on to better, along with the brand reach and awareness.”

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