Spotify Focuses on Localization to Smooth Next Expansion in Asia

  • Users in Indonesia spend on average 90 minutes a day
  • In Philippines, 1 in 4 mobile users stream on Spotify

Spotify is tailoring its service for local tastes, from topical playlists to tiered pricing, as it prepares to expand its music streaming in Asia.

That strategy includes beefing up content such as Korean pop music popular in Southeast Asia and offering different payment methods in markets where credit cards are rare, said Sunita Kaur, managing director of Spotify Asia.

Having amassed an audience of 100 million globally, the streaming service has turned to Asia to gain new customers and convince existing ones to spend more time on the service. Besides Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, Spotify is available in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan with more markets planned.

“We want to be everywhere in Asia,’’ Kaur said in Singapore, without elaborating. “We don’t have a set road map as yet because we let the licensing lead us. So once the licensing deals for a market is done, then we can get ready to launch.”

Some localization requires a sense of humor. When the skies over Singapore and Malaysia were filled with smoke from fires in neighboring Indonesia last year, Spotify came up with the 40-track playlist “Hazed & Confused,’’ featuring Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire’’ to “Harder to Breathe’’ by Maroon 5.

The playlist became a hit, with many users sharing it in their social network.

The company has also adopted different pricing for its premium services, from S$9.90 ($7.30) a month in Singapore and HK$48 ($6.20) in Hong Kong and 129 pesos ($2.70) in the Philippines.

Since Spotify debuted in Indonesia at the end of March, users in the country have spent almost 20 million hours streaming music, according to the company. On average, they are spending 90 minutes a day streaming music from the platform with Justin Bieber the most popular artist.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, where few people use credit cards, Spotify offered cash payments for the first time since its inception in 2008. Users can pay via bank transfer, ATM, Doku Wallet and at convenience stores while the company also tied up with phone company Indosat Tbk PT to offer monthly packages.

Customers in the Philippines can also make cash payments at retail outlets, with one in four people with mobile internet in the country streaming on Spotify, it said. Users spend on average 86 minutes per day on the app.

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