Times Internet-backed music streaming app Gaana recently clocked 150 million monthly active users (MAU) to become the largest player in the audio OTT industry. The company that streams more than 3.5 billion songs every month says that this growth is largely on the basis of its regional content and Bollywood music. The company’s new venture is podcasts. In December, the company announced a lineup of original podcasts to compete with global giants like Spotify and Google Podcasts. The company said that it plans to reach 10 crore podcast play-outs per month.

Use of OTT platforms and other online entertainment is on the rise due to limited recreational options amid the lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19. Fortune India spoke to Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana to learn about the trends in the music streaming industry and the change in consumption patterns during the lockdown.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Have you noticed any new trends with respect to audio OTT streaming?

Indians have been spending a significant amount of their leisure time hooked onto their smartphones with the Covid-19 health advisory in effect. As the leader in the country’s music streaming space, our pervasiveness has made us the ideal choice for the wider Indian audience across urban and tier II / III cities.

How has the lockdown affected your numbers of music streaming?

Gaana has more than 150 million monthly active users. Our paid subscriptions are currently a single-digit percentage of our overall user-base, but it has grown by more than 3 times since last year. We believe the market will grow to around 500-600 million users in the next 3 years on the back of mobile-first innovation.

Tell me some patterns/trends that you’ve noticed in the kind of content that people are consuming. Are there any particular genres that have seen a sudden uptick?

Consumers are exploring a new kind of music and audio content, they’re also doing it at different times in the day. There’s party music playing in the morning, devotional podcasts in the evening and relaxing Zen music in the afternoons.

With global giants like Spotify and YouTube Music now in India, is it difficult to sustain growth?

India is a large market with a billion-plus population and can comfortably accommodate a bunch of music streaming apps. Gaana has the first-mover advantage in the market with a strong brand recall and the largest market share in the music streaming space. Our understanding of Indian users and their music tastes as well as our understanding of the various music trends in different languages across the country is what makes us stand out and shine.

What are the initiatives that you’ve taken to minimise the impact?

We have partnered with leading non-profit organization Give India to provide life-saving masks to the most vulnerable sections of society during the ongoing lockdown. We are empowering our users to be able to contribute to this noble cause by streaming more music on the Gaana App. We will supply around hundred thousand masks of various types to ensure the protection of these people.

What is your growth project for the next half of the year?

With music streaming marketing continuing to grow, our goal would be to cross 200 million MAU within the next half of the year.

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