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NEW DELHI : With the easing of mobility restrictions across the country, audio streaming services, which witnessed a 5-15% drop during the peak of the second covid wave, are seeing consumption bounce back, said industry executives.

Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra were the top contributors. However, people are preferring soulful, even spiritual tracks more than party music, which reflects the consumers’ state of mind and changing lifestyle needs. Though Bollywood music remains an eternal favourite, regional language tracks, especially Telugu and Bhojpuri, have gained as Hindi movie releases have been delayed.

“The initial lockdown and the consequent stay-at-home lifestyle severely altered our lives, and our music listening patterns forever. There were drops of 5-15% across categories over April and May, but since June there has been a strong comeback, not just in volumes but per-capita consumption," said Vivek Pandey, chief operating officer, Gaana.

Delhi and Mumbai in Maharashtra were the top contributors to Gaana’s user base, Pandey said. However, on a per-capita basis, Gujarat and Hindi heartland states have shown strong consumption growth. Gujarat has a 15-20% lead over the national average for average listening time, while Hindi heartland states saw a 40% rise in consumption of local content this year, he added.

A JioSaavn spokesperson said the platform witnessed a shift in consumption patterns during the first lockdown with a fall in streaming volume during work and post-work hours. “Users are steadily returning to pre-covid behaviour with the peak time between 10 am and 4 pm," he added.

With delayed Hindi movie releases, consumers of Bollywood and pop music migrated to independent and regional language songs, with Bhojpuri and Telugu emerging as the top gainers, the person added.

A Spotify spokesperson said most of the consumption was still happening from home—on tablets, desktops, gaming consoles, speakers and TVs. “In the last year-and-a half, we saw an increase in consumption of independent and non-film music." Direct-to-digital films such as Shershaah (Amazon Prime Video), which managed over 100 million streams on Spotify, saw great traction, while English, Korean and Japanese pop, instrumental and Spanish music are also becoming popular, he added.

To be sure, the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic has aided the growth of some genres. Gaana’s Pandey said devotional music streams have risen by as much as 40% since April this year, eating a little into the share of party favourite Punjabi Pop. Pulkit Sharma, co-founder and CEO, Khabri, a vernacular audio platform that targets learning and knowledge-based courses, that tripled its user base said they benefitted from anxious students and exam aspirants turning to audio as educational institutes and coaching centres remain shut.

Shailesh Sawlani, country head, Audible India, that offers audiobooks and podcasts, said the platform hasseen listeners experiment with different genres, and those from the self-development, spirituality genre have done well, as well as romance, horror, mythology and “escapist fiction", i.e., fiction titles featuring places and situations very different from our world.

“Over the last two years, we customized a lot of our content to provide value and relief to our listeners during these challenging times. We introduced the Audible Sleep Collection last year, which offers access to bedtime stories, ASMRs (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and Sound Baths to help people stay calm and stress-free," Sawlani said adding that the platform saw a surge in interest for sleep titles during the second wave and decided to make the catalogue free for a larger audience by collaborating with Alexa, the virtual assistant technology developed by Amazon.

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