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Sahas Malhotra

The music streaming space just got more competitive with the launch of the much-awaited Amazon Prime Music, which is ad-free and comes at zero cost for existing Prime (a paid subscription service) members. Use Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant Alexa to navigate or stream it on the company’s recently launched smart speakers, Echo. But before you stream, hear it from Sahas Malhotra, director of Amazon Music India.

What took Amazon so long to launch Prime Music in India, given that the original public beta version was launched in the US in 2007? 

We wanted to ensure the best possible music streaming experience to our customers across multiple devices. Above all, the uninterrupted music streaming service with no voice and visual ads helps deliver a flawless experience and we are excited to bring this experience as a Prime value-add. 

You have tough competition in the form of Apple Music, Saavn and Gaana...

Well, Amazon Prime Music as a service is designed to eliminate customers’ pain areas. We have been constantly listening to our customers — we know they want ad-free, localised content… this is one of the reasons we launched with tens of millions of songs in more than 10 Indian languages. Our expertly-curated programming through playlists and stations fit every moment and play non-stop music for hours — customers can simply play what they are in the mood to hear, and just sit back and relax. The intuitive voice controls — powered by Alexa — removes the need to type, browse or search… just tap the Alexa icon in the Amazon Prime Music app, and she will play what you want. 
What’s popular in India now?

Some of the interesting insights we have gathered include love for independent music tracks, followed by music genres and artistes. We have witnessed a healthy mix of international and domestic content... people love listening to music in Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Arijit Singh, Kishore Kumar and A.R. Rahman are the top three most requested Indian artistes, while Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Justin Bieber are the top three from the international catalogue. 

There is a lot of affinity towards our playlists and stations on Bollywood, followed by pop, jazz, party and dance. Devotional and kids’ music are two additional franchises, which have surprised us in a positive way. In terms of moods and activities, workout and meditation are the top two. Given the diverse nature of fitness activities, we have playlists that are relevant to different types of workouts.

A key difference between the US and India listening habits is… in the US, customers request songs by artistes, like Ed Sheeran and so on. In India, however, customers request songs by Bollywood stars, like Shah Rukh love songs.

And who are you hooked to on Amazon Prime Music?

Some of my favourites are Ed Sheeran, Jagjit Singh, R.D. Burman and jazz.

t2 is listening to on Prime Music…

La Luz: California Finally
The Los Angeles surf rock band singing about the “weird golden paradise” makes a great entry on any weekend playlist.
Lily Allen: Higher and Three
While we wait for the English singer-songwriter’s first album (No Shame) in four years, listen to her relationship drama Higher and Three, which is a lovely piano ballad written from the perspective of her young children.
Jimi Hendrix: Both Sides of the Sky
The third album in a posthumous trilogy of unreleased studio recordings begins with Mannish Boy, which has the guitar legend having a great time while the final track, Cherokee Mist, has the man on the sitar. Simply brilliant.

Mathures Paul


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