Ex-Vodafone CEO invests in Indian streaming service Saavn

Arun Sarin, who was the CEO of Vodafone Group from 2005-2008, has joined Indian streaming service Saavn as a strategic advisor – and made a significant investment in the company.

In making the announcement, Saavn, which has over 20m songs on its service, said that it now boasts 18m monthly active users – more than Deezer, which is currently on course for an IPO in France.

Saavn also said that it has seen a 10-times increase in daily active users in India since 2014, and that its service is now clocking up 250 million streams per month.

“Music streaming is a core app on today’s smartphones, and Saavn is superbly positioned to grow rapidly in the fast expanding smartphone market in India,” said Sarin.

“As an innovative and nimble music streaming company, at the heart of one of the world’s most valuable markets, Saavn hits all the right notes.”

To call India ‘one of the world’s most valuable markets’ in music terms isn’t really fair: across 2014, the nation generated $100m for recorded music rights-holders. \

According to the IFPI that puts it at No.20 on the league table of biggest territories.

“As an innovative and nimble music streaming company, at the heart of one of the world’s most valuable markets, Saavn his all the right notes.”

Arun Sarin, Saavn

However, the fast-growing economy and 1.25bn population of India certainly offer reasons for excitement within the music biz.

Saavn offers consumers two options: ad-supported free streaming, as well as subscription.

In India, this premium tier starts at Rs.99 (US $1.50) a month, the same price as competitors, Gaana and Hungama.

One problem: according to the IFPI, revenues from subscription streaming revenue fell 42% in India last year to $12.37m. Cash from ad-supported ‘free’ services grew 108% to $22.72m.

Gaana is owned by Times Internet Ltd.

Other services in the market include Saregama, aApple Music, Rdio and Guvera. Spotify is yet to enter the Indian market.

Meanwhile, India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd operates Wynk Music.

“As we continue to build a world-class mobile entertainment company, we believe in collaborating with the best partners in the world. With over 90% of our usage driven by smartphones, Saavn users are moving data plan transactions and driving data engagement at an incredible pace,” said Rishi Malhotra, CEO, SaavnMusic Business Worldwide

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