Indian Spotify rival Saavn grabs $100m funding and hits 14m users

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Indian music streaming company Saavn has secured $100 million in a new funding round led by Tiger Global Management – as the streaming competition in India hots up.

Existing Saavn investors such as Bertelsmann India Investments, Steadview Capital, Liberty Media, and Mousse Partners have also participated in this round, along with new investor Quilvest, plus additional Hong Kong-based hedge funds, and a number of individuals.

Although Spotify is yet to launch in India, Apple Music did come to the territory when it arrived last week.

It will have its work cut out to succeed: in a reversal of the business story in most global markets, subscription streaming income was almost cut in half in India last year, down 42% from US $21.4m to $12.3m.

Meanwhile, free streaming services were up 108.1% in value terms in 2014 according to the IFPI, to $22.72m.

Saavn has confirmed that it now boasts 14m monthly users. Growing by around a million people a month, it aims to surpass a 20m user base by the end of the year.

The company offers users freemium and paid-for options.

Rishi Malhotra, CEO and co-founder of Saavn, said: “Music streaming is at the center of the music industry, and India is one of the most important music economies in the world.

“With 2 million Androids shipping each week, music is driving data consumption and redefining mobile advertising.

“We are building the best-in-class mobile entertainment ecosystem… music is just the beginning.”

Rishi Malhotra, Saavn

“We are building the best-in-class mobile entertainment ecosystem, with music as the foundation.

“Our investors continue to be the best partners in the world. We’re excited to add millions of users to the Saavn family and deliver our long-term product vision across multiple platforms. Music is only the beginning.”

Lee Fixel, partner at Tiger Global Management, added: “Saavn continues to innovate consumer products designed for India’s growing mobile user base. The team has built a leadership position in a unique marketplace while at the same time developing a world-class music service. We’re excited to support Saavn as it continues to define India’s mobile entertainment market.”

2014 saw big players in the streaming space such as Rdio and Guvera launch streaming services in India – the latter recently confirmed that it has attracted 3 million users in the region.

Meanwhile, telco operators such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have launched services to leverage their existing data bundling and billing capabilities.

Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, launched music app Wynk, which has now crossed more than 5 million downloads, played 100 million songs and been featured in Google Play Store’s ‘Favourite Apps’.

To try and stay ahead of the competition, Saavn has released an update to its Android product, with an iOS update to follow.

The company is also working with Microsoft to launch Saavn on Windows in August 2015.

There’s also mobile improvements on the way, including:

  • A personalized multi-language homescreen, additional charts, including top “Rewind” charts by decade for all 11 languages.
  • Infinite scroll and “One-Click Play” on homescreen.
  • New and trending content along with enhanced personalisation in ‘My Music’ category and enhanced music tagging and music chat features.

Eight-year-old Saavn has offices in five locations across India and US, viz. Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, New York, and California.

Advisory for its latest funding round was led by Avendus Capital in Mumbai and LionTree Advisors in New York.

[Pictured: Saavn founders Paramdeep Singh, Rishi Malhotra and Vinodh Bhat]Music Business Worldwide

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