Tencent buys into Indian streaming service Gaana with $115m investment

Tencent has acquired yet another stake in a music streaming platform, two months after its subsidiary took control of a 10% equity holding in Spotify.

The Chinese media giant has led a US $115m investment round in India-based Gaana, which was founded in 2010 by Times Media / Times Internet and surpassed 50m monthly users in November last year – a figure which was up by 10m on just two months prior.

Gaana says that it plans to use the new capital to develop AI tools which will improve the service’s personalized interface for users, as well as enhancing its subscription tier. Like Spotify, Gaana offers users a paid-for subscription model as well as an ad-supported free service.

Times Internet has joined Tencent in the $115m raise.

Gaana’s current competition in India includes Saavn, Wynk and Xiaomi-backed Hungama, as well as Apple Music.

Spotify is yet to launch in the territory, but is reported to have quietly open an office in the market last year.

“By investing in and collaborating with Gaana, we look forward to bringing more innovation and better experiences to all Indian music lovers.”

Martin Lau, Tencent Holdings

Tencent Holdings President Martin Lau said: “As more affordable mobile data plans are driving smartphone penetration in India, we believe growth in the music streaming market will accelerate.

“By investing in and collaborating with Gaana, we look forward to bringing more innovation and better experiences to all Indian music lovers.”

Gautam Sinha, CEO of Times Internet, said: “We are happy to welcome Tencent as a partner in Gaana and benefit from their global learnings.

“Tencent operates the largest music streaming business in China, and we look forward to working closely with them to continue to innovate and drive the digital music market in India.”

Tencent’s majority-owned subsidiary Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) became a 10% shareholder in Spotify at the end of last year as part of a stock swap between the two companies.

Like Spotify, TME is widely expected to float on the stock market this year, with a valuation believed to be in the region of $10bn.

Tencent spent big in 2016 to acquire a majority stake in $2.7bn-valued China Music Corp, taking control of two key music platforms in China – Kuwo and KuGou.

Added together with its own QQ Music, Tencent’s Chinese music services are said to reach over 700m monthly active users.

Tencent Holdings’ market cap currently stands at 4.11bn Hong Kong Dollars, or US $530 billion.

To put that into context, Facebook’s current market cap is $527bn, Google’s is $776bn and Apple’s is $905bn.Music Business Worldwide

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