Saavn, the Indian music streaming company, today announced it is closing $100 million in a new funding round led by Tiger Global Management. The company was founded in 2007, and has offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, New York, and California.
In addition to Tiger Global Management, existing investors Bertelsmann India Investments, Steadview Capital, Liberty Media, and Mousse Partners are participating in this Series C round. The company is also adding new global investors Quilvest, additional Hong Kong-based hedge funds, and a number of strategic individuals in this round. Advisory for the round was led by Avendus Capital in Mumbai and LionTree Advisors in New York.
Saavn had a B2B offering till about 2009, where they partnered with several distribution platforms streaming legal movies. They distributed Bollywood films on Hulu, for online viewers in the USA and partnered with YouTube to offer free, legal Bollywood movies online for a global audience. Then in 2009 they shifted their focus to being a destination for Bollywood music and launched Saavn.com, a free music streaming service, with features like playlists.
Growth and Partnership
Saavn has an ad-supported ‘freemium’ service and a paid pro service, through which it generates revenue. They launched their android app in 2010, followed by their iOS app. In 2011, they launched their web based chrome app and also became Facebook’s first global partner on the open graph platform.
In 2012, Saavn entered a partnership deal with Sony to acquire their entire music catalog database. In 2013, they entered an exclusive partnership with Shazam, the mobile based music identification service and Saavn’s music library was incorporated in Shazam’s music database. Then in 2013, Saavn launched its radio model and partnered with Twitter to crowd-source song requests through the handle @SaavnRadio
In early 2015, Saavn partnered with the global non-profit Akshaya Patra to launch ‘#MusicForMeals’, an initiative to provide midday meals for school-going children in India. Over the years they have also partnered with global brands like Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Bose, General Motors, Nokia, Samsung etc. The company is also working with teams at Microsoft to launch Saavn on Windows in August 2015. The company has 900+ label partnerships including T-Series, Tips, YRF, Saregama, Eros, Universal, Sony, and Warner Music.
As India becomes the leading market for Android handset growth, Saavn has been growing its monthly active users by over 1MM users a month. Since announcing 11MM monthly active users in Q1 2015, the company has increased its monthly active user base to 14MM users. They aim to cross 20MM users by the end of the year.
With more than 90% of Saavn usage on mobile devices, the company is also announcing updates to its mobile offerings. These updates have been released for Android devices and will be available on iOS devices in the coming weeks. The updates include:
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 personalization in ‘My Music’ category and enhanced music tagging and music chat features for Saavn Social.
In India, Saavn is competing with Hungama, Airtel’s Wynk, San Francisco based Rdio which acquired Dhingana, Gaana.com and recently launched Apple Music. On the global front there is Spotify, which recently raised $525M in funding in June, taking their total tally to $1.1B. On the other hand Grooveshark shut down in April 2015 as a part of a legal settlement.
Music streaming has picked up well in developed economies and with low cost mobile devices and easier access to internet services they seem to be picking up in developing countries as well. With Indians becoming more comfortable about transacting online as a result of e-commerce, music streaming services may also see similar user adoption.