We live in a nation that is obsessed with bollywood movies and music and it is pretty much effortless to understand that any business revolving around them is bound to flourish. However, our multi-billion dollar industry is a mere fraction as compared to Hollywood and that is majorly because 95% of our revenues are generated through piracy and illegitimate methods.
But with the world going digital this problem is at the peak of getting resolved and one of the ships that has arrived to save our industry from piracy is “Saavn”.
Saavn short for “South Asian Audio Visual Network” is a digital distributor of Bollywood, Marathi Cinema and Tamil Cinema music, with rights to over 3 million music tracks. In simple, Saavn is a platform where you can listen to music ad-free and offline.
Saavn headquartered in New York, is a collective prodigy of Vinodh Bhat – Co-Founder & CEO, Anurag Gupta – Co-Founder & CTO, Rishi Malhotra – President and COO & Paramdeep Singh – Co-Founder & Managing Director, began in the year 2006 under the banner of BODVOD networks. Its target audience then was of only B2B customers based in North America such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, and Verizon FiOS.
Doing business in an industry where competitors like Pandora existed was definitely not an easy task but their risky decision did get them some traction and after a span of two years the company was now making USD 3-Million in revenues.
With the numbers talking for themselves, soon they realized that it was best for them to switch to a larger business model which could get them more prospects but at the same time stability.
So in January 2009, they raised about USD 6 million from US-based venture capital fund, Tiger Global Management LLC and a group of angel investors.
And finally with their 1,50,000 songs diverted their business to India in the year 2009. Saavn back then only focused on targeting the 150 million Indian users for distribution of legal and free music. And due to unavailability of such a platform, by the end of the FY09 they received a growth of 500% with revenues being somewhere around “low eight figures”. The growth was so fast that Saavn attracted a million users in the first six months itself.
They followed a very simple revenue model wherein they got money from three sources: Advertising, Subscription and Integration into mobile carrier’s data plans. As for revenue, Saavn kept about 70% of the gross revenues while the 30% went to record labels, besides a variable upfront fee.
From here onward there was no looking back for them! In 2010, Saavn partnered with Google to offer its music streaming services to a broader audience on Google Music India followed by that they launched their first ever app – “Saavn Music for Android” along with “Saavn Music for iPhone” & “Saavn Music for Chrome”.
Image Credit- Saavn
In late 2011, Saavn was selected to be Facebook’s global partner and first Indian partner on the Open Graph platform. These transformations helped increase the traffic on the site by 30x. Saavn now generated 2.3 billion impressions on Facebook and to add on to that, the monthly music streams had also grown by over 200%.
As of June 2012, the company had a million unique visitors and 8.33 million page views, according to ComScore. Saavn also claimed to have over 10 million unique users worldwide and accounted for half a million new users every month.
Saavn at this point offered two services to its customers; free & paid, wherein the free version was available on Smartphones, tablets and web browsers & the paid version called Saavn Pro, allowed users to download the songs and listen to it offline without advertisements. In India, the maximum demand for their service came from the metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Indore, Noida, etc.
With a team of 60+ members, in the year 2013 they had completely diverted their focus to cracking more deals along with aggressively marketing themselves globally with mediums like digital and TV ad campaigns. They even partnered with tech giants such as Shazam, and Firefox, and with telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone, and Tata Docomo, etc.
And recently in 2014, it has been reported that Saavn has raised another round of funding worth USD 4 million by Hong Kong-based Steadview Capital most of which will be used for market expansion in regions such as the Middle East. Followed by this news it was also brought to light that they have added 8lakh more songs, totaling their list to 2-Million.
Saavn earlier this year also tied up with record label T-Series and at the same time gained access to content from other major labels like Sony, Tips, Yash Raj, Universal, Warner, and EMI. Saavn Music for Android and iPhone has been downloaded more than 10 million times, and is used by over 10 million monthly active users.
Currently, the company stands as the largest Indian music service available worldwide on the Web, iOS, Android, and WAP. They have already been featured in The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Fortune, Variety and Crain’s Business as well. The company presently competes with only two other sites Gaana.com & Dhingana.com in the Indian market. Their website stands at #2,920 in Alexa Global ranking and 296 in Indian ranking. With these stats the company is clearly a winner in the Indian Market and will soon enter to compete in the USD 9 Billion Global market.
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