India’s leading music streaming service Saavn has reportedly got investment from former Vodafone global CEO Arun Sarin, who will now also take up charge of an advisor to the Delhi-based company.
The investment is an extension of the previous round, but the stake sold or deal size was not disclosed.
The move comes as Saavn, which recenlty raised a $100-million round of funding, is stepping up focus on monetization and looking to tie up with telecommunication companies in India for bundled packs where Arun’s experience and network is expected to help Saavn. Sarin recently took a similar role at cab aggregator Ola.
Saavn competes with Hungama and Gaana, owned by Times Group, besides international players like Apple Music, Rdio and Guevera.
“They are leveraging the smartphone revolution in India where today there are roughly 100M smartphones. And in five years, we’ll have 500 million smartphones in India,” Sarin said in a statement. He will work with the company on scaling the business, distribution of the product and organizational structure, among other things.
Founded in 2007 by Rishi Malhotra, Paramdeep Singh, Vinodh Bhat and Anurag Gupta, Saavn is a digital distributor of English, Bollywood and regional Indian music in over 200 countries. The company has acquired rights to over 7 million music tracks till date.
Saavn offers free music search and streaming supported by display advertisements. It has over 18 million monthly active users, as compared with 14 million users two months ago when it announced the round of funding. It does 250 million streams per month and gets 90% of usage on mobile, underling the importance of tying up with telcos and mobile carriers.
Saavn’s signature products are Saavn.com, Saavn Pro, Saavn Music for iPhone, Saavn Music for Android, and Saavn Radio.
“We are engaging with all the carriers, and there is a lot of interest in bundling Saavn service with data plans as mobile ecosystem is about music, messaging and social,” said Malhotra, co-founder and CEO of Saavn.
Carriers like Airtel also have their own music services like Wynk, but Sarin does not see that as hindrance.
Notably, last month, Saavn tied up with online wallet service provider Paytm. The company now claims that the number of paid subscribers have also increased over the last two months by 25%.
In December 2014 Saavn partnered with Twitter to introduce a tweet-powered radio station, @SaavnRadio.
Saavn also integrated a social networking feature with its music streaming service in April 2015. Saavn Social allows users to follow the profiles and playlists of their friends as well as celebrities. Users can share any song, album or playlist with their friends and chat about music real-time.
Saavn, which so far has raised $110 million in three different funding rounds, counts Tiger Global Management as its biggest investor while its other investors include Bertelsmann India Investments and Steadview Capital.