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Saavn adds English music, takes Gaana.com head on

Saavn (South Asian Audio Video Network), a US-based (and India focused) free digital music service and one of the Techcircle Fastrack 2012 winners, has added English music to its offerings. The company has tied up with music labels like Universal Music and Sony Music for the content, and as of now, it is claiming to have 2.5 lakh songs on the site.

Till now, the company was offering music in five languages that included Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.

Paramdeep Singh, co-founder, Saavn, said, “As the nation with the second-largest population of English speakers in the world, India is a prime market for western music.”

The songs on the site are from artists like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Carrie Underwood, Chris Brown, Britney Spears, INXS, Jimmy Hendrix, Jay-Z, Pitbull, Shakira and Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, Justin Timberlake, Kings of Leon, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Miguel, Oasis, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, David Guetta, Kanye West and Jennifer Lopez.

As of now, the songs are only available on the site, but the company is planning to offer them on its apps as well (Android, iOS and Java/J2ME).

According to the company, it has music licensing deals with over 300 South Asian record labels, has over a million tracks under license, and offers its content to listeners in over 200 countries.

In India, the company competes with the likes of Gaana.com and Dhingana.com, among others (read our recent feature on the trio here) .

Among these, only Times Internet’s Gaana.com had international music, while the other two were exclusively for Indian and south Asian music.

This perhaps also explained how Gaana.com gained over the others despite launching much later.  Gaana is the biggest both in terms of user base and songs and  Saavn was third after Dhingana in terms of both users and songs,  an equation which could change post this latest addition to Saavn.

With Saavn moving into English, it would now compete directly with Gaana.com while catering to additional audience.

Even as its primary audience is likely to be south Asians based in the sub-continent or abroad, with the latest move, it may also try and eat into big pie dominated by the likes of Spotify and Pandora among others. However, it would be a midget compared to these big daddy’s of music streaming at least for international music. NYSE-listed Pandora is valued at $1.2 billion and Spotify recently raised funding, which values it at $3 billion, so Saavn looks to be on the right path.

Founded in 2006 by three US-based entrepreneurs, Vin Bhat, Neal Shenoy and Singh, Saavn, has partnered with New York-based parent company 212Media (also founded by Bhat, Shenoy, and Singh), Indian company Hungama, and Schramm Sports & Entertainment. An alumnus of Tufts University, Singh has also been associated with [212]Media, Sportsvite.com, Grace Drive Management Corp, BODVOD Networks, LLC and Bhai Records. On the other hand, a passout of Georgetown University, Shenoy worked with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Simile previously.

In August this year, the company had revealed iits plans to add Bengali and Kannada music to its catalogue, which is yet to happen. Around the same time, the company claimed to have over 10 million unique users worldwide, of whom two-thirds are based in India. It had also mentioned that it was adding half a million new users every month. So it is understandable that the number of users must have increased significantly since then.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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