In the latest sign that the shift to music streaming is accelerating, India’s Saavn announced today it had raised $100 million and now has 14 million users.
The rise of Saavn is also a reminder that the new Apple Music streaming service faces a complex landscape of international challengers that extends well beyond leaders such as Spotify and Deezer as it seeks to establish itself.
While Saavn is less well-known in the West, it has exploded in popularity by focusing primarily on its home country and the Indian diaspora around the world. Founded in 2007, the company is seeing its growth soar as sales of Android handsets in India increase.
The latest funding is Saavn’s third round, and was led by Tiger Global Management. The company said it would use the money for product development, “aggressive customer acquisition,” and investing in its advertising technology.
“Music streaming is at the center of the music industry, and India is one of the most important music economies in the world,” said Rishi Malhotra, chief executive and cofounder of Saavn, in a statement. “With 2 million Androids shipping each week, music is driving data consumption and redefining mobile advertising.”
The company now projects it will have 20 million monthly active users by the end of this year. That compares to Spotify’s 75 million current MAUs, including 20 million paying subscribers. While Saavn does not disclose its paid subscribers, the company said the number had increased 6 times since 2014.
While being an Indian music service might sound like a niche, in fact Saavn has listeners in 150 countries and offers 7 million tracks. And in addition to being one of the leading app downloads for Android phones in India, the company said it plans to launch in August on Windows Phones. Microsoft has said previously it plans to aggressively target India with low-cost phones as it seeks to revive its mobile fortunes.
Saavn is just one of the many, many international streaming services that are seeking to ride the surge from digital downloads to streaming. While the launch of Apple Music is often portrayed as a two-horse race against leader Spotify, in fact the playing field is quite crowded.
In addition to France’s Deezer, there are a host of other big names like Google and Amazon now in the game and chasing global audiences. But these also bump up against well-funded services that more narrowly target local audiences.
Besides Saavn, Yandex recently launched a streaming service aimed at Russian listeners. And, of course, there are a host of streaming services that target the Chinese market.