Often called the Spotify of Bollywood, music streaming service Saavn is gearing up for its next phase of evolution as it prepares to launch a monthly subscription model this quarter that will allow users to skip ads and cache songs for offline listening. “We are bringing the offline play service as it was the most asked-for feature by our users,” Vinodh Bhat, Saavn’s co-founder and CEO, told BGR India.
Unlike music stores from Nokia and Apple, Saavn won’t allow users to download individual tracks. Instead, it will cache the user’s playlist that can be played without having to connect to the Internet. “We have the license to let users download songs, but we want to preserve the Saavn experience,” Bhat says. “Streaming works for us and our consumers too. Our backend technology ensures that songs don’t stop to buffer despite the user having slow Internet speed, which is also one of the things that differentiates us from our competition.”
Competition for Saavn is increasing with apps like Dhingana, Raaga and more recently launched Gaana, apart from music stores from Nokia, Apple and others. While Bhat says he doesn’t see Saavn competing with music stores, he likes to think of Saavn as the Apple of music streaming services.
Saavn has a music catalogue of 1.1 million tracks, which is much smaller than what Nokia (over 4 million) and Apple iTunes (over 25 million) offer but Bhat remains unfazed. “It is not about how big your catalogue is but about what your users are consuming. It does not help if you add songs that nobody listens to, which is what’s happening with most of them. Saavn has features like radio, recommendations based on history, that exposes users to other tracks,” he reckons.
On the usage side, Saavn claims to have 10.5 million monthly unique users, two-thirds of whom are from India. “Our competitors don’t give out unique user numbers. Our Android and iOS users spend 5 hours listening to music every month on Saavn,” Bhat tells with a sense of pride.
This is just the beginning for Saavn – majority of its users still come from mobile and the company is currently working on bringing the service to every platform imaginable. “There are many things in the works right now. We want Saavn to be available across platforms. Think about automobiles, Google TVs…”