Indian Streaming Service Saavn Raises Second Round of Funding

(Victorgrigas via Wikimedia)

Indian music streaming service Saavn has raised a fresh round of capital, according to CrunchBase, which puts the Series B round at $4 million, well below the $30-$40 million figure floated last month in the Economic Times. A week-old article at The Next Web says Saavn co-founder Rishi Malhotra confirmed an investment by Hong Kong-based Steadview Capital but said the numbers reported by the Economic Times were "far off" the actual investment.

The service follows a familiar combination of free and paid tiers. The free version is available on smartphones, tablets and web browsers. The paid version, called Saavn Pro, provides offline listening and eliminates advertising. Saavn Pro costs $3.99 per month for woldwide use. A cheaper version, called Saavn Lite, is available only in India and costs about $2 per month. Pro is also available through mobile carrier billing in India for about 8 cents per day, 50 cents per week or $1.80 per month.

Saavn differs from competitors such as Spotify and Beats Music fundamentally -- Indian businesspeople created it specifically for Indian listeners. The top music streaming brands were founded in Western countries and export a product built for Western listeners. Saavn focuses on the particulars of India, a huge market with a mobile market that "can be tricky to navigate, especially for large Western organizations," Saavn co-founder Vinodh Bhat wrote last year in an op-ed for Billboard. Its India-only prices are much lower than subscription prices in Western countries and reflect the relative purchasing power of Indian consumers.

A few Western companies have entered the market. In March, Rdio acquired Indian music service Dhingana for an undisclosed sum. Dhingana had 9 million monthly active users before it closed. Rdio said it will revive the service later this year. The iTunes Music Store launched there in late 2012. However, the bigger names in streaming, Spotify and Deezer, have yet to debut in India.