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Ringing In A Musical Revolution
Saavn.com is in the process of merging with Jio Music. Singh met Akash Ambani in December 2017, who was impressed with the plans Singh had for Saavn.com
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Third-generation Indian-American Paramdeep Singh took to playing a host of instruments including drums (which he started learning at the ripe age of five), piano, guitar, tabla and harmonium during his childhood days and connected with music of all genres in the US where he grew up. This molded his musical ear which shaped Saavn.com so much that it has now become one of the largest music streaming platforms in this part of the world.
Back in 2002, he started out by setting up a music recording studio, where he would experiment with Indian artists and musicians. But it was also the worst time for the music industry, which was turned upside down with the arrival of file sharing systems like Napster, eventually shrinking the music industry from $60 billion annually to around $10 billion.
It was a frustrating time, but soon Singh approached iTunes, the digital streaming platform of Apple, to provide them with Indian musical content. “We came back to India and we started to liaise with the music industry. At the time everyone was thinking ring tones, but we told them about digital music,” says Singh, Co-founder, Saavn.
“In 2005-8, we ended up having about 80 per cent of all the Indian music that we can get, and we were distributing to Amazon, and ITunes, and so on.”
Indian music, however, has its peculiarities. People don’t just search for names of songs or artists, but they also search for actors who sing the songs, and the films from which the songs are played and so on.
“Apple was just not willing to commit resources for doing that,” says Param. “It was till about 2009 that we had a super-frustrating meeting…and we felt we need to do something ourselves. And that’s when we came up with the idea of launching Saavn.com.”
This was 2010. Soon after launching Saavn, they had a partnership with Google, which accelerated Saavn’s traffic geometrically. Google wanted Saavn to build an app for the Indian audiences, and needed local app developers. Google also introduced Saavn to the original handset manufacturers such as Samsung and Micromax to bundle the apps in their handsets. Within no time, the app was preloaded in many devices introduced through Google, and saw millions of downloads.
Saavn has seen more than 50 million downloads on Google’s Play Store. The website has more than 22 million monthly active users currently. And the platform has launched Artist Originals, a music programme releasing new tracks and albums of South Asian artists. Saavn also has non-music audio content which includes comedy and storytelling, and more.
Fast forward to now, Saavn is in the process of merging with Jio Music. Singh met Akash Ambani in December 2017, who was impressed with the plans Singh had for Saavn.com. Talks of the merger began in late January 2018, and within about 70 days, a pretty complicated merger transaction was closed and announced to the world on March 23.
A new platform, Jio Saavn, is being launched. Singh is setting his sights high for Jio Saavn. Combined, both the platforms have about 25 million monthly active users, but Singh is targeting 100 million users in the next year, and over 300-500 million in about two years.
Singh is now looking to launch video and lyrics, and is also going to start a number of new content initiatives on Jio Saavn. “The Jio partnership has given us a lot of freedom to operate and expand the offering. We have a lot of innovation on the way,” Param tunes out.