Executive of worldwide streaming service Saavn has explained why he sees great promise in India for music streaming.

In an interview with Music Ally streaming service and digital distributor Saavn‘s chief executive, Rishi Malhotra, spoke on the streaming market in India and why he feels it shows so much promise.

My way of describing India is that it’s beautifully disorganised. There’s a huge volume of people: 1.3 billion, 1.4 billion people, and 700 million SIM cards active there.

If you look at the stats, in the next three to four years, you’re going to have over 50% of the population in India being under the age of 30. Plus, there’s a huge, rising middle class, and also people are bi and trilingual – and on those languages is English. And that’s fuelling a lot of these changes.

What’s changed? First, the access point. In a typical house in India, maybe there’s one or two, maximum three televisions, but you have three generations living in the home. But now there’s this personal access point: the smartphone.

Second, international now plays a big part: Taylor Swift, Adele, Coldplay, Nick Jonas, One Direction. Everything that is trending in the US is trending in India the moment it trends. For audiences there, English programming used to be sub-1% two years ago. Now it’s approaching 18-19% of our total usage.


As a music company, you don’t want to talk about things like click-through rates. It’s not sexy. But it IS sexy! We serve probably about 300 different advertising clients right now, all major brands, and we are doing on average a 4.5% click through rate on their ads. That’s 50 times better than the normal rates.

When we are streaming music, somebody’s paying for it: either an advertiser, the user themselves, or a subsidy from a carrier data plan. Mad Men is all ad-supported. Seinfeld was ad-supported. Ads support programming: it works!


I want to de-commoditize the fact you can play and manage your music here. There’s tentpole audio programming that we’re bringing to the user base. We’ll always lead with music, but we believe in audio programming and original programming.


The market is a big market of entertainment fanatics that are just going digital now. So competition is great. There will probably be domestic consolidation, and some of them sunsetting. And I think you’ll also see big players – big internet players – enter the market


Two years ago, we said look, we have this diaspora audience so let’s take global rights to Indian content. But let’s just be India’s streaming service: the biggest tree that grows there around the digital ecosystem. And the diaspora will fall into place.

Largely, that’s what’s happened. We are building our Indian user base and engagement, and that is just connecting the diaspora naturally. We are fully focused on India: that’s our market. We’re doing four times the amount of streams on a monthly basis than we were doing two years ago, but this is still just the beginning.

To read the whole interview head over to Music Ally right now where Rishi Malhotra goes further in-depth and talks on the synergy between the rise of mobile phones and streaming in India.