About 98 Percent of Music Content Online Is Pirated, Says Saavn CTO

About 98 Percent of Music Content Online Is Pirated, Says Saavn CTO
Saavn is one of older and better known music streaming sites in India. Launched in 2009, the site, whose name is actually an acronym for South Asian Audio Visual Network, today claims to serve 11 million listeners, with over 3 million music tracks available in 12 languages, including English, Hindi, and other Indian languages. Today, you can access Saavn from the Web, and using apps for Android and iOS.

We caught up with Anurag Gupta, CTO and co-founder of Saavn, to learn how the space has been evolving, and what he sees as the opportunities ahead.

NDTV Gadgets:Could you tell us about the audiences that are streaming content from Saavn? Where do they come from? And what platforms do they use to stream your services?
Anurag Gupta: As far as audiences are concerned a bulk of our traffic almost 60 percent comes from India. And the remaining 40 percent comes in from abroad. Primary markets include, the US, UK, Europe and the Middle East. Also a major chunk of our audience is accessing content from the Android platform, which has been our core forte. In fact around 70 percent content is downloaded on mobile. The rest is via the Internet.


How much impact does piracy have?
Well one needs to understand that music piracy cannot completely go out from the industry. In fact, if you see earlier the Internet was synonymous with piracy. Even now about 98 percent of music content online is pirated. But then there has been a serious change too. People are looking at legit options now to download music, even if there are not a lot of people involved in tackling piracy.

How has music streaming in India evolved?
If you go five years back in time, smartphone were yet to replace feature phones as the choice of the masses, and Android was still taking its first steps in the market globally. In fact, even the iOS platform was virtually not existent in India. As the music streaming industry was emerging, there were around15-20 players in the industry then. Now around 3-4 remain. The rest fizzled out because the concept was not sustainable back then.

But now things are different. Platforms [like Android] have developed, and India has come onto the Internet and mobile platforms heavily in all sectors. And that has pushed both app makers and service providers like us to up the quality of products that are being offered. With music streaming finally reaching to audiences in India the concept is improving.

What is the current working scenario with music labels?
The truth is there has been a major change there. Earlier we would have to go to the labels asking them to promote content on our sites. Since numbers, both revenue wise as well as people visiting the site were not high we couldn't promote them. And that made for very less number of exclusive content to put on the site.

With the improvements in mobile platforms and mobile Internet, labels now have a healthy competition in approaching us to promote their music exclusively on our site. More than that even the music itself is more of a promotional nature now [such as songs from movies], so it makes more sense to promote it on a platform where it would reach out to a large audience.

How have things changed for Saavn since 2009?
We shifted focus from being a B2B company, which just took content from the label and provided it to legal download services, to becoming a B2C company, where we marketed the content directly to the audiences. In fact one of the reasons why things have worked out well for us is that our content acquisition team has had good relations with the labels for a very long time now. Deals with the labels now usually involve a combination of revenue shares and guarantees about how and when the music will be advertised and for how long. It also varies with the label and the language. I think that has been one of the biggest changes.


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Further reading: Android, App Store, Apple, Apps, Google, Internet, Saavn, WAP
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