Saavn has already launched in six languages, but co-founder Param Singh said English is particularly important. Until now, the company’s real strength was Bollywood music, but he noted that, with 125 million English speakers, India has a big audience for Western music. Meanwhile, Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio have yet to launch there, so if they decide to come to India, Saavn should already have built up a big lead.
The English-language service is launching with more than 250,000 tracks thanks to deals with Sony Music and Universal Music Group. That includes music from Michael Jackson, Shakira, Beyonce, Bob Dylan, Britney Spears, Johnny Cash, Justin Timberlake, Bob Marley, Kanye West, and many others. Singh said that Saavn landed those deals because the labels “have seen the success that we’ve built with Bollywood.”
“We understand the way that music companies and film companies think,” he added. “That differentiates Saavn from many technology music startups. We come from a technology background and a media background. So there is an understanding that is required when you work with these music labels and you’re licensing their content — to be able to make sure that you’re delivering what they need to be comfortable.”
Seventy percent of Saavn’s users are located in India. The company is also looking to build an international audience, Singh said, but again, he thinks there’s a big audience for Western music within India itself.
Saavn English is first launching on the company’s website, and the company plans to add English to its iPhone, Android, and feature phone offerings, as well.