Indian Streaming Service Saavn Adds Social Features To Get You Talking About Music

Saavn, the India-focused music streaming service, has launched a big update for its mobile apps today that adds a raft of new social and sharing features.

The service, which Saavn told TechCrunch is nearing 13 million monthly active users, now allows people to follow friends’ profiles, playlists and activity; users can also follow general playlists for updates, as well as artists and celebrity users. When an item you follow is updated, the app pings a notification.

These features are similar to what can be found on global services like Spotify and Rdio (which recently entered India to compete head-on with Saavn), but Saavn has one additional social feature in its locker: comments.

That’s because this update also allows users to tag their friends within songs, playlists and albums. Tagged users can reply with comments that are nested, the idea being that this is a more frictionless way to converse around music than existing features like inboxes, as used on Spotify and others.

saavn social

I’ve been testing this update in the wild for some time, and I think Saavn is onto something.

Cards on the table: I’m a major Spotify junkie; I pay for the service and use it daily. But quite frankly, sharing music with friends there isn’t particularly great. Most people I know don’t even realize they have an inbox, and when I point it out, they struggle to locate it. Chances of them checking the songs I share with them? Low.

Saavn’s tagging feature works much like Facebook, and is a far easier (more logical?) way to get a friend’s attention with a song or playlist. But beyond that, it also allows for conversations which, surprising for this sometime anti-social Brit, I actually enjoyed.

“Music has always been social. A photograph might remind you of something, but music has a way of capturing a moment in life,” Rishi Malhotra, Saavn co-founder and CEO told TechCrunch in a phone interview.

“Lots of us made cassette tapes as kids, and we want to bring that feeling to digital,” Malhotra added. “Music sharing already happens off-platform, but that doesn’t allow a conversation.”

The Saavn CEO pointed out that, in the same way that tagged photographs on social media get considerably more interaction than untagged ones, he expects Saavn’s new social features to increase engagement among users — who can also share songs to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, SMS and email.

This update is the second major social move from Saavn in recent times. The company added tweet-powered radio back in December.

Saavn also shuffled its ranks last year, when Malhotra switched roles with Vinodh Bhat, who is now the company’s president. The firm also hired former Google India executive and startup figure Mahesh Narayanan as its COO in January.