/Indian music streaming giant Gaana reaches 100 million monthly users, expands into video

Indian music streaming giant Gaana reaches 100 million monthly users, expands into video

Gaana, India’s biggest music-streaming service, said today that’s it is introducing videos to its app and offering artists more listeners’ data as it races to attract more users and talent to widen its market dominance.

The eight-year-old service, owned by conglomerate Times Internet, also revealed that it has amassed 100 million monthly active users, up from some 80 million it had stated in December last year. Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal claimed that his app is about 1.4 times bigger than its closest rival in terms of streaming hours.

The first feature, dubbed Gaana Video, will showcase made-for-mobile, vertical videos from India’s top music artists, the company said. Agarwal said the videos will be exclusive to the platform.

The new video offering come as Gaana pushes to differentiate its service from a growing army of rivals. It today competes with Spotify, which launched in India earlier this year, Apple Music, Google’s Play Music and YouTube Music, in addition to other local players such as Airtel’s Wynk and Reliance Jio’s JioSaavn.

Above: Spotify, which entered India in March this year, gained a million new users in three days.

All these services are aggressively priced. While many, including JioSaavn, Airtel Wynk, and Spotify offer a free, ad-supported tier to users, those that serve an ad-free premium service still cost less than $2 a month. If that didn’t make India’s music streaming service landscape tough enough, all these services also largely carry the same set of 40 million tracks.

India has emerged as one of the largest markets for music streaming in recent years. About 150 million users in India regularly access music streaming services, research firm Counterpoint told VentureBeat. In a report (PDF) published earlier this year, Deloitte and recording industry body IMI estimated that the Indian music market generated $130.7 million in revenue in 2017.

To add differentiation to their platforms, music-streaming giants in India are increasingly trying to secure rights to exclusive content such as some tracks from artists, recordings from concerts, and podcasts. Gaana says it has considerably expanded its library of regional songs in recent years with tracks in more than 30 Indic languages. The company also built a voice search assistant to help users find songs. (In India, people search for songs by looking up for names of actors who starred in a movie.) It says about 24% of its users leverage this feature.

Today, Gaana is also launching Artist Dashboard, through which it will help artists identify which songs of theirs are gaining traction. “The data is directly and automatically available for all artists, allowing them to see up-to-date statistics on their consumption, and to better understand how, where, and when their music is being consumed,” the company said.

More challenges

Gaana, which raised $115 million last year from Chinese internet giant Tencent and others, monetizes its platform through ads and a subscription plan. It is not profitable and burns tens of millions of dollars each year in licensing tracks from music labels (this is not unique to Gaana, of course), two people familiar with music app’s finances told VentureBeat.

A significant number of Gaana’s userbase lives in small cities and towns, which curtails the advertising revenue it could generate from these users. Gaana said its usage grew most in these places last year. It did not share how many paying customers it has.

And then there is YouTube, which most users in India gravitate toward when they wish to listen to music, according to Nielsen. YouTube reaches about 250 million users in India, its fastest growing market, each month. India music label T Series, which publishes its music tracks on YouTube, is the biggest channel on the platform globally.