Shock news! Streaming music firm says streaming music is amazeballs! But an op-ed piece on Billboard by Saavn CEO Vinodh Bhat is worth reading.
While it’s unsurprisingly bullish about the potential of his own company, it also provides some useful insights into the challenges facing the music industry in India, where Bhat claims that “97% of revenue potential is lost to physical and digital piracy”.
The usual caveat about one pirated download not equalling one lost sale applies here, so the suggestion that $7.8m of revenues are being ‘lost’ to piracy can be taken with a pinch of salt.
But Bhat is far from the only person claiming that India’s 1.2bn population – as well as its diaspora overseas – is rich with potential for music, if the right models can be found to deliver and charge for it.
“IFPI estimates that digital music will account for 90% of India’s sales in 2013, with physical music at just 10%. What the country lacks in physical infrastructure, it’s making up in a rapid progression toward a mobile society,” writes Bhat.
“It would be a huge mistake for the Western music and entertainment industries to ignore India’s potential. Western music currently accounts for 4% of all streams on Saavn, and this is expected to grow to 10% by 2017.”
It’s not quite time to get carried away. Saavn has 10m active users and rival Dhingana had 15m last time it revealed stats – a drop in that 1.2bn ocean. Meanwhile, Google has just shut down its Google Music India service, which let people search for songs and play them from partner sites (including Saavn).
India is an exciting digital-music market offering plenty of lessons to Western rightsholders about mobile-first music. But eating into piracy there is going to be hard work, as elsewhere.