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Indian streaming service Gaana grows to 185m listeners


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At the start of February this year, Indian music streaming Gaana announced that it had 150 million monthly active users. Now the company has updated that figure to 185 million, having added 35 million listeners in the last six months.

That’s more than 5.8 million a month, which is all the more impressive when you consider that Gaana’s main market is a single country, India. Yet it’s been averaging more new users a month than Spotify, which grew from 271 million to 299 million in the first half of 2020, averaging 4.7 million new users a month.

Gaana’s new milestone was reported by The Economic Times, which is part of the same Times Internet corporate family as the streaming service, and by other Indian media. The reports added that Gaana is currently generating “more than 3.3 billion streams” (no period was given: assuming it’s a month, that’s an average of 17.8 streams per user per month) with 35% of them being of regional music.

More stats: Gaana’s AI recommendations now drive more than 27% of its streams, but the company says that podcasts, livestreams and its recently-launched HotShots short-video feature and app have also been key factors.

“Currently, 80% of all Gaana users are loyalists: i.e. they love the idea of being able to access songs, podcasts and short videos from their favourite artists in a single integrated experience,” said CEO Prashan Agarwal. “We believe this ability to deliver a strong value to entertainment-lovers will help us onboard 250 million new users in the next 12 months.”

We already knew that Gaana was the biggest audio-streaming service in India: a study in February suggested that it had a 30% market share of consumption ahead of JioSaavn’s 24%, with Wynk and Spotify both on 15%. Agarwal has regularly talked up Gaana’s growth ambitions too: recently he suggested that Gaana is aiming for 500 million users in the next three years across music, podcasts and short-video.

Not everything is rosy for Gaana, and more widely for streaming music in India. While the growth in users is rapid, the growth in subscription revenues decelerated from 25.4% in 2018 to 5.3% in 2019, with paying streamers still a tiny proportion of overall listeners. Gaana was also embroiled in a public dispute with Indian label Tips Music in May this year, after licensing-renewal talks broke down in acrimony.

Gaana will also be hoping that the tensions between the Indian and Chinese governments don’t escalate further. Those tensions led to a ban in India on a swathe of apps with Chinese origins, including TikTok.

As a homegrown Indian app, Gaana wasn’t included in that, but Chinese company Tencent led its $115m funding round in early 2018, so if the Indian government turned its attention to Indian apps and companies that Chinese firms own equity stakes in, it might be in the spotlight.

Stuart Dredge

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