It’s been a tumultuous year for Indian music streaming service Gaana. First their CEO of five years, Prashan Agarwal quit in March. Next, it changed its entire top management. Entrepreneur Sandeep Lodha took over as Agarwal’s replacement in August – the same month that the company announced it now also had a new COO and CTO.

This past Friday, Indian technology and business website The Morning Context published a story (titled, bluntly, “Nobody wants Gaana“) stating that parent Times Internet has been trying to sell the audio OTT service for the last three months, without success – though it is “already negotiating the sales of two of its bigger properties – TikTok clone MX TakaTak and restaurant discovery platform Dineout”, both of which “are expected to fetch good prices”.

Among the listed reasons as to why nobody’s buying Gaana are stagnant ad and subscription revenues in an overcrowded market where there’s little to differentiate one DSP from another.

The article doesn’t say who Times Internet has been shopping Gaana to, or identity either TakaTak or Dineout’s buyers, and for how much they’re being sold, but it would be fair to assume that the bosses at Gaana read the story. By Friday evening, the streaming service sent out to the press a “blog post” by Lodha in which he shared a “brief update on what we’ve been working on”, which included “optimising our recommendation algorithm, speeding up music playback, and improving our experience”.

As a result of this, Lodha wrote, monthly user retention went up 48% from May to September, listening time and songs streamed per user rose 39% and 36% respectively between May and October, while the average ad revenue per user jumped a healthy 135% during the same period.

Additionally, cost per net added user fell 31% from May to November. To emphasise that it remains ahead of the competition, the press note also cited Google Play store ratings for November when Gaana’s score of 4.5 placed it ahead of JioSaavn, Spotify, and Wynk Music – the three rivals that The Morning Context says have “encroached upon” Gaana’s turf.

However, Lodha’s blog post did not include any absolute numbers so it’s hard to gauge how much of an impact these improvements will have on its bottom line. Plus, notably, the one stat that has stayed unchanged is Gaana’s Monthly Active Users (MAUs), which have been stuck at over 185 million since August 2020.

That the platform, which claims to be India’s leading audio-streaming service with that figure, has been unable to grow in terms of users for over a year now is extremely unusual, considering it was known to brandish impressive leaps in that metric every few months. The Morning Context’s estimation of the exact quantity of Gaana’s MAUs is perhaps the most striking part of their piece – it states that while “it is unclear how Gaana measures its monthly active users, it is an open secret that the real number hasn’t really crossed 60 million”.

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