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Indian streaming firm Saavn lands investment from U.S. music mogul Guy Oseary

TechCrunch TechCrunch 15/06/2016 Jon Russell

Saavn, the music streaming service we’ve likened to ‘India’s Spotify’ in the past, has landed a notable strategic investor that could help it unlock more artists and business potential.

The startup, which is headquartered in New York with multiple offices in India, today announced an undisclosed investment from high-profile entertainment industry executive Guy Oseary, the man who manages U2, Madonna, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears and countless other top music acts.

Neither party has revealed how much Israel-born Oseary has invested nor the valuation of Saavn for the deal, but Saavn said that the CEO of Maverick, his talent agency which has grossed over 100 million sales for its artists, has joined as “a partner and investor.”

Nine-year-old Saavn raised a $100 million Series C funding round led by Tiger Global at a $300 million to $400 million valuation last summer, and it claims to have more than 20 million tracks and over 14 million users. While it is primarily focused on India and Indian music, it claims users across 196 million countries — who have the option of paying for a premium membership or using the free ad-supported alternative.

Despite decades in the entertainment business, Oseary isn’t a stranger to tech investments. He founded A-Grade Investments alongside actor Ashton Kutcher and billionaire Ronald Burkle, and together they have put money into the likes of Airbnb, Spotify, Soundcloud, Shazam and Uber. This deal is made in a personal capacity, however.

Oseary praised the potential impact of Saavn’s audience in India for musicians.

“Many artists would love for their music to reach India’s over one billion residents. From the time I’ve been in the music business, that process has always been too complicated; now, through Saavn, it is finally possible to have a true local partner in India that gets it, and will work hand-in-hand with artists and their managers,” he said in a statement.

Saavn CEO Rishi Malhotra said the union with Oseary would bring “unique artist collaborations that weren’t possible before” to the service.

“We’re building original program for Saavn, now we’ll be developing unique content with artists. I can’t say exactly what the format will be right now, but it will developed exclusively or with an exclusive window,” he told TechCrunch in an interview.

On that note, Saavn isn’t just focused on music. The startup announced plans to enter video and other new content when it closed its Series A last year, and its first slate of podcasts were announced in April.

Malhotra further stressed that Saavn is aiming to build a bridge between the music and entertainment industries in India and the West. English language content was traditionally not high on Saavn users’ radars, but today he said it represents 15 percent of content listened to.

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