Saumya Tewari

"A mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway": Sneha Mehta, VP, Saavn

Saavn collaborates with Prasoon Joshi to launch a campaign promoting its social sharing feature, with a huge focus on regional markets.

Digital is solving the biggest problem it posed to the music industry, that of piracy, through a host of music apps. Leading the pack in India is Saavn, an India-New York based startup which provides online music streaming service to consumers. After belting out its features in the last campaign, featuring brand ambassador Ranbir Kapoor, in August last year, the company is back in the advertising circuit urging users to 'share their music'.

Saavn, which has recently appointed McCann as its creative agency, has collaborated with creative bigwig Prasoon Joshi and his team at the agency to help drive user engagement. The first campaign called 'They Listen to Me' is a comical series of five spots that promote Saavn's innovative social features: Tag, Chat, Follow and Share. The first spot called 'The Newsroom' features a hyperactive news anchor slugging it out with his panelists only to be calmed down by a Saavn playlist shared by one of the panel members.

"A mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway": Sneha Mehta, VP, Saavn
The campaign has been co-directed by Sneha Mehta, VP and editor-in-chief, and Teddy Stern, creative director, Saavn. The duo has, till now, created and conceptualised all of Saavn's brand campaigns.
"A mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway": Sneha Mehta, VP, Saavn
"A mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway": Sneha Mehta, VP, Saavn
"Our own data and external research show that users love to discover what their friends are listening to, and they love to influence their friends' music discovery with their own music choices. Saavn's new social features, introduced in this ad campaign, empower our listeners to do just that," says Mehta.

While Saavn believes that its platform is for every music lover, its core audience is millennials who are comfortable using mobile for messaging, social, streaming and e-commerce - the same group that's on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Out of its 13 million monthly active users worldwide, 11 million are from India. Its Android app has hit 10-50 million downloads in the Google Play Store, and it claims to be the top Indian music streaming app in the iTunes Store.

Saavn users tend to listen to all genres, from devotional to EDM and ballads to filmi music. However, this campaign is crucial for Saavn as it focusses on the regional markets for the first time. The commercials will be rolled out in Tamil and Telugu as well.

Talking about its focus on regional music, Mehta says, "About 80 per cent of our streams are a mix of Hindi and regional. Within that, there is a huge potential for growth in regional streams, especially considering that some of these regional language groups have the populations of large countries."

As per company data, while the top cities streaming music on Saavn app continue to be Mumbai, Delhi, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Gurgaon, the list also has cities like Kochi, Coimbatore, Secunderabad, Kanpur, Vadodara, Guwahati, Jalandar and Haldwani.

However, for the company, the biggest marketing challenge continues to be educating people about music streaming, especially as an alternative to pirated content.

"We're spreading the word with our ad campaigns, and we believe a mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway," Mehta adds.

Saavn's media plan includes a judicious mix of television and digital marketing with TV for boosting retention, in addition to attracting new listeners.

"A mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway": Sneha Mehta, VP, Saavn
"When Saavn's creative team came to us with the idea of empowering users through Saavn Social, we knew we wanted to deliver something that not only reflects Saavn's unique and progressive brand mentality, but also tells the stories of its users - everyday people who have the power to influence their peers on a daily basis through music," says Prasoon Joshi, CEO and chairman of McCann, APAC Region.

The five ads, that will be aired throughout summer across key networks in India, are titled 'The Wrestlers', 'The Office', 'The Professor', 'The Newsroom' and 'The Dentist'.

For the record, Saavn offers internet radio and on-demand music on both mobile and web in 11 languages. While Saavn is available for free (with ads), users can also opt for a paid subscription of Saavn Pro, ad-free and offline music for Rs. 120 per month (Saavn Lite) and carrier billing (with plans worth Rs. 5 (a day), Rs. 30 (per week) and Rs. 110 (per month).

It directly competes with Times Internet's Gaana and Airtel's Wynk. Some other players operating in this space are US-based music streaming service Rdio and Australian streaming service Guvera.

Hitting the right note?

"A mass shift to streaming and legal listening is underway": Sneha Mehta, VP, Saavn
Rajiv Dingra, founder and CEO, WATConsult, a Dentsu-owned digital agency, finds the ad to be a 'force-fit'. "A half-hearted attempt at creating a spoof," he says.

"It looks like either the agency or the client first came up with the idea of spoofing Arnab Goswami and Times Now, and then added the product to it to make it work. Bad execution on the whole," he notes.

Dingra thinks showing the reverse of a typical news room debate would have created a stronger impact.

"I would have showed Arnab's lookalike asking a question and not debating the answers at all, but instead shaking his head in rhythm. A close-up of his ears revealing the earphone connected to his phone playing Saavn," he says.

Dingra believes that for music apps like Saavn, the major challenge is creating awareness so that they can get enough users using the app each day. In his opinion, Saavn should focus on promoting its freemium model (less heavy on pocket), its diverse catalogue and music as a passion.