Music streaming service Saavn has added operator billing support for its premium service. (Hat tip: Ram) It charges you Rs 5 for a day, Rs 30 for a week and Rs 110 for a month of Pro Lite subscription that can be used to cache up to 3GB of songs for offline listening.
The carrier billing option is available for Vodafone and Airtel connections, but it’s not clear how the operator billing works as as I was able to activate it just by pressing ‘accept’, while Vikas had to enter his mobile number and then an OTP to activate the service. In his case, the transaction was powered by billing aggregator Qubecell that was acquired by Boku in November last year. It’s also not clear why the operator billing option is not available for Saavn Pro.
Saavn had earlier launched a paid subscription service, that had features like offline listening and syncing between multiple devices, in February last year. It then rolled out Saavn Pro Lite that offers offline caching without syncing, in July. With the new update, the company has also increased the amount of tracks you can cache from 1GB to 3GB for those subscribed to Pro Lite. You can stream audio only at a bit rate of 128 Kbps, but you can now cache audio at 320 Kbps via the service.
Saavn competes against Times Internet’s Gaana and Hungama in the streaming space. Gaana+ is priced at Rs 110 per month and is available on iOS and Android. Hungama meanwhile offers a monthly subscription service at Rs 99 (through operator billing) and Rs 110 (through Google Wallet) and it allows unlimited ad-free streaming of full length songs and videos. It also offer various plans to purchase and download songs including a single download (Rs 10 per song), value pack (4 items for Rs 20) and value pack (10 items for Rs 50). Dhingana, a service that was competing with Saavn, also had operator billing support with Idea, but it shut down earlier this month.
Corrigendum: An earlier version of the post incorrectly stated that Gaana+ costs Rs 170 a month.
The catch: The issue with all these services are the listening rights. While you will be able to cache most english songs without any issue, a lot of songs from Indian movies are not available. This is one of the factors that is keeping a lot of people away from the service. Several people I have spoken to, have said that they are not willing to pay for any such a service if they won’t be able to cache the latest Bollywood songs — the very song that are not available for offline listening. Music labels, are you listening?