Looks like Dhingana missed out by a couple of months: Music streaming service Saavn has acquired the rights to stream over 133,000 tracks from T-Series catalogue on mobile. It’s competitor Gaana does not have these mobile rights yet.
Saavn listeners could only play songs from T-Series on the website till now. With the current deal, they can stream songs from the company’s mobile app and even cache them for offline listening with a pro subscription.
Hungama was the only music service with the rights to stream songs from the label’s catalogue on mobile till now. According to our sources, it was never exclusive by contract and the exclusivity was only for the VAS rights (think ringtones, call-back tones etc.) of these songs. That being the case, it is strange that T-Series did not make its songs available to other players on mobile till now. From what we have heard, the contract between T-Series and Hungama was up for renewal earlier this year and it was renewed without any changes.
It is not clear if Saavn how much of a minimum guarantee Saavn has had to pay to license content for mobile streaming. We reached out to T-Series to find out more about the deal, but the spokesperson refused to comment.
Update: T-Series sent the following statement from its President Neeraj Kalyan:
“Hungama continues to remain our exclusive partner for Mobile Platforms and this relationship has further strengthened over the years. We are jointly trying to build a conducive environment for the music industry to grow and benefit from the changing paradigm in the music business. Depending on the market dynamics and the way music is consumed, we as a label and Hungama as our distribution partner are open to evaluating new services. The Commercials and terms have to be mutually agreed upon before our content is made available to any new music streaming service.”
It’s About time!
Lack of access to songs from T-series catalogue was considered to be one of the reasons for the demise of Dhingana, which was later acquired by Rdio. There were also complaints about the licensing deals not being standardized. This was one of the supposed reasons for the shut down of Flipkart’s Flyte service.
It is not clear if that aspect of the system has changed even now. That being the case, T-Series opening up the service to more than one operator is a good start. We hope T-Series grants mobile rights to other players too, including Rdio, whenever it starts operations in India. The company should consider moving away from these licensing deals and seriously consider a more open approach for music distribution.