Merlin and Indian Streaming Giant JioSaavn Finalize ‘Enhanced Global Music Licensing Partnership’

Phoebe Bridgers
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Indie-music mainstay Merlin has officially “extended and enhanced its existing music licensing partnership with JioSaavn,” one of the most popular music streaming platforms in India.

Nine-year-old Merlin and 14-year-old JioSaavn just recently unveiled their broadened licensing agreement. The newly finalized pact “marks the first renewal between the two parties since regional music streaming service Saavn merged with India’s JioMusic” back in 2018, at which point the Jio Platforms subsidiary adopted its current name.

“The expanded partnership will enable Merlin’s membership to increase their presence in South Asia, and will expand JioSaavn’s catalog offering to its worldwide audience,” the companies’ concise release proceeds, before reiterating that Merlin member labels and rightsholders account “for more than 15% of the global digital music market.”

In a statement, JioSaavn VP of content partnerships Keshav Bhola indicated that his company – which offers access to north of 60 million tracks – will coordinate with Merlin on “impactful initiatives” moving forward, though the release doesn’t disclose what exactly these initiatives will involve.

“We look forward to collaborating with Merlin on impactful initiatives. This is a strategic step to work towards the growth of partners, artists and the music industry in the long term,” said Bhola, who joined the JioSaavn executive roster in March of 2013.

“This endeavour will further build on our commitment to make a positive impact on the music streaming ecosystem. Our audience will now have access to an elevated experience with regard to global music, while artists and musicians from around the world will have a borderless platform for their work,” finished the former Hungama higher-up.

The renewed and expanded Merlin-JioSaavn licensing agreement arrives as a number of companies and professionals are looking to secure a foothold in India’s fast-growing music space.

Back in April of 2020, Facebook spent nearly $6 billion (₹43,574 crore) on a 9.99 percent stake in Jio Platforms, the Reliance Industries-owned technology company behind JioSaavn, JioChat, and other consumer services in India. Then, May of 2020 saw California tech-investment firm Silver Lake as well as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) drop substantial sums to obtain their own interests in Jio Platforms.

Most recently, in terms of noteworthy investments in the Indian music-streaming and entertainment spheres, Chinese conglomerate Tencent in late June of 2021 pumped $40 million into Gaana, another major streaming service in the 1.4 billion-resident nation. Gaana reportedly boasted a $570 million post-investment valuation.

Earlier this year, music streaming and discovery platform Audiomack enlisted former Spotify higher-up Himanshu “Heems” Suri to spearhead its South Asian expansion, while Merlin, after finalizing a licensing deal with Tencent Music in Q4 2020, inked a separate licensing pact with another Tencent-owned streaming service, Joox, in April of 2021.