In the realm of classical music, there’s often talk of its impending decline, particularly with the swift rise and fall of genres in the digital age. However, Faraan Irfan, inspired by his family’s six-decade patronage of classical music, saw an opportunity to breathe new life into the genre through a streaming app—Saarey Music.
Faraan, with a background in telecom and consulting, recognized a gap in online access to quality classical music content during his MBA. Motivated by the vast untapped market of 125 million enthusiasts globally, he, along with a co-founder, embarked on the journey to create Saarey Music. Influential figures like Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan and Ustad Shahbaz Hussain played a pivotal role, urging Faraan to preserve and promote classical music.
The process of digitizing, licensing, and curating a streaming service for Pakistan’s classical music records proved challenging, taking a year before significant progress. Saarey Music secured worldwide rights for 85-90 percent of Pakistan’s classical music, employing a unique business model.
Classical music, especially qawwalis, has experienced a revival globally in recent years, attributed to factors like Coke Studio and the pandemic. Saarey Music comes into the streaming industry at a transformative time, as noted by Goldman Sachs, projecting a doubling of global music revenue by 2023.
Saarey Music operates on an annual licensing fee structure, avoiding reliance on top record labels. Their gross margins, at 91 percent, outshine competitors like Spotify. In India, users willingly pay more than Spotify due to Saarey’s flexible payment model.
Faraan highlighted Saarey Music’s impressive performance metrics, including a user base exceeding 600,000, a low cost per install, and a high conversion rate. Notably, Saarey has played a crucial role in promoting unique artists, like Noor Zehra Kazim, who plays the Sagar Veena, and Ustad Naseeruddin Saami.
Beyond its streaming service, Saarey Music founder Faraan Irfan has launched the ‘Save The Sagar Veena’ initiative, aiming to preserve the unique Pakistani instrument by training apprentices.
As Saarey Music gears up for a 5-million-pound raise, their future plans include introducing features like in-app nazrana to support artists during live performances and enabling listeners to book artists for events. The goal is to give classical music artists visibility and support in ways they’ve never experienced before.