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Music streaming on the assault on Africa

Cap to the south for Spotify. The Swedish music streaming giant is preparing to launch into nearly 80 new markets this year, in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, but also in Africa. From Niger to Kenya, Guinea-Bissau to Tanzania, or Ghana to Nigeria, it will soon be possible for users from a total of 40 African countries to listen to their favorite tracks on the most used music platform in the world. world.

Until now, only listeners from South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia had access to it. For Alex Norström, Commercial Director at Spotify, “launching into these new markets is a key next step that supports our continued commitment to building a borderless audio ecosystem,” he said during the announcement. official launch of the company in Africa.

“Huge demographic opportunities”

If the largest music streaming platform in the world – in 2020, it had 345 million active listeners per month and more than 155 million paying users – is now interested in the continent, it is because the market is promising. “In French-speaking Africa alone, we can reach 400 million people,” says Franck-Alcide Kacou, Managing Director of Universal Music Africa, which recently signed a license with the main streaming service in Africa, Boomplay. The demographic opportunities are immense on the continent, where the demand for streaming is increasing ”.

“Thanks to the improvement in the standard of living of the population and the development of mobile connectivity, in particular 4G, Africa will become within a few years one of the largest markets in the world in terms of music streaming”, confirms Moussa Soumbounou, founder of the event and music production agency Red Line. With significant economic benefits. In South Africa, the sector is expected to generate around $ 50.8 million in 2022, more than triple the revenue generated in 2017, according to a study by PwC. By 2024, the music streaming revenue in Africa is even expected to show an annual growth rate of 12%, which would allow the market to reach a volume of $ 822 million.

An ecosystem favorable to operators and artists

Forecasts that have already led Apple Music, used by 60 million people across 160 countries, to expand its offer on the continent. Since April 2020, the company has opened up to 25 new African countries, including Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Gabon and Rwanda. Telephone operators, aware of the interest of Africans in music streaming, do not intend to miss the bandwagon. At the end of 2018, MTN acquired Simfy Africa, since renamed MusicTime. Safaricom also offers its customers a digital music offer by including the Songa Music application in its packages. “For several years now, there has been a tendency for operators to integrate music applications on smartphones,” assures Franck-Alcide Kacou. This greatly democratizes the accessibility of Africans to legal downloading of music ”.

A situation which, according to the CEO of Universal Music Africa, also offers “new perspectives to artists on the continent”. “Integrating the music catalog of a streaming company with an international presence allows them to reach new audiences, in Europe, for example, where there is a real craze for African sounds,” he explains. And to receive additional income, while the music industry on the continent remains little industrialized ”. For Moussa Soumbounou, “the development of music streaming is a real opportunity for African artists, used to self-production”. “Creating a more equitable industrial model will bring out future stars,” he hopes.

Remuneration of artists is also an integral part of the strategy of the Waw Muzik platform, based in Abidjan. “The musical know-how is enormous here, but the industry does not or hardly governs them, deplores Jean-Philippe Audoli, its founder. The democratization of the Internet has also led to illegal downloading, and the piracy of works, which are hit hard by local artists ”.

Offers specific to the African market

“To listen to music, most Africans have taken to YouTube,” says Moussa Soumbounou. When you walk in the streets of Abidjan, you meet many young people, portable in hand, with the video corresponding to the song ”. Habits deplored by Phil Choi, director of content and strategy at Boomplay, induced by “the still high cost of Internet and data subscriptions”. The platforms already present in Africa therefore had to adapt. By joining forces with operators, like Waw Muzik with Orange, and by offering very specific offers, adapted to the consumption of Africans.

“In Europe, users most often opt for a monthly subscription. Here, it concerns only 1% of users, maintains Jean-Philippe Audoli. So, I don’t think that just lowering subscription prices, like giants like Spotify do, is really the best option. This is why we offer daily, three-day or weekly passes, integrated into the Orange offer. A strategy also adopted by Boomplay, which provides its users with weekly and daily subscriptions.

Adapting to local content, an imperative

Necessary adaptation efforts that the giants of music streaming will also have to apply to their content. “Adapting your offer according to the regions, and even according to the countries where you set up operations, is a sine qua non,” indicates Franck-Alcide Kacou. Even though it is only a 2.5 hour drive between Abidjan and Lagos, there is a world between the musical tastes of Ivorians and Nigerians. For any industry wishing to settle on the continent, relying on local artists is essential. ”

By approaching Universal Music Africa, it is the choice made by Boomplay. The signing of the agreement with the label allows the music streaming service – established in Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania in particular – “to access a much larger catalog and especially to offer local artists to its French-speaking users”, rejoices Phil Choi. “Listening to the local music scene is one of the keys to success, also thinks Jean-Philippe Audoli. At Waw Muzik, Ivorian artists represent 70% of listenings. A track composed in Yopongon [un quartier d’Abidjan NDLR] can very quickly reach 100,000 plays, and make it much more than a world famous song. ”

However, “the traditional catalog is still put aside by the large platforms, which currently favor urban music”, assures Moussa Soumbounou. To find a place for itself in this market which will become very competitive and convince an audience that goes from all-physical to all-digital, they will have to integrate this cultural dimension into their strategy ”. A guarantee of success also for Phil Choi, thanks to which “a local artist will be able to make a name for himself from the smallest town of Côte d’Ivoire to Kenya, and even outside the continent”.

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