As increasing numbers of innovative online music streaming and download platforms emerge across Africa, local music lovers are rushing to make use of the new services while uptake by diaspora users is also booming as they look for an easy link to African content – Gabriella Mulligan.
Among these new services, Simfy Africa launched in 2012 on the South African market, with a view to creating a “homegrown” African music streaming service facilitating access to popular African music to consumers on the continent.
“Our service is strictly for people who are African based, we are bringing the whole world of music, including of course a deep selection of local music, to Africans who live in Africa,” Davin Mole, chief executive officer (CEO) of Simfy Africa told Appsafrica.
While South Africa’s Spinlet and Nigeria’s iROKING agree that innovative online music services are particularly popular across African markets, both platforms acknowledge a significant number of users in the diaspora visit African music platforms to maintain an easy access link to “home” music. Appsafrica.com also recently reported how Nigeria’s SOLO are offering content-focused mobile devices in Nigeria.
“We have seen an uptake of users within Africa and a surprising number of users in the UK and US, these are diaspora populations that want access to the local content,” Bradley Shaw of Spinlet said.
“The majority of our traffic for iROKING is local to Nigeria and West Africa. We do have traffic from the West – the US, UK and Canada, amongst other countries where there are lots of Diasporans living, but iROKING is a predominantly African service,” Jason Njoku said.
From the side of African artists, new online distribution channels also provide an opportunity to expand their reach to international audiences, and as such support the African music industry.
“It’s all about having a formal, legal, easily accessible to the public platform. You could be making the best music in the world, but if no-one can find it, stream it, buy it, then how can you make a dent in the wider industry? You can’t. Online streaming has brought Afrobeats to a far wider audience over the past few years,” said Njoku.
“Spinlet certainly allows African artists to reach out to international audiences, this is clear with the streaming and download purchases from diaspora populations living outside of Africa. We also support artists and promote their music via our social media outlets, which all have a diverse international following,” Shaw said.
According to Spinlet and iROKING online streaming and download services mark the future of music in Africa, particularly when these services are optimized for mobile devices – uptake of which continues to boom across the continent.
“You’ll be able to chart the rise of iROKING with the rise of the mobile phone in Africa. In 2020, 600 million people will have access to a smartphone – it’s far easier for an artists to upload their music online, stream and distribute it internationally, not just across Africa, than it is to rely on traditional hard copy pressing and distribution,” Njoku said.
“ We have found that a significant number of our users visit and purchase on the site via their mobile devices. We think this underscores the point that mobile is definitely the future of content distribution, not just music but all forms of content,” Shaw said.
While the companies predict mobile streaming and download will be the future of music in Africa, all concede infrastructure concerns and issues surrounding internet speeds and data costs do hamper the growth of online music in Africa.
“With the growing shift to an on-demand content delivery system for virtually all entertainment formats, the future of music distribution looks very much like mobile for now. Streaming may not immediately be the preferred model for Africa, at least not while mobile internet speeds are epileptic, but that is likely to change as mobile infrastructure improves,” Shaw said.
“In overall terms, the cost of internet is having a large impact because consumers are fearful of the cost of the data and hence tend to be cautious or they are simply priced out. That said, things are changing for the better and we are working hard to maximise the value of the data being consumed when using our service,” said Mole.