In this piece, Ben Oldfield explores the massive and largely untapped market for music consumption across the continent of Africa as a result of extensive smartphone usage, and how streaming organizations might tailor their services to find success therein.
The African continent represents a massive potential market for music consumption in the streaming era. The sheer volume of smartphone users on the continent could equate to a great additional source of audio streams — outdoing some current usage figures worldwide.
It will be fascinating to see how this economic development becomes a reality. What changes could become influenced by this new listener base? What impact will this change have on musical usage, consumption, and, even, production? The truth is, billions, not just millions, of new consumers could gain access to music across this continent in an easily accessible, legal and monetized form. It’s no longer a dream but more a question of when, rather than if.
However, an entire ecosystem will not be able to enter the marketplace overnight. To build a strong foundation in this market, one of the key factors is understanding their relationship between streaming platforms and telephone companies.
In Africa, Telcos can potentially become the vital funnels for this consumption for a mass market dependent on their supply of data, which can currently only be purchased outside usage bundles for music services locally except for a few models just starting out.
Flexible subscription plans (weekly or daily subscriptions for example) via the Telcos in Africa for the available music services and any new ones will be needed in order to meet local consumer demands. This also implies the need to pass through mobile billing methods, which avoid banking/credit card payments that are currently not a viable reality on the African continent which has been ahead in anticipating the usage of mobile telephone payment systems.
Regardless of these structural challenges, music revenue is still steadily growing and becoming more significant, including YouTube monetization from billions of video views. We work with the available digital music services in Africa, which for those in the higher-wage earnings bracket are becoming a solution to the ongoing piracy issue.
Here, as elsewhere, great sounds from around the globe reach a young population with an appetite for diversity. Local editors put a spotlight on artists and songs that truly represent the reality of musical taste in the continent across various playlists. Pop Music from Senegal Ghana or Kenya can co-exist on young urban playlists with Hip Hop or Reggae Dancehall from across the world or popular Nigerian AfroBeatz. A recent example of this is UK Grime-Afrobeatz collaboration between Skepta and Wizkid.
Other revenue streams for actors in the music ecosystem are also growing. Live Music revenues on the continent are already consequent. Collection and re-distribution of various artist and producer performing and neighboring rights is becoming less of an exception. This is a result of different actors from Publishers to Collecting societies collaborating more effectively locally.
In an effort to understand and participate in this growing music business, it has been a priority for us to be present at many conferences and festivals across the continent. From Ségou in Mali to Cape Town in South Africa to Nairobi in Kenya to Rabat in Morocco to Kampala in Uganda and more, we’ve met with some great musical agitators and entrepreneurs.
For more information on our involvement in the African market find us at one of the upcoming festivals:
Bayimba Festival – Kampala, Uganda
Assamalekoum Festival – Nouakchott, Mauritania
Festival sur le Niger – Segou, Mali
AZGO Festival – Maputo, Mozambique
#MEX18 Musical Exchange – Cape Town, South Africa
Visa For Music – Rabat, Morocco
Access Africa – Nairobi, Kenya
Atlantic Music Expo – Praia, Cap Verde
We look forward to continuing to participate in the growth and spread of the wealth of culture from this incredibly musically rich continent.