“Africa as a continent is the origin of music. We are really excited to be launching in South Africa now.” Claudius Boller, the Managing Director for The Middle East and Africa. Spotify, the most popular digital music, podcast and video streaming company, finally launched in Africa in March 2018.
Spotify’s plans to get into the African market was picked up last September 2017 by the media radar, when it posted a job opportunity for a Senior Editor/Music Programmer in South Africa. This Swedish company founded in 2008 and currently operating in over 60 countries around the world, brings along a rich and diverse pool of music, which should allow its South African users to delight in a world of blissful entertainment anytime – anywhere. Spotify currently has approximately 159 million monthly active users and 35 million songs on its platform. According to CNN, the launch in South Africa comes as the company anticipates a direct listing of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
If there is any lesson Spotify has learned so far from its already existing markets that will be, “people really want to have access to music at their fingertips” – Mr. Boller and most importantly, people need to feel included in order to tune in and stay tuned. “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” –Verna Myers. In the hopes of revolutionizing the way people listen to music in Africa, Spotify plans to work in close collaboration with “an absolutely brilliant team of local music curators”- Mr. Boller, who will scout through the talent saturated and flourishing South African music scene, for local songs to further enrich and variegate its music and entertainment digital terrace.
However, its debut into the South African market, will be a daunting one considering the fact that, the company will be facing strong competition from similar and rather popular music streaming enterprises like Apple Music and Deezer already operating in the country. Apart from challenges posed by business competitors, this debutant must confront greater problems such as barriers to internet accessibility and poverty. A CNN report earlier this month states in 2017, Research ICT Africa reported, mobile internet data packages — needed to stream music online — remain expensive in South Africa, ranking the country 25th out of 49 African countries. Even though South Africa stands as a mogul in the African economy today, most South Africans (average citizens) might not be in the position to afford such extra luxuries and would prefer to use the free version. A choice which might do more harm than good to Africa’s newlywed, especially in terms of income generation and profit making. In spite of this, Spotify remains confident and hopes, for a start, to tackle these problems by providing data-light functions and offline premium subscriptions to its users. Also a 30-day free trial of Spotify Premium is available to all users. It’s music service can be accessed on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Microsoft Store. It also works on Xbox and PlayStation consoles, TVs, and smart speakers.
Speaking of offline subscriptions, besides the free version of Spotify with shuffle play features, its users have the option of getting the paid premium version which costs 59.99 Rand monthly and features no adverts, offline listening, unlimited skips, high-quality audio and shuffle play. Exact information on whether or not, distinct discount services such as Student Discount (4,99 Euro – 72.38 Rand) and Premium Family (14.99 Euro – 217.42 Rand) will be provided, remains unclear.
Nevertheless, as Africa waits in so much anticipation, to see how well their new entertainer performs on the one hand, and how well Africa will adjust to the world of Spotify on the other hand, it is important for both parties to stay reminded of the fact that ‘it takes two to tango’. Game on Spotify Africa!