The African music market is exploding as streaming services become more accessible to a growing youth audience. Will McBain examines its growth across the continent
Africa's music industry is taking off. After exploding on dance floors across the world, Afrobeats--the exciting sound emerging from West Africa--has entered global music's consciousness. Its stars now expect a strong market to develop at home. The market's potential is amplified by Africa's vast youth population and increasing smartphone connectivity. More than 60% of Africans are under 25 years old, and are increasingly taking to music streaming alongside their global counterparts.
The largest player in Africa's nascent music streaming market is Boomplay, a Chinese start-up whose app is pre-installed on Chinese-made Transsion smartphones. Transsion is the second biggest supplier of smartphones in Africa, and Boomplay's growth has mirrored that of the handset. The company says it attracts an additional 2m subscribers each month, signing them up to either an ad-supported free platform or an ad-free platform costing the equivalent of $1.50 per month.
Boomplay has signed licensing deals with major US labels Sony, Warner, and Universal Music, and plans to move into further African markets, as it attempts to secure first mover advantage. Globally dominant streaming giants Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music have a limited presence on the continent, mostly due to the higher prices of their services and a limited specialist African content offering.
Local services on the rise
It's within this ecosystem that local music streaming companies are carving out a role. In Nigeria, where a rapidly growing population surged to 201m last year, smartphone penetration is set to grow to around 60% by 2025, as data costs come down.
"We don't expect the likes of Spotify or Apple Music to come here and do it for us," says Chidi Okeke, the creator of uduX, a new Lagos-based subscription streaming service. "We know our people really love music, and we've been careful to make sure we're actually solving a problem, by designing the platform in a way that the African subscriber would want to have his music available, at a cost they're willing to pay."
For $1.30 a month, uduX claims to be the first domestic service in Nigeria to offer high-quality audio and HD music videos on its app, and curates content for different regions. With over 520 languages spoken in Nigeria, many artists find popularity in...