Over the last few years, Chinse owned companies have doubled down on their influence in Africa’s economic, infrastructural, technological and now mobile scene. Transsion Holdings, the Chinese-owned maker of phone brands including Itel, Infinix and Tecno is the leading smartphone seller in Africa ahead of Apple & Samsung.
Africans have gravitated to the low-end, Andriod phones made by Transsion Holdings which fit the lifestyle of a larger part of the society’s population living below the basic income needed to afford more expensive, high-end phones. As it’s mobile devices get more widespread in Africa, the Shenzen-based company in a joint venture with Chinese internet company NetEase has also been building out Boomplay, a music streaming platform based in Africa. NetEase has already built a music streaming service in China boasting 400 million users.
Boomplay’s music streaming and download service launched in 2015, now boasting 36 million users, and over 10 million are from Google Play store, alongside Transsion’s strategy of pre-installing Boomplay on its phones. The service is currently available for Web and Android use. The app, which won the Best African App at the 2017 Apps Africa Awards has opened offices in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania runs a “freemium” model which allows user access an ad-supported version of the service for free as well as a paid ad-free, a premium version which allows users to stream and download songs and videos.
Boomplay’s growth has been tremendous over the past few years attracting the attention of other global streaming services like Spotify and Tidal who both launched in their first African markets this year. But Boomplay seems to be fighting back by signing a multi-year licensing deal with the world’s largest music company, Universal Music Group.
Earlier this year, UMG announced the launch of Universal Music Nigeria, a new division within Western Africa to provide artists with comprehensive opportunities throughout the region and to provide pan-African artists with a platform to reach a more international audience. The deal seems logical for the two big companies, establishing a stronger control on the future of Africa’s music structure. Boomplay will distribute music from UMG’s labels through its streaming platform.
In making the announcement, Universal Music Group, Executive Vice-President, Market Development Adam Granite said, “We’re looking forward to working with Boomplay as we provide our African artists a range of creative, marketing and promotional resources to accelerate their careers within this vibrant and growing music market. This agreement will help UMG artists to reach new audiences, whilst boosting the African streaming experience to benefit both music fans, artists and songwriters.”
An overview of the African Music market by Midia research:
- The recorded music market in sub-Saharan Africa was worth about $300 million in retail terms in 2017. Streaming revenue was $17 million.
- Telcos are the key force in the sub-Saharan African digital music market, including MTN, which generates revenues of around $150 million a year, across 70 million customers
“This partnership extends our reach and makes our artists’ music accessible to millions of African music lovers,” said Ezegozie Eze Jr., General Manager, Universal Music Nigeria, “We are delighted to be the first global music company to partner with Boomplay and look forward to bringing the extraordinary creativity of our artists to as many Africans users as possible.”
This deal only shows the untapped potential of the Nigerian ecosystem that’s been disrupted with prevalent piracy of music but with the new opportunities the internet offers, stricter enforcement of copyright laws to combat digital piracy, and the new generation’s increased appetite for on-demand music consumption we are approaching a new era for Music Business in Africa.