In just one year (2014–15), music streaming subscriptions experienced a growth upwards of 50 percent in the United States alone. CD sales in that time period? Down 17 percent.
The reason is quite simple: most music enthusiasts would rather have an unlimited supply of tunes at the tap of a virtual button than pay for a single CD. Additionally, many music streaming services are available at no cost (albeit with ads). If this sounds like a losing proposition for record labels, that’s because it is.
As music streaming has found a following within the US, its popularity has increased around the world as well. Perhaps there is no place where this is more evident than in Africa, where music lovers and savvy entrepreneurs have fully embraced the evolution that is music streaming.
One way in which Africa’s music streaming market has differentiated itself is the proliferation of streaming startups. As opposed to the US and many other nations, the market is not nearly as saturated, thereby presenting a considerable opportunity for a number of ambitious entrepreneurs to stake their claim in a rapidly expanding market.
Here are five African music streaming startups that are making headlines:
Based out of Johannesburg, South Africa, RadioVybe is a relatively new startup, with sizable potential. Launched in March 2016, founders of the company seek to make their iOS and Android app available on every handset throughout Africa.
The company interweaves streaming music capabilities with social media interaction—an innovative approach that the company hopes will translate to widespread reception and adoption.
To accomplish its goal, RadioVybe leverages the power of social media in three key ways. First, an in-app feed permits users to observe their friends’ oft-visited radio stations, and then navigate to these stations themselves. Second, the app enhances interactivity between the user and radio station, allowing the consumer to post messages to the radio station’s social page(s). Third, the end-user can “connect” with their favorite artist or artists’ social networks and follow their work.
Launched in August 2016, Mozik, the newest startup on the list, is a streaming service based in Mozambique. Focusing its efforts on small-market artists, Mozik presents the opportunity for Mozambican artists to capitalize on their work.
Guerte Geraldo Bambo, founder of Mozik, explains the rationale behind the company’s business model: “With three years of experience, something was clear: the Mozambican music ‘industry’ will never gain relevancy if musicians don’t make money out of their music.”
Bambo claims that around 90 percent of musicians are unable to escape poverty, even if they have an established fan base. It is believed that the undeveloped nature of Mozambique’s mobile networks, limited smartphone availability, and other economic factors greatly inhibit these artists’ ability to make a living.
Understanding these trends, Mozik offers musicians the opportunity to sell their works online. In doing so, Bambo and others hope to further develop the nation’s music industry, establish a means of income for artists, and allow for more widespread distribution of musical works.
Similar to Mozik, Mvelani aims to rectify the disproportionate “play, but no-pay” activity prolific within the African music market. The startup’s mission is to “offer music fans a legitimate service capable of generating for artists the royalties that they deserve.”
In that vein, Mvelani has established a platform that allows artists to participate directly. After creating a Mvelani account, artists are able to upload their songs and make them available to users, at a modest cost.
The startup’s next goal is to develop and launch a mobile app that permits offline streaming. Currently based in the underdeveloped nation of Malawi, the company has plans to expand the popular service to neighboring countries. Nigeria is thought to be the first country, as development planning has reached the final stages.
Launched in 2012, the Kenyan startup Mdundo has experienced remarkable growth. Now available in 17 nations, its business model emphasizes artist collaboration and egalitarian disbursement of profits. To date, this framework has been an enormous success.
Available on the “big three” platforms (iOS, Android, and online), music is available for both streaming and download. Following a series of investments from companies such as seed accelerator and Google partner 88mph, the company was able to enlist an additional 15,000 artists.
The startup now claims over 750,000 users across Africa.
Startup Zimbo Music is a music streaming platform designed to engage local artists in Zimbabwe. Launched in 2014, the site acts as a web portal for artists, who can upload bios, music, and pictures, as well as actively promote their events.
According to sources, the startup has experienced significant growth. The founders, who are artists themselves, are planning to expand into Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. As with Mozik, the minds behind Zimbo Music seek to empower artists. Co-founder Makhosini Mpofu stated, “We had first-hand experience of how hard it is to make name for yourself, grow your fan base and get exposure. A lot of talented artists find it very hard to make it to the big time and get their music out there. We saw the need to breach that gap.”