Africa’s digital music 3G streaming expanding

Posted on May 24, 2013 10:49 am

African countries recent advent of third-generation commercial service looks set to boost growth in continent’s digital music industry by as much as 30% before the end of the year with South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya leading the pack. I spoke to an Industry veteran who told me he believe music streaming and downloading will gain momentum and replace the declining ringtone business across the continent. I do concur with his sentiments because high-speed 3G has opened a new window of opportunity for the digital music industry and subsequent downloading and streaming services in the western world where for the first time last years sales surpassed mainstream music sales. Therefore, I do believe African market is following their trendsetters in the western world.Nowadays, it is easier to spot well known entertainers in the continent promoting themselves through social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google + without having to bear the high cost burden of mainstream print and electronic media that for long offered the only route to fame. Digital music streaming is the only open sales channel for African artists and music labels to export their music to the world because since I became a subscriber to some of those sites I have been able to sample some of the best songs from the continent. In addition, the new technologies will also help to attract platforms users away from pirating music through illegal downloads and this will help develop industry in one way or the other. The average age of digital music listeners in Africa is 22 years, although this is set to change as the trend affects older and employed listeners as well as teenagers. Me think that the music streaming industry will be a major contributor to mobile data consumption in both 3G and 4G eras.

The African music industry’s revenue has gone up for the first time in three years, driven by a doubling in music streaming services, while music downloads continued their decline. New figures show a 10 per cent increase in the value of African recorded music in 2012, the first upwards trend the industry’s had in its wholesale figures since 2011. The turnaround has been driven by a continued uptake in digital streaming, which now accounts for 12 per cent of the overall market. While the value of subscription-based digital streaming services, including services doubled, CD sales continued their decline. Digital downloads went up by almost 13 per cent, while CD sales fell 9 per cent, notably less than the 16 per cent decline in 2012.The statistics also showed vinyl sales increased by 14 per cent in 2012.African online services have come under fire from big name artists. A recent analysis in Kenya showed artists get paid $1 per 20 song stream. That money gets to artists via record labels and licensing organisations. In the Nigerian music scene, most artists feel the exposure is worth it, despite the lack of pay per stream. Even if it’s a tiny royalty, it’s probably better than people just downloading it for free said one of the industry expert in the region. More people are hearing the musician or music group, and maybe then more people are liking, and they will buy a ticket and come and see them play live or they might buy a T-shirt, and most artists are making money that way in Africa.Another insider said working out how to maximise that exposure on streaming services was difficult in Africa.It’s great that independent artists can have their music found on a service that also has the biggest artists, that is a fantastic thing that few in Africa would have imagined before.The challenge is how to get opportunities on such streaming services.He added that there is not enough money in it for artists at the moment and thinks when the services are making more money through more subscribers, artists will see the benefit. It will get to a point he believes where it will overtake what the revenue of CD but Africa is quite a way off that.

Contador Harrison