The Chinese music streaming service Boomplay is sharply increasing the number of subscribers in Africa, supported by the rapid expansion of its parent company’s presence in the smartphone market on the continent.
Boomplay updates its content in cooperation with a major American music company. In addition, rising income levels and widespread use of smartphones in Africa are helping the service penetrate deeper among consumers there.
The Transsnet Group, under the wing of Chinese cellphone maker Transsion Holdings, launched the Boomplay service in Nigeria in West Africa in 2015, offering subscription options – monthly, weekly or daily.
Boomplay has a clear strategy of specializing in the African market and becoming the largest digital music platform on the continent. In addition to offering a large number of African tracks to attract local listeners, Boomplay presents itself as a stage for African musicians to present their work to the whole world.
In March, Boomplay announced an agreement with Universal Music Group of the United States to expand the license of UMG’s catalog on its service from seven to 47 countries in Africa. Newly added countries include South Africa, Africa’s most developed economy, and French-speaking countries like Côte d’Ivoire in the western part of the continent.
Boomplay now has over 50 million monthly active users. Behind the rapid growth of the service lies the widespread use of smartphones produced by Transsion. Phones manufactured by the company in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, under brands such as Tecno, captured a 48.2% share of the African smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2020, far behind, according to research firm IDC. Samsung Electronics of South Korea at 16.1%.
Prices and marketing channels are probably not the only reasons for Transsion’s dominant presence in the African market, as the company has also adopted technologies that meet the needs of African consumers. For its smartphone cameras, for example, the company boasts on its website that it has developed an algorithm to improve the quality of still images and videos of locals by analyzing dark skin tones in its database.
In the context of music streaming services setting up intense competition in Africa, a 28-year-old man in Nigeria said that Boomplay is the most popular among young people and releases a lot of new music.
Spotify from Sweden announced its decision in February to launch its service in 40 African countries, while Apple from the United States made its Apple Music service available in more African countries in 2020. Locally born streaming services such as Mdundo, launched in Kenya in East Africa, are also active, adding fuel to the competition.
The GSM Association, which represents the interests of mobile network operators around the world, predicts that the number of users of mobile Internet telecommunications services will increase to 475 million in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, an annual increase of nearly 10% compared to 272 million in 2019.
A quarter of the world’s population is expected to live in Africa by 2050, due to the continent’s high rate of population growth, according to the United Nations. Young consumers eager to enjoy a variety of music will continue to increase in Africa, unlike an aging Asia. Combined with an explosive spread in the use of smartphones in Africa, the music streaming services market appears to have a lot of room for growth on the continent.
This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It is reposted here as part of the ongoing 36Kr program partnership with Nikkei.