Apple is expanding the availability of its music streaming service across Africa

Burna Boy is currently one of Africa’s top music stars
Burna Boy is currently one of Africa’s top music stars
Image: AP/Amy Harris/Invision
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Apple Music, previously available in only 13 African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, will now be accessible in 17 additional African countries.

As Apple increasingly pursues digital revenues globally, an expansion across Africa is a nod to changing digital media consumption habits on the continent. Despite the limitations of internet access and costs, there’s growing evidence that more users across the continent are embracing digital services.

As far back as 2015, Nigerians were already consuming more video content on mobile devices than television.  And when adjusted for GDP per capita, four African countries are among the top 20 countries for average revenue per user for consumer e-commerce spending last year.

By being more widely available in Africa, Apple is stealing a march on global rival, Spotify which is available in only five African countries (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia). Yet, Apple Music also faces a formidable rival in Boomplay, a Chinese-owned streaming service available across most of the continent. Partly owned by Transsion Holdings, the China-based top phone maker in Africa, Boomplay comes pre-installed on Transsion phone brands and is thus more widely available by default.

Boomplay is also backed by NetEase, a Chinese internet company that has already built a music streaming service in China boasting 400 million users. Boomplay, which raised a $20 million Series A round last year, also has licensing deals with Universal Music and Warner Music, expanding its catalog to allow users access a vast library of music from international stars, nullifying potential advantages global streaming services might have on the continent.

For African music stars, the availability of more music streaming services locally is a boon for their revenue models. Rampant piracy has previously meant musicians on the continent earn little from actual music sales in local markets and have, instead, relied on live shows and brand endorsements as the major revenue streams. With restrictions on large gatherings in most African cities for the foreseeable future many artists will focus more on maximizing streaming revenue.

For its part, Apple’s expansion across the continent is not an outlier for global digital entertainment services. Netflix has been more widely available on the continent since 2016 and the video streaming service is currently looking to deepen its African user-base with more investment in original content. Chinese social media app TikTok is also making a deliberate play for content makers in Africa for its full roll-out on the continent.

Despite existing gaps in internet connectivity and digital spending, growing interest from global digital players in Africa leans on evidence of the availability of cheaper smartphones as well as an expected population boom in what’s already the world’s youngest continent.

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