By Boniface Nyaga
Published February 20, 2018
A new streaming service aimed at increasing revenue for musicians has been introduced in Kenya.
The service, that is operated by mobile telephony service provider, Safaricom, will launch with a free 14-day trial. Thereafter customers will choose subscription plans ranging from Sh25 (US$0.25) a day, Sh150 (US$15) weekly or Sh499 (US$49.90) on a monthly basis.
The streaming app selects, codifies and classifies a music catalogue of more than two million songs from about 400 000 local and international artists.
“Our aim is to delight our subscribers with a carefully curated world-class collection, a fantastic user interface and a smooth streaming experience,” Sylvia Wairimu Mulinge, Director of consumer Service at Safaricom, says.
Mulinge says the service that is known as Songa has concluded agreements with major African and international labels as well as aggregators including Sony Music Entertainment, Africori, Africha, Ngoma and Expedia. Safaricom said it was also in negotiations with other major labels.
“In Songa by Safaricom, we see a unique solution that rivals international music applications,” Sean Watson, Managing Director of Sony Music Entertainment Africa, says. “Sony Music Entertainment is proud to be associated with this unique product that we believe is well positioned to deliver on its promise to entertain and capture unique moments in our lives.”
To drive consumer uptake and create awareness of the platform, Safaricom has engaged Kenyan artists Nyashinski, Sauti Sol and Mercy Masika, as Songa Creative Directors.
“As a creative director I’ll be able to influence how the app is run from a musician’s as well as an end user’s point of view,” Nyashinski says. “The platform is great and has been a long time coming. Because it’s by Safaricom in association with Radio Africa, it leverages on the huge infrastructure, customer database and financial muscle of both organisations. This means more people can easily access music legally, whether they buy it or stream it.”
Safaricom’s ring-back tone service, Skiza, is already making a huge impact on the music business in Kenya. It is reported to have paid out more than Sh1.4 billion to artists in 2017.
“We always get inquiries from fans who want to buy our music legally but we have lacked the means to service the market,” Masika says. “This platform moves us from the CD era to the digital era and we are excited at the business opportunities it presents.”
“Any platform that helps us get our music to our customers in a transparent way is a plus for our industry,” says pop artist Nameless. “Songa [shall] allow us to monitor sales and we are excited about that. We are still waiting to see how it goes, but we encourage people to get the app and continue supporting Kenyan music.”
A Music in Africa article