The growth of streaming, and how it contributes to the sub-Saharan music industry.
The past few years have brought drastic changes to Africa’s music scene, and naturally, the world is paying more attention. African music has never been more popular, and one of the biggest contributing factors to this popularity is the increased use of streaming services worldwide, especially in Africa. From last year's report on African countries generating the highest music streaming revenue, something becomes obvious: the growth of the Sub-Saharan African music market is heavily backed by streaming, just as the revenue prospects are climbing higher.
Popular streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Boomplay among others, have pushed African music to the ears of listeners from all parts of the world. This means that thanks to streaming, the barriers to visibility for the best of African music have decreased considerably. With subscribers to streaming platforms increasing annually, it appears that the only way to go is up.
A snapshot of the numbers
According to the IFPI’s 2023 Global Music Report, the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region saw the fastest growth in 2022’s recorded music market. The SSA region experienced a steep increase of 34.7% and was marked by the IFPI as the only region with more than 30% growth, making it the fastest-growing region for recorded music revenues in 2022. Much of this growth was thanks to the streaming revenue figures in South Africa, the SSA region’s largest market. South Africa witnessed incredible growth in 2022, over 31.4% compared to a modest 2.4% growth the previous year.
Statista also reports the projected revenue in Africa’s music streaming market to be US$372.80m in 2023, with an annual growth rate of 8.89%. At this rate, the projected market volume by 2027 is US$524.10m, incredible numbers considering that some of the most popular streaming services were only just introduced to Africa late in the last decade. These reports and figures provide evidence for the fast growth of streaming in the SSA music market, so who or what gets the credit for this incredible growth? Certain factors stand out as major drivers of the increased growth of streaming in the Sub-Saharan African music market.
Africa’s Internet Access
Mobile internet access has rapidly expanded throughout the whole of Africa. This means that more Africans have access to mobile devices and the internet, with countries like Egypt and South Africa recording percentages around 71.9% and 68.2% respectively. African countries have thus found it easier to use streaming services to easily access their favourite genres of music.
Despite this commendable growth, there is still limited internet infrastructure in Africa, especially when compared to regions like Europe and America. This tends to impose limits on the development of streaming in the SSA music market, coupled with financial resource scarcity and a high incidence of unbanked Africans, which limits card payments for streaming services.
Foreign Music-Streaming Platforms
Also noteworthy is the fact that foreign music-streaming service providers like Spotify have gained more interest in the African market, perhaps due to the sheer size of the African population that contributes to their revenue. Spotify, for instance, entered the African market in 2018 through South Africa and has since then recorded over 1.2 billion in terms of hours streamed and 21 million user-generated playlists. It has also expanded its reach into 48 other African countries, all of these achieved within five years.
From these observations, one can say that popular streaming platforms recognize the potential for revenue that the African market holds. As a result, these platforms are increasing their reach and improving access to streaming services in Sub-Saharan and other African regions. This is perhaps to capitalize on Africans’ growing interest in enjoying and broadcasting their unique music to a worldwide audience.
The TikTok Virality
More African artistes are gaining visibility that would have been otherwise difficult because streaming platforms act as a leveller, allowing artistes to reach a global audience. TikTok’s influence cannot be ignored in this regard. This Day, a Nigerian national newspaper reports on how the video-sharing platform has helped many African artists gain worldwide recognition through the viral nature of its videos. Nowadays, once a part of a song is included in a viral video on TikTok, searches and streams suddenly increase for the song on streaming platforms. As such, even though TikTok’s influence on the growth of music streaming in Africa is not as widely discussed, it is undeniable.
The bottom line…
There’s more to African music than the world has already seen, and with the growth of streaming in the Sub-Saharan African market, it can only get better. If limiting factors to the adoption of streaming services are eliminated and more foreign investments are encouraged in the Sub-Saharan African market, the world can expect a revolution set to take the global music industry by storm.