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Safaricom launches 'Songa' music streaming app

A woman dances to music. ILLUSTRATION IMAGE | FILE
A woman dances to music. ILLUSTRATION IMAGE | FILE 

Telecommunications company Safaricom #ticker:SCOM is looking to bite a bigger chunk of the multi-billion shilling music business through a new music streaming service, Songa.

The application launched on Monday evening has a catalogue of 2.5 million songs from 400,000 local and international artists. Songa is an evolution for Safaricom, which has already been a player in the music industry with its Skiza ring back tunes services through which it paid Sh1.4 billion to musicians last year.

“Songa therefore is an additional revenue stream for artistes riding on the success of Skiza,” said the telco yesterday in a statement.

The application is currently only available to android users.

The Apple version is still in development. Revenues from the streaming service will be split between Safaricom, the platform provider and the musicians based on the number of streams that a song gets. Customers will have the option of saving music for offline listening.

Safaricom is offering 14-day trial period following which customers will have their pick from a three-tier subscription model — daily subscription at Sh25, weekly subscription at Sh150 and monthly subscription at Sh499.  Payment will be docked from a user’s airtime.

“The App roadmap is still in the development stage with airtime billing as the only payment option. We will be making decisions on other payment options as we innovate more on this space,” the company said.

The telecom’s entry into this market segment steps up competition for the pre-existing smaller players. International music streaming giants like Spotify and Tidal have so far given East Africa a wide berth, opening the door to a number of regional and local services that have been modestly successful.

These services include Chinese mobile manufacturer Tecno’s Boomplay which comes pre-loaded to phones manufactured after 2015. Mdundo, a local startup, has expanded over the past four years to draw in about 1.5 million monthly users in 37 countries. Recently the company signed an agreement to provide Warner Music Group’s catalogue for streaming in East Africa.

Safaricom also has its own war-chest of music label agreements. The company has inked a deal with Sony Music Entertainment whose catalogue includes Beyonce and Usher. 

The company also has deals with African music companies Africoli and Africha.

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