ARTICLE: Africa’s Digital Sound22/11/2016
Africa’s Digital Sound
Africa’s mobile revolution is in full swing – with over 761 million mobile phones in use across the continent, the number of smartphones set to triple over the next five years, and mobile phones expected to account for one tenth of Africa’s GDP by the end of the decade.
We have witnessed countless innovations developed on the back of the mobile economy in Africa, but one in particular has us sitting up and taking note: music. Music from across the continent is having its day in the sun, artists from across the continent are gracing international stages, and new sounds from Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and various other countries are carving a niche for themselves in the international music scene.
While African music has long been influencing international sounds, the rise of a new, alternative scene has seen several African artists signed to international labels over the last few years. On the continent however, digital providers are racing to develop mobile platforms for music, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity presented by an increasingly young demographic who are listening to pan-African music on the go.
Several days ago, Coke Studio Africa unveiled its new interactive music app intended to enable millions of youth to access music on their phones. At the end of October, Chinese telecom giant Huawei signed contracts with music vendors to accelerate the digitization of African music – the agreements will give Huawei copyright over the new music it distributes. While this significantly broadens the reach and the number of listeners, there is little information at the moment on how the implications on copyright and music ownership.
In 2015, BBC profiled local music platforms across the continent that are creating digital spaces for artists, alternatives for listeners, and combatting piracy; these on-demand startups are being watched closely. The entrance of global players on the scene however, shows that the conversation has escalated to a global one with far-reaching implications. Further to that, the access African musicians and audiences have to the international market through the digital space, such as new listening platforms like Resonate, presents unlimited potential for growth.
Africa’s millennials are fast becoming one of the most coveted target groups for businesses, and nothing demonstrates this better than the digitization of African music, the race to Africa’s ear buds, and the rise of the continent’s digital sound.Read more Read less