Digital Music, the African Way
- In one of the highest-profile moves so far, Universal Music Group and Samsung announced this month the creation of The Kleek, a Pan-African digital music service. It features music from Universalâs international catalog and from local artists like the Power Boyz in Angola, DJ Vetkuk in South Africa and W4 in Nigeria.
In December, South Africans were given access to the iTunes digital music store from Apple. Around the same time, one of the leading Internet streaming music services, Deezer, a French company, expanded across much of Africa. And in several countries, including Nigeria, local digital music operations like iRoking have started to attract large numbers of listeners.
âI think thereâs a feeling that letâs give it a try, where before everyone was saying, âIâm just going to sit on my ball and refuse to play,ââ said Simon Dyson, an analyst at Informa, a research company in London.
While digital music now accounts for more than half of the revenue in the music industry in the United States, and is finally making a substantial contribution to the bottom line in Europe and some Asian markets, the challenges remain formidable in Africa, analysts say.
Piracy is rife, with renegade CD factories thriving and street vendors doing a brisk business selling digital memory cards already loaded with the latest hits. Except in South Africa, there is little or no official music-licensing structure across much of sub-Saharan Africa and often no way for musicians and other rights holders to collect revenue from sales or performances of their work. Even in South Africa, digital music still accounts for less than 10 percent of sales, analysts say.