Africa’s Boomplay is becoming one of the world’s largest music streaming services

Africa’s largest music streaming service just raised $20m to keep Spotify away from its scene.

Boomplay’s droppin’ the bass to the tune of a $20m funding round led by ‘who cares?’ Capital (OK, fine — it was Maison Capital with participation from Seas Capital… see, nobody cared).

The Africa-based music streaming service has grown at a face-melting pace since it first launched in Nigeria back in 2015. Now, with the new Series A tickle it’s looking to hit the road on a little expansion tour to keep its global rivals from encroaching on its turf.

If it seems like the makings of a medieval battle strategy, that’s because it kind of is — and for good measure (music reference).

Own the phones, own the tunes

Boomplay is owned by Transsion Holdings, the China-based top phone maker in Africa, and NetEase, a Chinese internet company that has already built a music streaming service in China with 400m users.

Since 2015, Boomplay has come pre-loaded onto Transsion smartphones — the best selling in Africa — giving it a kick in the pants from the get-go. Now, it boasts around 35m users, 17m of which are active monthly users in Africa.

In other words, it’s one of the biggest streaming services in the world

Until now much of Boomplay’s growth has happened without competition from global giants, but that’s soon to change: This year Spotify and Tidal launched in their first African markets, and Apple Music, while not a huge hit, is already there.

Still, Boomplay has the advantage: it recently agreed to licensing deals with Universal Music and Warner Music catalogs to allow users access to the world’s top artists — something much harder to attain in the African markets for a company like Spotify.

Held up by the indie music scene

According to Phil Choi, Boomplay’s head of international content acquisition, most African artists work on their own or with micro-labels.

With no big structure, companies like Spotify will have to spend a lot of time and money discussing agreements with individual artists.

In other words, if Spotify or Apple Music want to build out an African music catalogue sometime in the next century, there’s going to have to be an acquisition — hint, hint.

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