BY: Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb Senior News Journalist.

South Africa’s growing internet access and mobile penetration have contributed to the increase in Spotify’s local user numbers.

The audio streaming app, launched locally in March 2018, says South Africans have listened to over 24.5 billion hours of music and podcasts on the platform since inception.

Over the years, it has listed over one million local tracks, with more South African artists joining each month, to become part of a global cohort of over 10 million creators.

Spotify is an audio marketplace for musicians and content creators. It uses a freemium revenue model that offers a free limited, ad-supported streaming service, as well as an unlimited premium service for a subscription fee.

Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Spotify MD for Sub-Saharan Africa, tells ITWeb that SA’s booming internet penetration over the years has immensely boosted Spotify’s local user growth.

SA has seen more than 10% growth in the number of internet users from the pre-pandemic period to the winding down of the lockdowns, to an estimated 40.8 million internet users, according to the SA Social Media Landscape 2022.

“Internet access in SA has improved greatly over the past five years, which has also come in combination with lower data costs, more availability of devices and free internet access in public spaces.

“Secondly, people are more aware of streaming in general and the Spotify brand in particular. Part of this is marketing, but a lot of it is through sharing and word of mouth. People find features they love and want to talk about them.”

SA has a young population, and as the internet has become more affordable and easier to access, this market has become increasingly active online, seeking out products like Spotify, she adds.

Another growth contributor, she points out, is the personalisation aspects of the Spotify app’s algorithm, which allows users to discover new artists that are in line with their tastes.

“Hand-in-hand with this is the fact that our local content catalogue, for both SA and the continent as a whole, has grown exponentially, giving South Africans greater access to the artists they love.

“Spotify provides a global platform for these creators to share their music and podcasts with the world. Our entrance into the market has allowed local artists to grow their audiences and monetise their creativity.”

Spotify has introduced a number of features over the years, with further additions announced during last week’s Stream On event.

These include Blend, which uses Spotify’s personalisation and collaborative playlist tools, to allow users to create shared playlists based on their musical taste match.

Collaborative playlists allow multiple people to add to and build playlists together − allowing them to share music across devices.

Initiatives such as EqualFresh FindsRadar and Glow have helped to market and support local, emerging and underrepresented artists in SA and across the continent, says Muhutu-Remy.

As Spotify marks five years in SA, the streaming service has recorded several milestones. From a music point of view, these include the Amapiano playlist hitting one billion streams on the platform – a major milestone for a relatively new genre of music, she comments.

“A number of South African artists − like Sio, Kabza de Small, AKA and DBN Gogo − have been featured on billboards in New York’s Times Square.

“On the podcast front, we were very proud to launch the Africa Podcast Fund last year, which provided $100 000 in funding to 13 African podcasters.”


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