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What does Spotify’s Entry Mean for Nigeria?

February 26, 2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Written by Tolu Okunade

Spotify might just be the tool for ensuring local artists music travel overseas without visas. 

Global music streaming pioneer, Spotify has launched in Nigeria in its biggest expansion ever. It has also expanded to 85 new markets across Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, and Latin America thus, establishing footprints in a total of 180 markets.

Being its largest expansion so far, this means the platform will now be accessible to more than half of the world, thereby adding 36 new languages to the existing 24. Put together, the 85 new Spotify markets represent more than a billion people — a massive new untapped audience for Spotify that has grown to more than 345 million monthly active users and over 155 million paid subscribers globally. As earlier stated, this is Spotify’s largest expansion to date — it’s currently available in 93 countries, which took 12 years — and essentially makes it a global service.

By capturing 41 new African countries, including markets like Kenya and Ghana, more Africans can now access free and premium Spotify plans to enjoy their favourite songs and podcasts on the platform. This was however not always the case. For the longest time, Spotify was without a presence on the African Continent.

 However, this changed in 2018 when they landed in Africa and to the shock of everyone, they chose South Africa as the first market to set up roots over Nigeria – The Music Capital of the Continent. At this time, African Music, particularly Afro Beats was being exported globally thanks to Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and a few others. Nigeria was home to that sound with the originator being the Late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Plus, Nigeria had 200 million people — A huge chunk of this figure being young people. Launching in the nation first would have increased their number of active users immensely. So, it only seemed like the right thing to do was to tap into that market. 

So why exactly did Spotify avoid the Nigerian Market until now? Well, there are some reasons. First, would be the poor mentality Nigerians have towards paying for items. The economy was already in the middle of a meltdown and the minimum wage was only 18,000 naira at the time. Why then would a music user pay for their music when the could easily get it to download for free on music websites, howbeit illegal?

Also, since the songs listened to on Spotify is owned by record labels, the platform only sells that music content belonging to the record label to users in exchange for subscription costs and advertisement. However, the record labels determine what countries their music can be played in via Spotify. By hopping on this train of thought, it can be surmised that Spotify was not available in Nigeria yet because they had not acquired sufficient rights they need from record labels to provide all the great songs Nigeria will like that will guarantee them enough users in the region to make commercially viable sense for them to make enough money via local ads in Nigeria.

What does this expansion mean for Nigeria?

To begin, it would mean more global awareness for local artists. As earlier stated, Nigeria is the musical capital of the continent and has a lot of superstars. Adding their catalogue to a global streaming platform would mean more exposure for their sound, giving their music wings to fly without borders.  

Another thing is that it would encourage users to pay more for their musical experience. Spotify for emerging markets comes with a free mobile subscription plan and access to on-demand songs initially available only to paid subscribers. This would push subscribers to go for the latter. It equally offers a lower pricing range compared to the US markets. It will offer be offering both Free and Premium plans. Individual, Family, Duo, and Student Spotify plans will be available in select markets. Listeners in new markets will get to access Spotify on mobile apps and in the browser. Apps for TV, consoles, speakers, wearables, and cars will be launched in the coming months. For users in Nigeria, the standard Premium monthly subscription goes for ₦900 ($2.19), the Family plan would cost ₦1400 ($3.40), while the Student plan would go for as low as ₦450 ($1.09). This is quite affordable compared to the US where it is $9.99, $14.99, and $4.99 respectively. Their global music catalogue will be available in all-new 85 markets, and it will work with the local rights holder to add more local offerings.

However, there are also growing concerns as regards the low rate of internet connectivity in the nation that would hamper a seamless user experience. Since Spotify is essentially a streaming service, it would require an excellent network service that Nigeria still battles with. Spotify is coming to the African market to compete with other global streaming platforms like Audiomack, Apple Music, Boomplay, MusicTime, Youtube Music and Deezer. The challenge remains that all these platforms may be left to scramble for a fraction of the population that can access streaming services. So even though Africa is taking up relatively high smartphone traffic, Internet penetration is still low.  

Following this expansion, the company will also introduce new features and upgrade its podcast catalogue to fit into the new markets. It is now arguably the largest music streaming platform in the world. As of Q3 2020, Spotify had about 144 million paid subscribers, according to Statista.

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