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‘Africa’s young population represents future of streaming’

By Adeyemi Adepetun
24 March 2021   |   4:11 am
We have always said we want to meet listeners where they are, no matter where they are. With this expansion, we are going to continue to focus on the curation...


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Phiona Okumu is Spotify Head of Music, Sub-Saharan Africa. Spotify Technology is a Luxembourg-based holding company, which owns Spotify AB, a Swedish audio streaming and media services provider, founded in 2006. The firm has entered Nigeria formally. Okumu, in this interview with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, spoke on the opportunities the streaming business can afford Nigerian artists, creators and listeners.

Why the launch of streaming service in Nigeria and some other countries in Africa now?
We have always said we want to meet listeners where they are, no matter where they are. With this expansion, we are going to continue to focus on the curation and customisation that listeners have come to expect from Spotify. We launched with a service that is made for Nigeria and Africa. Our goal is to be the largest audio streaming platform in the world, and it feels great to know that Nigerian music lovers have longed for our arrival.

As you are aware, a lot goes into launching a product or service of this magnitude. You have to make sure you get it right. A key highlight to our launch in Nigeria was working towards a timeline that helps us bring forth a localized product – as it was not just about launching another service but for bringing an experience that adds value to the industry.

Also, we always want to be 100 per cent legal and fully licensed before we launch in a new market or region. We have agreements in place with all local and international rights holders in the music industry, including major and independent labels, publishers, and collecting societies.

The market will be highly competitive. How will you compare Spotify with its competitors in Nigeria?
Today, we are life in 170 markets and have over 345 million active users across the globe. Our reach makes it possible for us to connect artists and fans – on a scale that has never before existed.

On how we are going to be successful, that is simple. Our powerful, speedy, and easy-to-use app combined with revolutionary discovery features makes Spotify the most popular audio experience platform in the world. Our story is one of an unwavering belief in music access for all, with a powerful audio experience, driven by our industry-leading algorithm-based framework that provides an experience that is unique to every user right from day one. We always think of the artists and the listeners and we are constantly innovating our platform to ensure that we are offering them the audio experience they deserve.

Bearing in mind that Nigerians have been enjoying this same service before now, what is new in what Spotify is bringing to the country?
We are coming into Nigeria with local content that celebrates Africa. We have over 100 expertly-curated playlists including Hot Hits Naija, New Music Friday Naija, Naija Bars, Be Lifted, and more. Our Nigerian listeners will also have access to over 70 million international and local songs, 2.2 million podcasts, and over four billion playlists.

Beyond our vast catalogue, Nigerian music fans can enjoy Spotify for free or upgrade to Spotify Premium for a fee per month.

With your presence in major markets in Africa, what is your expansion strategy for the region?
Our long-term goal is to be available in every market. With this expansion, Spotify is unlocking new growth opportunities for both listeners and creators across Africa to build a borderless audio ecosystem around the world. The African markets that we recently launched in have young populations and they represent the future of streaming. We are excited to soundtrack their lives.

How does Spotify intend to comply with the requirements of personal data localisation in the various African markets?
At Spotify, the privacy and the security of personal data is, and always will be, our highest priority. We are 100 per cent committed to ensuring our users’ privacy and control over the information they share.

What is Spotify doing to check contents that are deemed to be fake news, hate speech, and other negative and harmful materials in Africa?
We believe in maintaining a diversity of voices and content on our platform. However, when we are alerted to hateful content, we will remove it from the platform.

How does the business model work? How do you make money, apart from subscriptions?
Spotify generates revenue from brands who advertise on our free service, and from users who pay for our subscription service. In that sense, both are important for us, and we want to allow users to choose whichever tier works best for them.