The music streaming industry has seen impressive growth across the globe, and Kenya has been no exception to this trend. With the emergence of platforms like Spotify, Boomplay, mdundo among other, music enthusiasts in Kenya have gained access to an extensive library of African and international music,. This has effectively revolutionized the way music is consumed and promoted in the country. In an interview with Martha Huro, the Managing Director of Boomplay East Africa, we discussed the journey of Boomplay in Kenya and how it has become a pivotal force in the Kenyan music ecosystem.
Boomplay’s Journey in Kenya
Boomplay started operations in Kenya in 2017, marking the beginning of its transformative journey within the Kenyan music scene. Boomplay is available on both Android and iOS and through the browser too on your laptop or computer. Even if you do not use Boomplay, you probably have heard about it or know someone who uses it. Over the years, the platform has experienced substantial growth in both user base and brand recognition. Currently boasting a monthly active user base of 4.2 million in Kenya, Boomplay has firmly established itself as a key player in the country’s music landscape. The gradual yet steady growth of Boomplay has been shaped by a good understanding of the local market, allowing the platform to adapt and thrive in the Kenyan music industry.
One of the key factors contributing to Boomplay’s success in Kenya is its commitment to understanding and catering to the unique preferences and demands of the Kenyan music market. Martha Huro emphasized the significance of their experienced and knowledgeable team, which has an in-depth understanding of the local music industry’s complexities. “we boast of an experienced, hardworking and very knowledgeable group of staff who have deep understanding of the Kenyan market and its complexities. Thus, we are able to provide solutions to meet the unique needs of the market and also achieve differentiation,” she said. This insight has enabled Boomplay to offer tailored solutions that meet the specific needs of the Kenyan market.
Furthermore, Boomplay has remained true to its vision of unlocking the potential of the music ecosystem, guiding its operations, partnerships, and ambitions throughout its journey. The platform has actively addressed industry challenges by advocating against piracy, prioritizing Kenyan artists, and making music streaming more accessible and affordable through strategic partnerships. An example of this commitment is Boomplay’s partnership with Safaricom, a telecommunications giant, which has played a pivotal role in providing Kenyan music lovers with affordable data and subscription bundles, facilitating easier access to music content.
Empowering Local Kenyan Artists
Boomplay’s impact on the local Kenyan music scene is significant, as it prioritizes and promotes local content within its operational regions. Unlike some other streaming services, Boomplay operates with an open-door policy, serving as a valuable resource for Kenyan artists and their teams. In addition to in-app promotion, the platform utilizes offline promotional assets such as billboards and activation events to amplify Kenyan artists and their music releases.
One notable initiative is the Golden Club, which has spotlighted and promoted the music and achievements of artists like Otile Brown in Kenya and across Africa. These efforts have not only provided artists with exposure but have also contributed to their success.
Boomplay engages with its user base through a combination of online and offline campaigns. Online campaigns, run via the app and social media, encourage specific user activities and competitions, offering incentives like merchandise and streaming subscriptions as rewards. Offline campaigns involve events and activations that connect with users in various settings, including campus events for students.
The Boomplay app itself offers a range of features that enhance the user experience, catering to different segments of their user base. It includes a customized “For You” section, live content monetization, games, social interaction features, trending sections, and interactive opportunities with favorite artists. This multifaceted approach makes Boomplay a comprehensive music ecosystem.
Tackling Challenges and Ensuring Fair Compensation
Challenges such as music piracy and copyright infringement have been prominent in the Kenyan music industry. Boomplay has taken steps to combat these issues, including collaborating with Partners Against Piracy (PAP) to fight piracy in Kenya. The platform employs in-app systems to detect pirated content and owner-rights protection to safeguard content. All content remains on the app, preventing direct consumer downloads.
To ensure fair compensation for artists, Boomplay has licensing agreements with local and international aggregators, distribution platforms, and distributors. These agreements protect content providers and guarantee fair compensation when their content is monetized. Boomplay maintains transparency in its monetization policy, with stream counts visible on the app and accessible monetization reports for distributors.
Collaborations and Partnerships
Boomplay has forged numerous partnerships and collaborations, both locally and externally, that have significantly impacted the Kenyan music scene. Collaborations with organizations like PAP have been instrumental in fighting copyright infringements and piracy in Kenya, supporting the growth of the local music industry. Boomplay’s support and investment in Kenyan artists, such as Nadia Mukami, Khaligraph Jones, Otile Brown, Bahati, and Guardian Angel, have propelled their careers to new heights.
The platform’s partnership with major music labels – Universal, Sony, and Warner – has made their vast catalogs available to users, attracting investments in the local music markets. Additionally, successful partnerships with artists like Nyashinski and Nikita Kering have further strengthened Boomplay’s presence in Kenya.
User Data for Personalization
User data plays a pivotal role in refining the Boomplay platform. The platform’s data-driven AI complements playlist curation and content recommendations, allowing users to discover music that resonates with their emotions and preferences. Charts and searches on the platform reflect user activity and engagement, making Boomplay a valuable resource for advertisers and brands.
Overcoming Challenges and Future Growth
Boomplay has confronted several challenges in the Kenyan market, including illegal music downloads, reluctance to pay for music, high data costs, and a lack of music business education. In response, Boomplay has adopted a freemium model to transition consumers from illegal music consumption to legal and paid consumption, with the aim of making licensed music more accessible.
The platform has also formed strategic partnerships, such as its collaboration with Safaricom, to address high data costs and offer affordable music consumption options. Furthermore, Boomplay has taken steps to promote music business education and professionalism within the Kenyan music industry.
Looking ahead, Boomplay has exciting plans for expansion and innovation in Kenya. While specific initiatives will be revealed in due time, users can anticipate continued improvements to enhance the platform. Boomplay is actively exploring partnerships, including a collaboration with TECNO, to expand its reach and further solidify its presence in Kenya.
The Future of Music Streaming in Kenya and Africa
Martha Huro envisions a bright future for music streaming in Kenya and Africa as a whole. Africa is recognized as an emerging music market with immense potential. To accelerate growth, the industry must address key challenges,. These include improving digital infrastructure, reducing internet costs, and implementing strategic music policies.
With the global spotlight on African music, Boomplay is leading the charge in advancing the African music ecosystem.