Back in June of 2017, speaking to about 300 artists in Mombasa, Kenya, Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bob Collymore revealed that the mobile operator was going to launch a music streaming service in the following month of July and the platform was to provide a revenue stream for talented artists.

Remember this is not the first time that Safaricom is offering its hand in elevating the plight of musicians. For instance, the carrier is supporting artists with Skiza tunes where artists get paid according to how many times artists use the call-playback service.

“Skiza is great but you need to be able to stream your music. People need to be able to stream and buy your full tracks. That is why we are launching a Safaricom music app where you can put your music for sale. I don’t believe your music should be free, it doesn’t work for me,” Bobby Collymore commented.

Well, last year July came and passed and there was no word from Safaricom on what had happened to the service. Just as we were about to forget about the whole idea of Safaricom launching a music streaming service, the company has sent out invites to the launch of a “Music property that will enhance delivery of music content among its consumers and the public” on the 12 of February 2018.

The Cost Factor

As we wait for Safaricom to unveil their latest service, it is worth noting that music streaming has not been embraced by the general Kenyan public due to two factors; a majority of Kenyans still don’t believe they should pay for music that they can download for free and the issue of mobile data.

The latter being the bigger issue, mobile data prices in Kenya are not the friendliest and the hope is that Safaricom has a plan to either offer subsidized streaming data bundles or some other form of deal that will make it worthy for their consumers to use the service without the service looking like an extra burden, or maybe even the ability to save the songs offline.

We are curious about the payment options as well. It is obvious that the app will support M-Pesa Express, however, it will be great if they could also use airtime to purchase songs like Boom Player does. Also, whether it will be a subscription service or pay per song?

The Competition

The music streaming space in Kenya is not that big, with the few that actually stream using international services like Apple Music and Spotify. Local streaming services such as Mdundo and Transsion’s Boom Player have been gaining momentum but they are still far from becoming, “main stream”. The defacto method of Kenyan getting music has become YouTube, pirated downloads from MP3Skull and asking your friends to send music via Bluetooth.

It will be interesting to see if Safaricom’s “Music property” will be compelling enough to change the ways of the common mwananchi.