The potential significance of Audiomack’s presence in Nigeria

Last week, Audiomack officially expanded operations in Africa, with the opening of its office in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and entertainment capital. The audio streaming platform, which is available in all 54 African countries, has seen increased popularity in Nigeria and has now become one of the foremost mediums for music listening in the country over the last few years. The physical arrival of Audiomack is a positive step, both for a platform looking to strengthen its popularity, and a Nigerian music space that’s still developing.

Since it was founded over eight years ago, accessibility has been Audiomack’s main focus, on both the creative and listener fronts, and that’s a significant reason it’s become more and more dominant amongst Nigerian, even more generally African, listeners. It is widely known that music streaming currently has a low level of adoption in the wider Nigerian populace – subscription and data costs create a fiscal barrier to access – but it’s a trend that’s growing upwards with each day and is only primed to keep going in that direction for the foreseeable future.

In a post-digital world where nearly everything is on-demand, streaming is now the primary means of music consumption, eclipsing physical forms of distribution and outpacing digital sales by several miles. Around the beginning of this millennium, music piracy gained ground amongst an increasingly internet-savvy generation, causing a decline in CD sales and playing an uncanny role in the rise and eventual dominance of music streaming. The same pattern applies to Nigeria, however, we are yet to reach the point where streaming is fully embraced.

Back in the late ‘90s to much of the ‘00s and early ‘10s, the primary mode of music distribution was through the Alaba model, an informal system where dealers paid artists a negotiated price for the rights to mass-produce their singles or albums, in order to market and sell to listeners. This system boomed in an era where CD players and Walkmans were a fixture, but as the internet and mobile phones began to emerge as an integral part of youth culture, listeners turned to blogs that offered free music downloads. With a Google search and several clicks, people could access songs and keep them in their phones at no cost.

Although streaming offers the same allure, the monthly subscription charge affixed to several of the platforms available in Nigeria isn’t appealing to a populace that is finding it difficult to pay for music due to force of habit, especially in a country with a relatively high cost of internet data, where most don’t have disposable income. In line with their goal to provide access to absolutely everyone, Audiomack operates a free, ad-supported tier that allows listeners access to an extensive catalogue of songs that spans genres like hip-hop, afropop, latin pop, reggae and more. This tier also allows for in-app downloads, enabling offline listening when users put off or don’t have internet data.

Audiomack also offers a premium, zero-ads tier which costs N535 ($1.38), but the platform’s popularity has so far been powered by it’s no-cost access, accommodating users who do not have a bank account and/or a debit card to pay the premium charge. By opening its office in Lagos, Audiomack is officially recognising its popularity in these parts, while also investing in the possibility for upward growth in users and premium subscribers.

Audiomack’s physical presence in Lagos could also help in optimising its services. With a dedicated team based here, this boots-on-the-ground approach is now in a better place to observe listener habits and deal with any artist complaints, in order to make real-time tweaks that improve the user’s overall experience. As clear as it is that streaming is here for the long haul, constantly giving users the best experience possible is the only way to guarantee a steady influx of new users, and user retention as well. With more international music platforms looking to expand into Nigeria, and Africa at large, Audiomack’s presence gives it the edge of familiarising itself with the local people and curating accordingly.

In addition, Audiomack’s presence will help in further spotlighting the best talent the region has to offer. Last year, Audiomack launched the Rising Star initiative aimed at discovering and promoting up-and-coming talent across Africa, giving seven of those artists performing spots at last December’s Afrochella festival held in Ghana. With closer ears to the ground, the platform can intensify their efforts in this regard and find more tangible ways to introduce artists to more people, especially during this ongoing pandemic where live performances are limited to virtual spaces.

Audiomack will also look to play an increased part in African music’s global invasion, an agenda the platform seems to identify with. On a larger scale, Audiomack has hosted Davido and Mr Eazi on their Fine Tuned series, which features piano-only renditions of previously released songs, while Burna Boy made a stunning appearance on Trap Symphony, a series which features popular songs performed to the backing of an orchestra. Having set up in Lagos, appearances like these are sure to become regular occurrences in the near future.

Earlier this year, we mentioned that Audiomack is setting itself up for a stronger focus on properly expanding into Africa. Nearly six months later, the platform announced a statement move that puts it in a prime position to fan the flames of our global ambitions, while also strengthening the ground for Nigerian and African artists by encouraging local, legal access to music.

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