Boomplay expands its deal with Universal as Spotify battle hots up

The deal extends an existing licensing agreement and covers 47 African countries. It comes shortly after Spotify announced it will be expanding in Africa.


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Nigerian music service Boomplay has extended its licensing agreement for Universal Music Group’s global music catalogue to cover 47 countries in Africa as it competes with Spotify for the continent’s streaming crown.

The deal with UMG represents a renewal and expansion of an existing licensing arrangement first signed in 2018 which covers seven African markets.

Lagos-based Boomplay says that it has 50m monthly active users who have access to a library of around 50m tracks. 

The news comes shortly after major competitor Spotify, the world’s most widely used audio streaming service, announced that it is set to launch in 40 African countries this year after being widely inaccessible across the continent. Spotify plans to offer a range of pricing packages to suit local market conditions across Africa. 

UMG, one of the world’s biggest music labels, represents African stars including Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage, South Africa’s Nasty C, and Kenya’s Sauti Sol.

In recent months, it has also ramped up its African efforts, appointing Sipho Dlamini as CEO of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa to oversee all of its operations in English-speaking Africa, strengthening relations with its global partner labels and establishing African imprints of famous label brands such as Def Jam. 

Streaming revenue set to treble

In an interview with African Business magazine in February, Dlamini said that streaming is an increasingly important part of the African music ecosystem. In South Africa alone, streaming should generate around $50.8m in 2022, more than three times what was generated in 2017, according to PwC.

“Streaming is definitely an easier way of reaching a mass audience quickly and that’s why we’re supportive and have done deals with the likes of Boomplay. It opens up our artists and their music to ever-growing audiences, which is key. At Universal we’ve always understood we’ve got to be active and relevant in the ecosystem,” said Dlamini.

Yet the streaming industry is not without its teething problems, and continues to be held back by technological, regulatory and financial hurdles. Regulatory divergence between markets, the prevalence of unbanked customers and local currency fluctuations make it a challenge for streaming services to attract customers and reach scale.

“There’s no doubt that Africa as a whole is going to come to be a very significant market in streaming numbers in years to come, but there’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be done now,” said Dlamini.  

To read an exclusive interview with UMG’s Sipho Dlamini in the March issue of African Business magazine, buy and subscribe here:

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