The South African Music Technology


TechInAfrica – The global mode stars like Cassper Nyovest, Micasa, Mafikizolo, AKA and Black Coffee brings the clear picture of how the music industry has been in South Africa (SA). Music in South Africa has always been conscious, provocative and of great melody. That is when we trace it back to the days when there were singing protesters during the Apartheid days to the golden generation of Brenda Fassie. Having the most developed economy in Africa SA is always the first stopping point of the latest technology apart from being the touch-point for large international firms. As far as technology and music are concerned, all the gurus are already in SA. That is the likes of Apple’s Music, Deezer, Google Play Music and Spongy that launched in the country in March 2018.

Photo by Gavin Whitner via

We decided to have a close tab on the music tech ecosystem in the country as an introduction to the intersection of technology and music in SA. The South African streaming company PaaS, and NicheStream charges a total of $3k to let anyone possess their own 10,000 strong streaming service.

Developers incurred a total of $3,642 to come up with Sunkambe. This is a music investment platform in South Africa that allows artists are recording time, crowdfund albums among other things. In 2016 music streaming generated revenue worth $7.555 million to the South African economy. Vodacom launched Ring Back Tones (RBT) in 2009 in South Africa and other emerging markets.

In 1988 Shaka Zulu of Ladysmith Black Mambazo emerged the winner of the Grammy of Best Traditional Folk Album. The Compact Disk introduced changing music forever in SA in 1982. The music revolution in the country started in 1955 when the first ever multi-track deck was developed. It gave musicians a chance to record different part of a song in different times.

Around all the telcos in SA either have some music streaming play or the other. In 2016 MTN generated revenue worth $70 million from the distribution of music across Africa. Both Telkom and Vodacom have their music platforms while Cell C has its entertainment platform referred to as Black. The number of music streaming subscribers is expected to hit 5.3 million in SA by 2022. The number is almost 10% of the population in the country.

NicheStream is a startup that operates a site as a service business that allows organizations, brands, labels and everyone to launch and run their streaming services. Media group Media24 based in South Africa bought 10% of stake in NicheStream in 2017. According to the founder of NicheStream, Catherine Luckhoff, mass market streaming services like Apple Music offers almost the same catalogs with the same features for nearly the same prices. In short, they put up the competition to win the same user. She added that for her company its strong point lies on the space where culture and music are linked hence focusing on the culturally essential streams for the market that are not adequately served by the existing AYCE (all-you-can-eat) players. SunKambe allows artists to crowdfund the recording and distribution of an album in exchange of allowing investors to share their royalties. The startup generates income by charging a commission of 15% on all the raised funds. It was shortlisted to pitch for Startup Garden at the Seedstars World Summit in Lausanne Switzerland. is an adverting site for the music sector offering media buying, essential ad services among others.

There are also other vital players and development in the South African music industry. For instance, Tencent and Naspers launched the Joox streaming app in the country in 2017 which was first marketed outside Asia. Plans are also underway to launch music streaming service by Huawei in the country before the end of 2018. Substantial Western record brands such as Sony Music and Universal Music Group have also put up a shop in the country besides coming with the advanced technological studio from their markets. Innovation in music technology has not taken off locally in the country, but there are those who are out to give it a try. Good examples of startups that have given a try for the innovation without succeeding are the likes of AudiVroom,, and Breakers. The good thing is that there is reasonable activity going on in South Africa and we will be keeping a close tab to ensure that our readers are updated.


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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
Denis the Tech guru

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