Africa: South Africa's Joox Takes On the International Music Streaming Brands With Local Content and Quality Streaming

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(file photo).

Once the biggest thing in town, South African media and entertainment giant Naspers is now playing the unaccustomed role of underdog with digital service. But maybe its launch of music streaming service Joox will do better than the WeChat platform. Russell Southwood spoke to Felicity Mdhluli, Content Manager, JOOX about progress so far.

Naspers launched its music streaming service JOOX in South Africa in 2017. JOOX was launched by Tencent (of which Naspers owns 33%) in 2015 and claims to be the biggest music streaming app in Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In South Africa it is part of Tencent Africa services.

Naspers last import WeChat has struggled to gain traction so why another music streaming service?:"We want to be able to provide quality music streaming services. We want to decrease piracy and increase the availability of local music. We also think JOOX is better suited to creating content."

So how does it go about providing local music?:"There are three of us in the curation team and we're going to be adding a Social Media Manager this year. There's around ten people working on different aspects of the service."

To get JOOX, you download the app either from the Google Play Store or from the Apple Store and it's only available on app. A weekly fixed subscription costs R29.99 (US$2.51) or monthly US$59.99 (US$5.02). If you sign up for auto-renewal, you get three months free. There's also packages providing 3D sound.

It has partnered with various mobile operators for marketing support but there is as yet no free data package. It's working on it and it may happen this year. It has also been using Facebook and Twitter for engagement and "we had a good data giveaway that did well."

It hasn't done an analysis of local vs international content but Mdhluli points out that there is lots of local content on the discovery page and on the playlists and that 65-70% of their streamed chart is local. The December discovery page featured music by Heavy-K, Prince Kaybee, Alan Walker and Black Coffee. It has also launched its first music video featured in the app:"People are excited by having videos in the app."

It has content from Sony, Warner and UMG and also has content from regional aggregators CCA and Africori (just signed). It has done a couple of marketing campaigns directly with artists using "giveaways".

In South Africa, it sees its main three competitors as the international brands: Apple Music, Google Music and Deezer. South Africa has turned out to be an impressively large market for Apple Music.

"People are waking up to a new streaming service and we've done well in a short time. The main things holding back faster growth are music consumption patterns and the extremely high cost of data. There's a real fear among people of using up all their data. People are used to downloading and pirated content but it's taking them time to get used to the idea of streaming. But the more we get out there, the more we grow." She's cagey about giving numbers but says there has been hundreds of thousands of installs and registrations.

Currently the service is only available in South Africa but it is planning to expand into other countries in Africa, "hopefully very soon."

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