The global leader in music streaming has arrived in South Africa, and is set to shake up the industry, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK .
The final death knell has been sounded for the thousands of iPods still in use in South Africa. Due to the high cost of streaming music via mobile data, many have held onto the one-time standard in storing music that was bought or copied onto a portable device.
That is about to change, as the world leader in music streaming, Spotify, was formally launched in this country yesterday. And it making a big play for the local audience.
“Our product stands for discovery: discovering new music and music you will like,” says Michael Krause, Spotify MD for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We have local and international artists. Local content is so important which is why we made a huge effort to get local artist licensing.”
Krause stresses that Spotify’s arrival would be a boon not only or music lovers, but for the artists as well.
“It will give all the artists access to over 159-million customers, so we hope more South African artists will have great exposure outside the country, and also to local fans who will discover new artists they didn’t know. We hope more artists will be able to make a living off our service.”.
And there is one other massive potential benefit.
“Streaming is a key driver for industry growth in general,” says Krause. “Music streaming really helps to boost markets, even where there was a decline because of digital music. It has changed markets back to growth. These are features we hope to emphasise in South Africa.”
Spotify is available in both a free version, supported by advertising, and a paid version, which will cost R60 a month – as little as half of the $10 price tag in the United States. This positions it at the same price as other major streaming services in South Africa, like Simfy Africa and Google Play Music. As with Simfy, users will be able to download music onto their smartphone when in a Wi-Fi zone, and play it offline when only expensive mobile data is available.
The one fundamental difference to other streaming services, however, is that few users will experience a difference between music available locally and internationally. That means current users who have been “cheating” by signing onto the American service won’t be disadvantaged when they switch.
“All South Africans can simply change the country and payment mechanism so that they can pay the local pricing,” says Claudius Boller, Spotify MD for Middle East and Africa. “The interesting thing is that it’s the same music, so you don’t lose any of your playlist.
“Our standard international offer is live in this market, and there will be more local content available. It’s a very tiny amount of content that may not be available due to licensing rights. We’re a 100% legal service, so we have everything licensed.”
Krause says that Spotify has had the African continent in its sights for a while, but chose South Africa as the continent’s launch pad due to a combination of music culture and better connectivity. Not mentioned in this context is the fact that, because the service currently requires credit or debit cards, Nigeria poses particular challenges. Many online services do not accept credit card from the continent’s largest music market
“Not everyone has a credit card available,” Krause says diplomatically. “Other payment options will come after the first launch. We will make sure we have all payment possibilities so that people have no boundaries.”
Meanwhile, the South African launch coincided with the service going live in three other countries yesterday, namely Israel, Romania and Vietnam.
Spotify is expected to make a similar impact on streaming music in South Africa as Netflix made on the video-on-demand industry. Netflix came into a market that had been gearing up for its arrival, but it still cleaned up, thanks to a vast and fast-growing catalogue of original content.
This still left room for a variety of niche players, like Digital Entertainment on Demand (DEOD), which emphasis extreme and school sports, Kwese Play, with a strong African focus, and Cell C’s black, which fills various gaps in between.
Music streaming, on the other hand, does not lend itself to providers creating their own content, nor to artists providing exclusivity to one outlet – although there are exceptions. This means anyone in the market for a music streaming service is likely to choose only one. Spotify’s free version, along with the large existing fan base for its paid service, means it will be the first stop for most music lovers.
It is also likely to have one other effect that would not be encountered in developed markets. Because of the massive awareness that will spring from local artists punting Spotify to their fans, it will probably create a spike in app usage by South Africans who had migrated to smartphones but remained wary of data use.
In this way, it may well be a catalyst for growth in industries beyond only music.
* The Spotify app can be downloaded via the Android or iOS app stores or on the Web at www.spotify.com. The premium service offers a 30-day free trial.
Spotify facts and figures
Spotify offers the following curated playlists for South Africa:
Top Hits South Africa
New Music Friday SA
Hip Hop Juice
Made in South Africa
The Hip Hop Circle
Sunday Feels Feel Good Look Good
Nine 2 Five
That Party Feeling
City Back 2 Kasi
- Over 159 million active users
- Over 71 million subscription users
- Over 35m tracks in the catalogue
- Over 2 billion playlists available
- Over €8 billion paid to rights holders since launch in October 2008
- Available across 65 markets including South Africa
Spotify Free features:
- Full catalogue access
- Curated, personalised playlists, background play and charts
- Listen to any artist, album or playlist on Android and iPhone handsets
- Access to the full Spotify catalogue on desktop and tablet
- Create playlists and share with friends on Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, text and email.
- On-demand music with no ad interruptions on computer, phone and tablet
- High quality streaming (320kbps)
- Listen offline
- Use Spotify Connect to play Spotify on a connected speaker, TV and car.
Here is 2019’s tech
From AI to flexible displays, this is the tech that will shape 2019, writes CY KIM, MD of LG SA
2018 was incredibly exciting for the technology sector which has seen myriad advancements. These include the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) being established, robots helping around the house and consumer electronic innovations such as TVs that are so thin, they might be mistaken for windows, or paintings.
2019 promises to be another significant year as people’s attitudes are changing and technology becomes embedded in our lives. Smart electronics manufacturers will ensure their plans for the future match evolving consumer needs with suitable technology.
We take a look at the biggest innovations for 2019 from AI to lightning-fast internet speeds and flexible viewing surfaces, and we shed some light on how these evolving technologies will impact on how we live and work.
AI will come of age
AI has experienced a marked increase in investments and according to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are investing in AI while 30% are planning to expand their AI investments in the next three years. It’s estimated that during 2017, venture, corporate and seed investors put about $3.6-billion into AI and machine learning companies.
This investment trend has given rise to innovation in deep learning products that have the potential to change the world for the better.
Yes, AI has been around since the 1950s, but its consumer benefits weren’t visible until recently and 2019 will be the year when AI starts to really take off and become a necessity, not just in the home, but in every facet of our lives.
The potential of AI is endless as this technology goes into everything from small watches to cars and even gigantic, connected smart cities. AI is also starting to find its way into TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, speakers, mobile phones and even air cons as products adapt to human behaviour.
Lightning-fast internet speeds
Faster internet speeds enable quicker response times for business tools that we all rely on to get the job done. It will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.
Given that the so-called gig economy has grown exponentially in recent years, the expectation is that the evolving workforce will contain a higher percentage of employees, or contractors who do not work in a central office.
5G has the potential to change the world the way the internet did a few decades ago. The fifth generation of wireless technology will take internet connectivity to a new level as the internet of things (IoT), will bring about the potential for everything to be connected to everything.
However, 5G is not just about faster internet speeds. It will create new possibilities in numerous sectors, including medicine, transportation and manufacturing.
A smarter world through IoT and AI isn’t possible without 5G’s speed and capacity as the system is able to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, and is therefore crucial to the development of smart cities, autonomous cars and smart homes.
Life-enriching smart technology
Much like technological innovations, consumer habits and preferences are changing drastically when it comes to home appliances and particularly, home entertainment.
Most consumers believe that advancements in home entertainment tech is life-enriching and that their life is better with the latest tech at their fingertips as it allows them to stay indoors and enjoy quality time with friends and family.
The value of home entertainment tech lies in how it allows loved ones to share experiences, thereby bringing them closer together, particularly during big events such as major sporting events and holiday celebrations.
The potential of flexible viewing surfaces will not only change home entertainment, but also marketing techniques in shopping malls, city centres and shop fronts. With the ability to curve around any environment, this technology creates the perfect platform for signage and consumer engagement that stands out from the crowd.
LG Electronics is an established market leader in innovation and has already started to incorporate these futuristic technologies into its products, which are designed to make consumers lives more convenient. We will continue to release amazing products that utilise smart tech to connect with consumers while staying ahead of the evolutionary curve.
AI will power IoT
A simple gesture. A world built from accessible assets that drive human convenience and interaction. This is the future that’s powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), two of the planet’s hottest topic trends right now for a very good reason. They work, says PHATHIZWE MALINGA, managing director of SqwidNet.
They are also the fuel driving digital transformation in 2019. These are the technologies revolutionising performance, process and productivity. They are also transforming industry challenges across agriculture, retail, health and the public sector and are set to continue on this path well into 2019.
IoT has become the central nervous system of technology, allowing users to make intelligent decisions without feeling overwhelmed by choice or technology. Its ability to make life easier on every level – business, consumer, public sector – is the next step of the IoT evolution as it improves quality of life using AI and machine learning to analyse past behaviour and the insights it gleans to change the future.
This is the vision of the perfect IoT and AI future. The two technologies so intertwined and connected that they are influencing one another’s growth, development and adoption. IoT provides the ability to generate data from the changing circumstances of an asset and the infrastructure required to transport that data to where it can be accessed and analysed. Considering the sheer volume of data generated, it is impossible for a human being to analyse it at the speed required for real-time decision making. And this is why AI has become so important.
Today, it is possible to write code that can read the data generated by IoT and identify meaningful patterns at the right speed. This code can also be written in such a way that it can learn from the results it found the last time it ran. It is code that can learn, an algorithm that can self-educate. In this way, AI requires the power of IoT to generate the data it needs to learn and IoT needs AI to ensure that this data can be made meaningful, in time.
Over the next six to 12 months, it is very likely that the potential of IoT will see numerous small players emerge across all industries. They will be focused on servicing those who have yet to experience the full benefits of IoT and they will use technology to deliver solutions that are just ‘good enough’. This could potentially see the more established players being disrupted but most will likely be using the same technology to innovate and to create solutions that don’t just meet customer expectations but transcend them. Of course, there will be some companies that will remain complacent and they will be the ones battling for customer attention out on the IoT playing field with the small, fresh players.
While on the topic of the customer, the next year is likely to introduce a lot more variety and scalability. The consistent drop in the cost of technology will allow for more choice in solution and capability and this will have a knock-on effect with regards to quality of life and the choices customers make when it comes to solution and service provider.
On the business frontier, the growth of IoT and AI offer an interesting bouquet of choices and opportunities. They allow for investment into solutions that generate better insights that, in turn, generate better products and services. Organisations that ignore this potential or think they can sidle on past what IoT and AI bring to the business are likely to be the ones that are left behind. It’s a cliché for a reason. A single look back at the companies that have emerged as big players in industries previously perceived as impenetrable proves the point. Innovation isn’t optional, it’s an essential part of business DNA and both IoT and AI are critical parts of the ability to innovate at speed, with relevance, and on time.