Simfy continues African expansion with new playlist website

Simfy Africa CEO Davin Mole. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Simfy Africa CEO Davin Mole. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

ON THE heels of its one-year anniversary of entering the South African market, music streaming service Simfy Africa has announced the launch of a new playlist-focused website.

After reaching the one-year mark, Simfy noted that its users had created more than 120,000 playlists, and that an additional website featuring music grouped together by users and professional DJs would appeal to music aficionados and novices alike.

“Music becomes more social and shareable and one can easily draw from the skill of your friends or from curation teams, like our in-house experts, and concentrate on enjoying music rather than having to know everything yourself,” said Simfy Africa CEO Davin Mole.

“When we looked at the power of the playlists, instead of just adding them as an additional list somewhere in the service itself, we decided to create a dedicated site to clearly showcase what is already available and to encourage users to add their own creations,” he said.

The Germany-based website and downloadable application features 20-million tracks from more than 650,000 artists and is available on various mobile platforms and most desktops.

The service has been able to separate itself from similar US offerings such as Spotify and Grooveshark by providing users with legal access to most popular music at a very low bandwidth, easing its expansion into Africa.

“(These services) operate on the assumption that the bandwidth cost is not a factor when people are streaming and even downloading to offline, hence they are not live in Africa and are not live generally in territories with challenging internet environments,” Mr Mole said.

“What we are focusing on at Simfy is to provide a fully legal service that ultimately will support not just the few but rather the vast majority of music lovers in the country.”

Simfy has made a concerted effort to avoid simply transplanting the German model onto South African soil by adding more local artists’ music and expanding the number of platforms on which it is available.

Mr Mole said: “We have made a lot of back-end and in-app changes to improve the functionality for the South African customer and in the next few weeks we will be rolling out a new generation of ‘for Africa’ updates.”

In addition to these updates, Simfy expects soon to announce “ground-breaking” partnerships with South African companies to “further enhance the user experience.”

It has avoided the pitfalls of similar legal and illegal music streaming services in the US by signing commercial agreements with most major labels and some independent ones. Like Spotify, it pays artists on a “per-play” basis, with revenue splits defined in each label contract.

Some artists have come out against these streaming services in general because of low royalty payouts in exchange for access to their entire music catalogues. But, says Mr Mole, he, and many artists, see it a different way.

He said: “What streaming has started to do and, in our opinion, will continue to, is provide an alternative to piracy. So while right now the payouts to artists per listen might be small, as more consumers switch to legit services, each artist on average will receive more and more legal listens and hence in aggregate the payouts will climb.

“Therefore, artists should view streaming as taking back revenue from the piracy sites and not as taking away revenues from their lucrative CD deals, which will disappear at some stage.”

The service, which is free for the first two weeks and then costs R60 a month, started in Germany and spread to Austria, Belgium and Switzerland before expanding to South Africa last August.

Simfy has just signed a deal to expand into three more African countries in the next year, including Nigeria.

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