Boomplay Secures $20m Series A Funding but Doubts Still Exist About its True Active Users
Africa’s biggest music streaming platform, Boomplay has scored an important funding round as it continues its quest to solidify its position in Africa.
"Boomplay, a service founded by Transsnet — a joint venture between Chinese phone maker Transsion and Chinese consumer apps giant NetEase — has raised $20 million in outside funding to break into more sub-Saharan countries and continue to build up its database of music tracks" /2— Michael Kimani (@pesa_africa) April 7, 2019
The music app recently raised an impressive $20 million funding in a Series A round led by Maison Capital and Seas Capital. According to Boomplay, the funding round will help the company focus on content acquisition, product optimization and workforce expansion.
“Music has no borders, and we’re committed to providing a rich and high-quality music experience for all users – not just in Africa, but around the world. This investment will help us do just that, by fostering cultural interchange and helping people communicate through the universal language of music,” says Boomplay CEO, Joe He.
Spinlet should be where Boomplay is but u see one thing the Chinese do better than everybody its Execution at Scale— Tope (@sinzubaba) April 7, 2019
Boomplay has come a long way since it debuted in 2015 as a music player on the hyped up Tecno Boom J7. The company is owned by Transsion Holdings and Chinese streaming platform, NetEase. Interestingly, NetEase is the world’s second largest streaming platform with over 400 million users.
Thus, Boomplay is backed by Africa’s biggest phone supplier and the world’s second biggest streaming service. This makes it poised for significant success.
In recent times the company has focused a lot on growing its content pool. Boomplay has been trying to pull its weight as popular streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify begin to target Africa. It has already struck licensing deals with two of the world’s biggest music distribution companies: Warner Music and Universal Music Group.
These deals grant it access to an exclusive pool of musical contents from many of the world’s biggest artists. A few of Africa’s most popular acts like Wizkid and Davido have also signed deals with either of these distribution companies. Boomplay also gets access to their contents without exposing itself to lawsuits since African anti-piracy enforcement is still quite weak.
What’s the Real Number of Boomplay’s Active Users?
Yet Boomplay has a challenge. According to Quartz, Boomplay boasts 44 million active users. But its definition of daily active users puts a serious question mark about its real customer base. The company defines an active user as anyone who logs into the app more than once after first downloading or opening an account.
That definition is rather vague and quite misleading. For one thing, Boomplay comes preinstalled on all recent Transsion Holdings devices. These include Tecno, Infinix and Itel smartphone devices and tablets. As a result, Boomplay’s definition of active users could vaguely mean number of active installs.
Herein lies another problem. As a Pre-installed app, Boomplay cannot be removed. The app can only be disabled.
To PAY— Michael Kimani (@pesa_africa) April 7, 2019
"In the case of Boomplay, that translates not just to adding more users in countries that rank as some of the poorest in the world, but in getting them efficient ways to pay if they do want to do so." /4
This is crucial because the app uses the freemium model. It makes revenue from ads and it also has a subscription service that goes for less than $4 per month.
Thus Boomplay’s definition of active users leaves it open to doubts about how much influence it truly has in the streaming market.
Nevertheless, the company is by far the largest on the continent. And it has been able to successfully grow its local content pool despite the unique challenges on the continent.
How does Boomplay do that when— Yung Mogul™️ 🌹 (@iredumare) April 7, 2019
– songs are equally out for free
– Artiste/Dj performs songs with illegal/free download blogs tag
– users says NGN20 is too much for a track
– users will rather download for free and play with the app than NGN500 monthly subscription
With weak piracy laws and numerous, small record labels, Boomplay has had to work hard to score deals and get local content.
And according to Phil Choi, the company’s head of international content acquisition, this strong pursuit has helped to give the app a huge advantage over other competitors.
“For Spotify or Apple Music to have the kind of African catalog that we have, they will need to go for a long period of time through discussing agreements with many individual artists,” he says.
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