Safaricom on Monday night unveiled a juggernaut of epic proportions aimed at a piece of the musical pie which Spotify, Apple Music and Mdundo enjoy, with the launch of a new all-inclusive music streaming service called Songa.
“SONGA by Safaricom”, which the company claims offers a repertoire in the range of millions of tracks to consumers, and an additional platform for artistes to sell their music, will be accessible, for a start, as an app on Android mobile devices. It provides one-touch access for music across all major genres, giving subscribers the convenience of listening to their favorite music on their smartphones.
Safaricom pulled out all the stops with a spectacular stylized launch at the freshly opened Tamarind Tree Hotel to the southlands of Nairobi. Guests, ranging from established secular and gospel artists to more nouveau and trendy stars and writers, were treated to an array of cocktails and canapés by the hotel’s poolside. A battery of journalists and photographers were spoiled for choice with who to take shots of; with the likes of Fena Gitu, Juliani, Nameless, Wahu, Habida and Kalekye Mumo underscoring the A-List status that Nairobi’s most profitable company had bestowed on this launch.
All the photos from the launch:
The Songa app, as it would later be revealed, curates, codifies and classifies a vernacular, local and world class international music catalogue with over two million songs from over 400,000 artistes including the works of Sauti Sol, Mercy Masika, Wizkid, Camila Cabello, Usher, Chris Brown, Beyonce and Davido.
“Our aim is to delight our subscribers with a carefully curated world class collection, a fantastic user interface and a smooth streaming experience,” said Sylvia Mulinge, the Director of Consumer Business at Safaricom, who had previously sneaked onto the stage with a group of Sarakasi Dancers, attuned to Kenya’s most popular dance, the Odi.
The theme of the launch was a ‘Musical Journey through the Ages‘, as host Mwalimu Rachel, ventured with the audience into the past, from the 1800s phonograph to 2017. It was a spectacular showcase of musical influences, trends, dance styles and pop culture, blending global and local, and culminating into a ‘What’s Next’, an announcement of the new application.
SONGA by Safaricom offers online and offline play, track and full album downloads, playlist creation and an ability to share links with other subscribers. The service is now available with a free 14-day trial and thereafter customers will be able choose a subscription plan that suit them.
The app has three creative directors, primarily tasked with driving consumer uptake and creating awareness of the platform; these are some of Kenya’s most highly acclaimed artistes – comeback King Nyashinsky, continental powerhouse Sauti Sol and gospel phenomenon Mercy Masika – who each gave stellar performances at the launch.
While Mercy shimmied onto the stage seated on a fireworks, belching out some of her greatest hits which turned the arena into a worship-house, Nyashinski performed ‘Mungu Pekee‘ on a stage suspended above the Hotel pool, after which he released a brand new single ‘Bebi Bebi‘. Sauti Sol then lit things up again sauntering on stage to perform their massive single ‘Melanin‘.
“This is an amazing opportunity for our fans to get our original music and pre-releases. It will be a totally immersive experience and we are excited about it,” said Sauti Sol Manager Marek Fuchs, resplendent in his signature look Ankara suit at the launch.
“Just can’t wait for my fans to hear my next fresh release on Songa by Safaricom. Stand by!” said multi-award artiste Nyashinski, as Mercy Masika termed the platform as truly uplifting with of her my gospel collection.
The service has already concluded agreements with major international and African music labels and aggregators including Sony Music Entertainment, Africori, Africha, Ngoma and Expedia, and is at an advanced stage of negotiation with other labels.
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“In Songa by Safaricom, we see a unique solution that rivals international music applications. Sony Music Entertainment is proud to be associated with this unique product that we believe is well positioned to deliver on its promise to entertain and capture unique moments in our lives,” said Sean Watson, Managing Director, Sony Music Entertainment Africa.
“We see a natural home for our diverse African content here. We love the focus on the latest African hits as well as the timeless catalogues of yesteryears,” said Yoel Kenan, CEO of Africori, one of the largest Africa aggregators.
Safaricom already runs the biggest ring back tunes service in the country, popularly known as Skiza, for its 29 million customers, and last year paid out over KES 1.4 billion in royalties to artistes.