MTN recently launched MusicTime, a service where you buy time for music streaming rather than data.
Simfy Africa provides the content platform for the service, and MTN sells streaming bundles for R5 (120 minutes) and R10 (300 minutes).
As you listen to music, a timer counts down. When your minutes run out, you need to top up to continue using the service.
Both bundles are valid for 7 days.
The terms and conditions of the service also specify that the bundles include a set amount of free data for use with MusicTime and Simfy. These limits are 500MB for the 120 minute bundle and 1GB on the 300 minute bundle.
Assuming that MusicTime streams at the same maximum bitrate as Simfy Africa (128-192 kilobits per second), MTN has included more than enough data for the amount of streaming time sold with its bundles.
The question is, how does the price of MTN MusicTime compare to that of existing music streaming services?
The table below lists the basic prices of various services, including the free tiers of Spotify and Deezer, and “data saver” modes which are available.
While this won’t give a complete overview of the data usage, as it does not take into account variable bitrate codecs or overheads, it does give an indication how much more expensive it would be to stream music using a standard data bundle.
For the sake of this comparison, we used the R10 for 300 minutes MusicTime bundle, and MTN’s 3GB monthly data bundle for R299 for the pricing calculations below.
|Service||Price||Bitrate||Data usage for 300 minutes||Offline Mode||Total cost (1,500 mins)|
|Spotify Free – Data Saver||R0||24kbps||53MB||No||R26|
|Spotify Premium – Data Saver||R59.99/month||24kbps||53MB||Yes||R86|
|Spotify Free||R0||96kbps (Normal)||211MB||No||R103|
|Spotify Premium||R59.99/month||96kbps (Normal)||211MB||Yes||R163|
|Google Music||R59.99/month||128kbps (Low)||281MB||Yes||R197|
|Simfy Africa Desktop||R25/month||128kbps||281MB||No||R162|
|Simfy Africa All Access||R60/month||128kbps||281MB||Yes||R197|
|Deezer Free||R0||128kbps (Compact)||281MB||Yes||R137|
Devil is in the details
While Spotify’s free tier with data saver is the cheapest option, keep in mind that this is only true for as long as the “automatic” audio quality option outputs music at 24kbps.
MusicTime may therefore be the cheaper option for mobile usage.
Student discounts on Apple Music and Deezer, and family plan options which are available, were also not taken into account.
If you mostly stream music over a Wi-Fi network, the calculation changes dramatically in favour of unlimited usage streaming services. Even more so if you use the various offline listening options and download music.
Other networks and service providers also have several deals in place for streaming.
Afrihost includes Simfy Africa as part of its Afrihost Plus package, for example, which is R109 per month and includes 500MB of mobile data.
Telkom subscribers have the option of its LIT Music service, which is bundled with all FreeMe data bundles 2GB and greater. It is also available as a standalone purchase.
LIT Music offers between 5GB and 10GB of data for streaming music from supported services.
MusicTime is therefore a compelling option for MTN subscribers who do not have regular access to cheap or free Wi-Fi, and who don’t want their music app to deplete their main data bundle.
For those who stream many hours of music per day and have access to Wi-Fi at work and home, traditional services will offer far better value for money.