Music streaming explosion in South Africa

The use of paid music streaming services surged in South Africa in 2023, according to a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

IFPI’s annual Global Music Report found that the broader Sub-Saharan African (SSA) area recorded the biggest growth in music revenues in 2023, for the second year running.

Revenues in the region surged by 24.7%, compared to global growth of 10.2%. A substantial streaming revenue increase of 24.5% was the main driving force in SSA.

South Africa remained the largest market in the region, contributing 77% of the SSA’s revenues, with music revenue growth of 19.9% in 2023.

In addition to impressive region-bound performance, African music has also enjoyed greater appeal and recognition across the world in recent years.

In 2022, South African DJ Black Coffee won the Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album.

Last year, the South African trio of Wouter Kellerman, Zakes Bantwini, and Nomcebo Zikode won the Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance for their song Bayethe.

In 2024, the Grammys introduced a new category for Best African Music Performance, which was won by 22-year-old South African singer Tyla for her hit song Water.

The R&B track features elements of Amapiano, a subgenre of house music that first emerged in South Africa in the mid-2010s.

Sunday Times reports that Water has been streamed 500 million times on Spotify and added to 10 million playlists.

The song’s music video has also racked up over 151 million views on YouTube since October 2023.

This excludes the number of times it was streamed on the YouTube Music service.

Warner Music International president Simon Robson believes that Africa’s music transcends national or global barriers.

“The market itself is still coming from a low base but is showing strong growth,” Robson said.

“There’s an element of helping those internal markets to continue to strengthen and become more material and meanwhile, the export potential of African music is huge.”

Sony Music Africa’s director of repertoire strategy Christel Kayibi said the growth across various African genres was a personal highlight.

“I always wanted there to be more to African music across the world than just Afrobeats,” Kayibi said.

“Obviously Amapiano is becoming well-established on a global stage, but there are other artists and genres ready to step into the spotlight.”

Music streaming options in South Africa

There are six major music streaming services available in South Africa, each of which offers over 100 million songs.

Prices for ad-free subscriptions start from R59.99 per month for regular users and R29.99 for students.

Families or friends can also used shared plans with support for multiple profiles and personal libraries, starting from R89.99 per month.

Many of the most popular options — including Spotify and YouTube Music — also offer free plans with ads and more limited features.

The table below summarises the prices, library sizes, and limits of music streaming plans in South Africa.

Music streaming service comparison
Service Montly price Family plan Library size Limits
YouTube Music R59.99 (R29.99 for students) R89.99 100 million+ Personal library limited to 100,000 tracks
Spotify Premium R64.99 (R34.99 for students) R99.99 100 million+ None
Apple Music R69.99 (R34.99 for students) R110.00 100 million+ Personal library limited to 100,000 tracks
Tidal R69.99 (R34.99 for students) * R109.99 100 million+ Personal library limited to 10,000 tracks
Deezer R79.99 (R35.90 for students) R130.00 120 million+ Personal library limited to 10,000 tracks
Amazon Music Unlimited R208.00 (R113.00 for students) R321.00 100 million+ None
*Tidal doesn’t specify an exact price for students, but says they can receive 50% or higher discounts. We calculated the student subscription fee as 50% of the standard plan.

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Music streaming explosion in South Africa