When it comes to streaming music services, South Africa’s pretty well covered. But all of the existing offering are subscription based, and any African music in their catalogues tends to be incidental rather than their focus. Which is where Mziiki comes in.
While anyone has been able to download the Mziiki apps or use the service’s web or .mobi sites since it launched in East Africa in 2014, it’s only as of Monday that the service is carrying South African content. To date the content that has been available has focused on genres popular in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana.
Mziiki lets users stream music for free using its website, .mobi site or apps for Android, BlackBerry and iOS. Users who sign up for a free account can download up to 50 songs by default, and can get an additional five for each friend they invite to the service who actually signs up for it. But, users have to listen to an advertisement before each track plays.
The service lists 1,500 artists and more than 30,000 tracks. This makes it far smaller than any other streaming service, but that’s to be expected given its focus on niche genres. South African artists on the service include Benjamin Dube, DJ Qness, Emmy Gee, Mpumi, Xoli M, 2Bad, Cleo Ice Queen, Disco 55, DJ Nova, Infa, Joey, LAVA, Mavilos, Mgarimbe, Neyi and Omega, Papane, Pitch Black Afro, Rexx, Shae Mix, Solly Mahlangu, Spirit of Praise Choir, Vicky Vilakazi, Women in Praise and Zaza.
According to the app’s settings screen it’s able to dynamically adapt to network conditions and adjust the quality of the audio accordingly.
“Mziiki brings you the best all-round mobile listening experience for pan-African and South African music, allowing you to discover, personalise and share your playlists,” says Arun Nagar, CEO of Spice VAS Africa, the company that developed Mziiki.
We’ll have to wait and see whether Mziiki manages to appeal to South African consumers, and whether or not the company can follow in the footsteps of services like Simfy and Deezer by getting mobile operators on board to promote the service and/or offer tie-ins to it.