After years of using a VPN to access the music platform, Kenyans will be glad the company is finally setting up access locally. Spotify has announced plans to expand to 80+ new countries in the coming weeks. Among the new countries we have: Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan and more.

According to, the company has been doing app tests with a section of users in Kenya and Tanzania over the past few weeks. This is probably because they may want to integrate local payment procedures – especially for the two markets that rely heavily on M-Pesa.

Kenya and Tanzania also have a really huge and vibrant music scene, and having local artistes on board will be quite important for a serious uptake.

Remember, Spotify is a “freemium” platform. So there’s both users who pay and those who don’t. Those who pay for Spotify Premium DON’T get any interruptions in form of adverts, or restrictions in skipping songs, and much more. Those who use the Spotify Free version can access music, and listen to it free of charge with ads, and other restrictions.

I’ll assume that during the testing phase, the company has not only been building up on a library of local content, but also improving the ads people will see. In such a market, most Kenyans will want to use the free version, so Spotify will definitely be looking to cash-in on that.

For years people have clamoured for Spotify to be available locally. The platform, according to many, has really good algorithms, that curate really good playlists according to different users’ tastes. It will be interesting to see whether the hype around the product will translate to good uptake once it is officially available locally.

The market already has quite a number of music streaming apps. While most people are yet to take up music streaming – still preferring to illegally download content – that will definitely be the path for new listeners going forward, so there’s a really huge market to compete for.

I would say Boomplay is currently the biggest music streaming platform in East Africa. Recently, when Apple Music slashed prices by 50%, I attributed that slash to competition from Boomplay – which offers so much more local content compared to Apple Music, has endorsement from many local artists, and also brings a social aspect to the app that many other streaming platforms don’t. Although Boomplay can’t compete with Apple Music’s universal library, it has a much bigger bookshelf of local content, and allows for different, much more accessible payment options.

It will be interesting to see whether Spotify with its free version will be able to attract more listeners than Boomplay already does. And whether or not existing music streaming apps will change tact with Spotify now joining the race. Will we now see more “freemium” music streaming platforms? And how will this affect creators who need to be paid well for their work?

It will also be interesting to see how Spotify prices the Premium tier and how many months they will offer for the free trial. Apple Music offers 6 months free trial, and charges in US dollars. You can get open an account today and start paying $2.99 per month after 6 months. Hopefully Spotify matches this. However, like Netflix, I hope they charge in Kenyan Shillings, and I hope they integrate M-Pesa. And I hope they don’t pass the Digital Service Tax to consumers.

What are your thoughts? Let me know.


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