Boomplay, the Biggest Sub-Saharan African Music Platform You've Never Heard Of

As Nigerian artists rise, West African-based music platform Boomplay aims beyond emerging music markets. By tracking your Boomplay streams on Chartmetric, you could be a part of it.

Boomplay, the Biggest Sub-Saharan African Music Platform You've Never Heard Of
Spencer Franks
Spencer Franks
February 22, 20214 min read
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With nearly 2B streams, Drake's 2016 hit "One Dance" is his most popular song on Spotify and one of the best-selling singles of all time. Co-written by Filipino singer-songwriter Kyla and Nigerian singer-songwriter Wizkid, the song mixes the West African music genres of Dancehall and Afrobeats.

Other Afrobeats artists like Nigerians Burna Boy and Joeboy have been featured on Stormzy and Major Lazer tracks, respectively, accruing hundreds of millions of Spotify streams.

While these cross-cultural collaborations are about as high profile as it gets, the influence of West African music has always been fundamental to Western Pop music. Enslaved West Africans forcibly transported to the Americas brought their music traditions with them, laying the foundation for popular music throughout the 20th century, from Blues to Jazz, Rock to Hip-Hop, and more. So, even if you're not consciously familiar with a regional genre like Afrobeats, you are certainly well acquainted with the influence of West African music, whether you realize it or not.

But what exactly is Afrobeats? Afrobeats is less a distinct style of West African music than it is a catch-all for Pop music from the region. It has since grown to expand beyond Africa, finding a second home in London.

This trend is obviously great for West Africans looking to expand internationally, but what about international artists looking to gain entry into emerging music markets like the West African music market? Enter: Boomplay. If you're already involved in the West African music scene, you probably already know about it. For the rest, the next section is for you.

A Brief History of Boomplay

Boomplay was developed by Transsnet, a joint venture between two Chinese companies: Transsion, the largest smartphone provider in Africa, and NetEase, a Tencent competitor. Leveraging Transsion's position, Boomplay launched in 2015 as a preinstalled music player on the their phones. Since then, the platform has grown from 17M monthly users in July 2018 to 53M in August 2019. By June 2020, according to Music Ally, Boomplay had reached 75M global users.

Boomplay has consistently ranked as the No. 1 music and audio app on the Google Play store across the major African countries. Our platform also boasts being the only African music app with more than 50M installations on Google Play store, and a social media fan base over 1.5M.

Boomplay's Head of Marketing (February 2020)

With 86 percent of its 75M users in Sub-Saharan Africa, Boomplay is the dominant music streaming platform in Africa. And although Africa has not historically been seen as a commercial music powerhouse, there is plenty of opportunity there.

So What?

If you, or an artist you're working with, are looking for an international following for your Afropop or Gospel music, Boomplay might be the right place.

While Afropop artists are continuing to gain more global acclaim, there is a strong following of Gospel music on Boomplay as well. Top tier Boomplay artists like SINACH (23.9M Boomplay streams) and Nathaniel Bassey (22.3M Boomplay streams) have hundreds of thousands of Spotify followers and millions of Instagram followers alongside their millions of Boomplay streams.

While some American gospel artists like William McDowell have found success on Boomplay, many have little to no presence on the platform. For those artists, working with Boomplay could provide them instant access to an international audience that is constantly growing. Collaboration with artists that are already popular on Boomplay might also be a way to engage with the platform's millions of users.

How Chartmetric Can Help

Let's begin with how to find artists. You should start off on the Artist List page and sort by Boomplay Streams to get a sense of what artists are popular on the platform. You can then apply filters for genre and sub-genre. Once you have a list of interesting artists, you can go to their individual profile pages to learn more about them. Checking out their Fan Metrics can help you find any broad, cross-platform trends.

You can also see the demographics of their audience to check whether their fans are similar to yours. Or, maybe they have fans that you don't currently have but would like to get. The last step is to contact them. Some artists have their contact info in their bios, but for those that don't, you might be able to reach out through one of their social media accounts.

(By the way, one of most interesting music industry trends we discovered recently is that five of the Top 10 artists in terms of Twitter growth last year were Nigerian artists with millions of Boomplay streams.)

And once you're on Boomplay, you can use Chartmetric to track your performance there alongside other platforms. For example, you can monitor how quickly streams are growing on Boomplay versus Pandora. Maybe the addition of Boomplay drives an increase in Twitter followers. No way to know until you try.

Looking Forward

"[Western] streaming services are not so big in Africa right now and may not necessarily be considered ‘serious competition’, since we are currently operating in different markets. However, we have noticed some moves recently with respect to content acquisition and marketing. Africa is termed the ‘last frontier of the global economy’ with a population of about 1.3B. Coupled with the recent international explosion of African music, these moves into the market are very well anticipated."

Boomplay's Head of Marketing (February 2020)

It's true that Boomplay is not currently one of the main platforms for streaming. While Spotify adds about 40K songs a day, according to Music Business Worldwide, that kind of volume makes it hard for any individual artist to stand out.

Much of the music industry has turned toward TikTok for artist discovery and viral growth, but much like Spotify, its strength in volume and attention may make it harder for the individual artist to succeed. Moreover, both TikTok and Spotify serve a similar, Western-focused demographic.

Boomplay, on the other hand, services a relatively untapped market that is growing and receptive to Western music. You could be a part of it.