Spotify makes South African debut

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Music streaming service Spotify is now available in SA.
Music streaming service Spotify is now available in SA.

The world's largest music-streaming service, Spotify, will officially launch in South Africa this week. The South African launch marks the first time Spotify will be available on the African continent.

The Swedish-based service gives users access to millions of songs from all major record labels, including a large selection of South African artists. Users can choose to stream the music or download it for later listening if they upgrade their account. The platform also hosts podcasts which people can stream, as well as video content.

The service currently has more than 159 million active users, in over 60 countries (most of Europe, most of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia).

It was also launched in Israel, Romania and Vietnam today, bringing the total number of countries where the platform is available to 65.

South Africans will be able to use a free service from today or pay for a premium subscription. The free service has adverts that will play every few songs, and does not let users download content or give them access to their smart playlists.

Spotify says that for an hour of music on the free service, users will hear three minutes of adverts.

The premium account will cost users R59.99 per month, the same price as competitors Apple Music, Deezer and Google Play Music.

The premium subscription lets users play music ad-free as well as download up to 3 333 songs offline on up to three devices, including desktop computers, smartphones and tablets, to listen to when they don't want to use data to stream.

Premium access also gives users access to personalised playlists that are curated by algorithms based on what the user already likes. There are three types: Release Radar, Daily Mix and Discover Weekly.

Release Radar is a playlist that comes out every Friday and gives users 20 songs that have recently been released by artists they have liked before. Daily Mix is a daily playlist that groups music users have saved into genres and adds new similar songs to the mix. After a few weeks of usage, Spotify will give users a Discover Weekly playlist every Monday that is 30 songs users haven't yet saved, that the service thinks they may like based on their past listening behaviour.

"Because of these playlists, users have described the service as the platform that knows which music you like before you know it," says Spotify.

Spotify says it pays special attention to the creative community and openly shares data it collects from users with artists and labels.

Musicians have a dashboard on which they are able to see, almost in real-time, how their music is performing and who is listening to it. The company says this can help artists with marketing and planning tours; for example, they may not know they have so many fans in a certain region.

Spotify pays the rights holders of music for making their music available on the service. As of December last year, EUR8 billion (R116 billion) had been paid out by Spotify to rights holders.

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