Bringing Beats: Boomplay CEO Joe He and Regional Director Oyebowale Akideinde.

Bringing Beats: Boomplay CEO Joe He and Regional Director Oyebowale Akideinde.

Record labels have undergone a revenue renaissance thanks to streaming, and now the biggest label by sales is making a play for an African streaming market currently led by one Chinese company.

Santa Monica-based Universal Music Group Inc. announced Nov. 5 that it signed a multiyear contract to license its catalog of hundreds of thousands of songs to Boomplay Music, the dominant streaming service in Africa with 35 million users.

With the deal, Universal becomes the largest label streaming on the continent. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and Warner Music Group Corp., which together with Universal make up the industry’s big three players, have not licensed their catalogs to Boomplay.

Asked about possible Sony and Warner deals, a Boomplay spokesman said, “We plan to work with as many music groups as possible so as to satisfy our thirst for a robust catalogue. We have more big announcements coming in a few months.”

Streaming powerhouse Spotify Technology counts 170 million users worldwide but trails Boomplay in Africa as a relative newcomer. Spotify launched on the continent in March, making its product available for music consumers in South Africa.

Universal has also recently expanded its presence on the African music scene. The company opened offices in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast earlier this year after first setting up shop on the continent with a South African office in 1997.

These Universal satellite offices work to monitor plays of the company’s catalogue, from streams to radio and clubs, and administer royalty payments.

Boomplay is a subsidiary of Transsion Holdings Co. Ltd., a Shenzhen, China-based manufacturer of smartphones, and the leading smartphone supplier to African markets. Transsion began preinstalling Boomplay on its phones in 2015.

According to a Universal spokesman, Boomplay will distribute Universal’s catalog through its smartphone and desktop apps to users in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

Universal has a 28 percent share of the global recorded music market, according to a Music Business Worldwide report.

Streaming accounted for 54 percent – or $9.3 billion – of all global recorded music revenue in 2017, the first year it made up the majority of industry revenues, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a United Kingdom-headquartered trade group.

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