Nikita Kering performs 'Ex' at Carnivore Simba Saloon on December 15, 2021. The AFRIMA award winner was among artists who attended the launch of Safaricom's BAZE Music.
Nikita Kering performs 'Ex' at Carnivore Simba Saloon on December 15, 2021. The AFRIMA award winner was among artists who attended the launch of Safaricom's BAZE Music. [Photo/ @SafaricomPLC]

East Africa’s largest telco, Safaricom, on Wednesday, December 15 officially launched its music streaming service BAZE Music.

BAZE music is a mobile-first audio spin-off of Safaricom’s BAZE video-on-demand platform launched earlier this year. It is also available on web. The new subscription-based music streaming service offers users ad-free access to a catalogue of over 45,000 Kenyan songs and 1.1 million international songs.

The packages on offer bundle music with data. A 1-day subscription with 50MB costs Ksh10, a weekly subscription with 300MB costs Ksh50, and a monthly subscription with 1.5GB costs Ksh200.

It was launched at an exclusive star-studded event at Carnivore Simba Saloon, Nairobi attended by many of Kenya’s top artists and creators. Among them were Nikita Kering, Femi One, Trio Mio, Redsan, Nameless, Wahu, Mejja, Jua Cali, Prince Indah, Azziad Nasenya and more.

It is expected to offer artists a new monetization avenue, although details of the revenue splits between the artists and the firm for BAZE Music currently remain unclear. Safaricom is already one of the biggest players in Kenyan music with Skiza Tunes – a call tune service which increased artists’ share of revenues to 40% in July 2021 from 30%.

BAZE Music is the latest piece in the telco’s quest to become a tech giant with multi-faceted lifestyle offerings, or as the company would put it, becoming a purpose and lifestyle-driven technology brand by 2025. CEO Peter Ndegwa has listed building new digital ecosystems across various sectors as being among his top priorities.

The music streaming service will compete in Kenya with other services including global giant Spotify which launched in Kenya in 2021, as well as 8-year old Mdundo and Transsion-owned Boomplay. Safaricom will be hoping to tap into its existing 35 million+ subscriber base to strike a chord.

Speaking at the launch, Ndegwa noted Safaricom’s company’s past involvement with Kenyan music and art including the Niko na Safaricom Live, Kenya Live, Twaweza Live tours and BLAZE youth summits.

“Music is one of the passion points for Kenyans. Our intention is to enable our customers to access and interact with music in the digital era,” he stated, highlighting how music is also a way to reach consumers.

He urged Kenyan artists to make the most of the new platform and its monetization options.

“With such a unique digital platform, I call upon our artists to be part of this journey and utilize this opportunity to earn while showcasing and growing their musical talents,” Ndegwa stated.

Legendary artist Jua Cali spoke on the evolution of music consumption from the early 2000’s when he was making hits at Calif Records, to date.

“(A long time ago) Kitambo we discovered Matatu was a good way to distribute music. (Me and producer Clemo) Mimi na Clemo (used to stand at the bus terminus) tulikua tunasimama kwa stage. (That’s how we started) Hivyo ndio tulianza. Now with streaming platforms it’s easier to reach people. It’s just a click away and everyone can listen to our music,” he observed.

The night also featured performances from stars including Trio Mio, Mejja and Nikita Kering.

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