Recent figures released by MTN Group chief digital officer Herman Singh show that music distribution in Africa has earned MTN Music over $70 million in revenues during the first six months of 2016 alone.
In a recent interview with South African news website Techfinancials.co.za, Herman Singh explained that MTN had developed the ability to offer music to its customers in eight different formats: MP3 (full tracks), ringtones (true tones), caller ring back tones, streaming (music on demand), radio streaming, IVR radio, music subscriptions and music videos.
While the mobile services company does not produce music, it earns income from music distribution via these various formats. Singh confirmed that the company had hit $70 million in revenues for the first half of 2016.
According to him, MTN Music now has about 70 million customers in Africa, who download an average of 50 million songs across all of MTN’s music offerings every month and many of these users come from West Africa.
Despite what seems like a great relationship with the music sector which would have been vital to gather this much momentum, the company has come under fire twice this year for refusing to pay royalties to the appropriate parties.
In February, an outcry from the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) in SA that MTN was not paying out royalties to musicians in South Africa had led to MTN signing a deal with Sony to expand their musical offering. In May this year, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) taking MTN Nigeria to court for 16 billion naira ($80 million) over the alleged failure of the company to pay royalties to deserving parties; it had been dubbed ‘the biggest copyright lawsuit ever in Africa’.
Singh also revealed that users of MTN’s music platform are increasingly downloading local music rather than international songs.