The bottom-line is this: all these great things happen in the world and Africa tends to be an after-thought, in relation to these happenings. Yes, we do lag behind in a number of instances but how do you think it feels when you are perceived as being at the bottom of the human barrel? Not particularly pleasurable!
Anyway, this is not a rant on the perception of Africa, but rather as a reaction to how it is hard to get the cool stuff here prompted, strangely enough, by the Nokia Music Store recently launched in South Africa.
With the level of mobile penetration in Africa and the fact that Nokia has been at the forefront of this, it does seem a great idea, even if it is only for South Africa. So, all excited, I decided I’d register and give it a run. First, I had to download Nokia Music which serves as music player, as well as access point to the store. To be honest, I decided not to set it as my default and, considering I have both Windows Media Player and iTunes, I don’t know if this will ever be my primary player. Music is in Windows Media Player format and you can either download to your PC or phone or subscribe to stream.
I log on. Browse. Every song costs R10 and every album R100. They say they have millions of songs so I search for TKZee and actually find all their albums, including Halloween. A definite hard-to-find these days. Problem. There are only 9 songs (which includes intro and outro). I’m a collector, I like to have full albums, but I’m not about to spend 10 bucks on an intro.
Quick side note:
In their press release, Nokia states: “Ensuring the Nokia Music Store is kept up to date with the latest tracks Nokia has aligned globally and locally with major record labels such as Sony Music, Universal, EMI, Warner and local independents including African Cream, Coolspot, Sheer and Next Music.
The store boasts a variety South African artists including rock bands The Narrow, Snotkop and Springbok Nude Girls, electronic acts Kalahari Surfers, Goldfish and Felix Laband, a full Afrikaans genre including the likes of Kurt Darren, Piet Botha and Karen Zoid, hip hoppers Prophets of da City, Judith Sephuma, kwaito guys Tzozo and Professor, MCs like Teba, and even traditional artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazo.”
I had a quick chat with Zwai Bala, formerly of TKZee, now of Bala Brothers, and he knows nothing about the music store and that his music is on there. With the recent drama around royalty payments in SA, he scurries off to find out from his record company what the deal is.
Anyway, back to the cost. International albums that sell for R150-plus in music stores are a bargain at R100. I try to pick up a copy of Musiq Soulchild’s latest album. Next problem. I had hoped that to purchase, it would just be deducted from my phone account. I need to load up my debit or credit card details and purchase album or purchase credits. A bit more commitment that I have.
I log on with my phone hoping that maybe I can bypass the debit card thing. Nope. Same thing there. I don’t know if this is fact, but I am thinking that, for the thousands / millions who use their cellphones as their music player, wouldn’t it be easier if you could buy without having to load debit card details? I think this does limit those who will actually purchase regularly from the store. The maintenance guy in my complex usually listens to music on his cellphone while he works. I suspect he might be more inclined to buy a song or two every now & then if all he has to do is load airtime on his phone.
So. I’m still debating as to whether to start buying songs regularly or not. I can’t load songs onto my iPod which I use when walking and in the car. I could play them off my laptop when I’m working, which is when I listen to most of my music. They do have a helluva a lot of music on there, some of which would be a mission to find in local music stores and I am not in a position to purchase of other online stores. I use a Nokia N96 which is really suited to being a music player but ….
South Africa is the 16th country in the world to get the Nokia Music Store. This has the potential to penetrate the continent a lot better than Apple with iTunes because Nokia has a stronger presence but they need to find a way of making things a bit more accessible for the ordinary man.
My random two cents.