Vodacom is launching MusicStation in South Africa, offering subscription-based music downloads to 24,6-million cellular phone users. Users will have access to more than 1-million tracks from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Music and Warner Music Group.
MusicStation is a product from mobile music company Omnifone. It can be accessed by users of new and existing Nokia and Ericsson handsets.
Users will be able to download, play and share music recommendations without the need for a PC, credit card or broadband connection as all downloads are carried out directly to their compatible cellular phone. They can discover and download any new music risk-free at any time, enabling legitimate and effective music discovery during the period of their subscription.
MusicStation also features live charts, a personalised music news service and a music-based social network community capability which enables users to make friends, build and share playlists and music recommendations with other MusicStation users.
Once subscribed, users have unlimited access to a vast catalogue of music from all the major record labels. Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Music and Warner Music Group, as well as leading independents will make their international and local digital music catalogues available to MusicStation users in South Africa as part of international licensing agreements with Omnifone.
Robin Bloor, international IT analyst with Bloor Research said, “The digital music market in South Africa is largely undeveloped; with no iTunes store in South Africa, iPod users have no legal method of accessing digital music other than by sideloading copied music.
"By international standards broadband penetration and computer ownership rates are very low across the region. The only digital device virtually all South African’s use every day is a mobile phone. Introducing MusicStation will create a completely new channel for legal music distribution, discovery and consumption across the region. This will create new revenue streams for the music and mobile industries and a mass market digital music service for consumers.”
Rob Wells, senior vice-president: digital at Universal Music Group International, says: “South Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog many European countries in digital music distribution by unleashing what is the most compelling music experience on mobile today to people who have had no way to purchase digital music apart from on CD. Millions of people across South Africa will have the opportunity to access all the music they could ever want, not from a computer, which they may not have access to, but from their cellphone that is already in their pocket every day.”
According to Barney Wragg, global head of digital for EMI Music: "The MusicStation service offers a huge opportunity for South African music lovers to access EMI's rich catalogue via a simple subscription service – this is an important stage in the digital development of the region and we hope this will prove very attractive to consumers."
Pete Downton, vice-president: business development and strategic partnerships at Warner Music International, adds: "The potential for mobile music in South Africa is extremely exciting, as it provides many people with the first meaningful alternative to purchasing CD’s. MusicStation will be putting our content within the reach of millions of new consumers that have never had legal access to it before."
MusicStation will be supported by a local Omnifone editorial team based in South Africa providing full editorial support for localised music news and content, a key characteristic of every MusicStation rollout.