I was chatting to friends today about the earlier South African online music store failures that included Musica and Pick n Pay. We were speculating about whether the time has finally come to give digital music distribution another try, given all positive forces that are now making this possible, most important of which is increasing download speeds that are still on the up and up. This perfect timing is also buoyed by the phenomenal growth of South African music as a whole, driven by the mushrooming of young, highly creative producers from all over Mzansi, who are bringing out great tracks with awesome quality, and who are not perturbed by being pigeon-holed into any of the existing genres – examples that spring to mind include Soul Phenduka, The Muffinz, Die Antwoord, Toya Delazy, The Soil, iFani and Jack Parow. Music by most of these artists can be played anywhere in the world now, and you would battle to locate it in South Africa unless you know who is behind it.
It is worth noting that there are South African online music distribution sites in existence, and the most well-known currently is AfrodesiaMP3. However, these sites still do not provide the required scale to really take South African music to the world. As a result, established independent artists such as our best House Music export - Black Coffee - end up using international sites such as Traxsource to reach the global market. Finally, our music can no longer be classified as “World Music” anymore. It is now good enough to rate favorably against productions from the West.
Related post: Are digital music downloads a better deal for artists?
The chat with friends could not have come at a better time. Mr Price launched South Africa’s first full-fledged online fashion retail store yesterday, with 18 000 fashion items on sale. This news received great reviews all round, and I agree with the sentiment. I am bowled over by Mr Price’s demonstrated understanding of South Arica’s digital market and opportunities, and thus the 360° approach taken in developing their e-commerce channel that seamlessly incorporates mobile and Internet sales platforms, multiple payment options, and convenient delivery methods. It is clear to me that Mr Price took the trouble to reduce all possible hurdles to ensure positive online shopping experience. I predict that Mr Price will have a major contribution in the future growth of South African e-commerce business that is currently 0.5% of total retail sales.
There are great lessons that can be drawn from how Mr Price’s new online channel is structured for anyone who is brave (or stupid?) enough to give another go at a South African online music distribution platform with scale.