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Deezer Partners with Vodafone in South Africa

The music streaming service Deezer has agreed to a deal with Vodacom, South Africa’s largest mobile telephone network, according to Bloomberg. The Paris-based streaming company is Spotify’s largest global competitor, though relatively unknown in the US, where it has only recently begun to offer subscriptions and spark partnerships.

The South African Vodacom deal would give Deezer exclusive access to the carrier’s 32 million South African customers for one year. The arrangement is similar to a German offering of Deezer’s services provided by Vodacom’s parent company, Britain’s Vodafone. The German deal was announced in early September.

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The South African deal has yet to be publicly confirmed by either company. If true, it would represent a jump out of the gates to tap into the unproven African music-streaming market. Neither Spotify nor Pandora has significant operations on the continent. Though smartphone penetration in the African cellular market is low by developed-world standards, at about 18%, its growth is rapid and Deezer appears to have established a beachhead in South Africa, which has the continent’s greatest smartphone penetration by far.

The Vodacom partnership should extend Deezer’s reach beyond that of local competitors Simfy Africa and Spinlet, and enhance its user growth on the continent. Deezer’s service is already accessible in the South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya.

South Africa represents a music market ripe for the shifts that mobile streaming and downloads have wrought in the U.S. and Europe. A PricewaterhouseCoopers report cited by Bloomberg states that only 7.3 percent of recorded-music revenues came from digital sources in 2012, representing a diminutive $8 million. According to the IPFI’s 2014 Digital Music Report, the global average was 39 percent in 2013, accounting for $5.9 billion worldwide.

Today’s reports of a deal come on the heels of a month of big announcements by Deezer. In addition to the Vodafone partnership in Germany, the company launched Deezer Elite, a premium, high-quality streaming service available exclusively through Sonos wireless audio equipment.