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Universal Music Pushes Further Into African Streaming Biz With Mdundo Licensing Deal

The mobile-based Kenyan platform claims 17 million active monthly users across 15 countries.

Universal Music Group will license its music catalog in Africa via Mdundo, a Danish mobile-based music streaming service with 17 million active monthly users across 15 African countries, the companies say.

The licensing deal will boost Mdundo’s profile in the region, which is experiencing rapid growth in audio streaming, while extending the reach of Universal Music Africa in the market there.

Nairobi, Kenya-based Mdundo, which launched in 2012, says it has nearly quadrupled in growth from 5 million MAUs in June 2020 to 19-20 million MAUs in June 2022. The company says on its website that it works with more than 60,000 artists from across Africa. It is listed on the Danish Stock Exchange.

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Mdundo’s growth has mostly come in Nigeria, with additional users gained in Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana. UMG’s licensing deal is primarily focused on those four countries, a Universal spokesperson tells Billboard.

The music service has been focused on securing music rights for its local African catalog and has announced partnerships in the last year with telecoms Vodacom Tanzania, MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria.

Other streaming services operating in Africa, notably the Chinese-owned Boomplay, have also been expanding rapidly. Boomplay operates in more than 50 countries on the continent and says it has more than 60 million MAUs and hosts more than 65 million tracks. The service has licensing deals in place with UMG, Warner Music and Sony Music, as well as with Merlin, which represents licensing rights for more than 20,000 independent labels and distributors.

Universal has been aggressively expanding its presence and reach on the continent, in part by opening regional headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa and Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire. The label also has offices on the continent in Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya and Morocco.

More recently, UMG has started labels dedicated to supporting talent in Africa, including Def Jam Africa, Blue Note Africa and Motown Gospel Africa. African artists on the Universal roster include Tiwa Savage, Nasty C, Mi Casa and Nikita Kering.