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EMI Music supports the launch of MusicStation in South Africa

  • MusicStation to launch in South Africa with Vodafone affiliate network Vodacom, bringing legal subscription based digital music downloads within reach of over 24.6 million mobile users for the first time
  • Consumers have access to over a million tracks from Universal Music Group, SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, EMI Music and Warner Music Group and independent labels
  • MusicStation available on new and existing Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets

Johannesburg, South Africa, 1 November 2007 – Leading mobile music company Omnifone, today announces that MusicStation, the award winning unlimited music downloads service, will launch in South Africa with the country’s largest Mobile Network Operator (MNO), Vodacom South Africa.

“Partnering with the largest and most advanced mobile network operator in South Africa means we can bring affordable digital music to millions of South Africans for the first time in history,” said Rob Lewis, CEO of Omnifone. “With no iTunes store, low levels of computer ownership and limited broadband penetration, accessing legal digital music has been almost impossible in South Africa. MusicStation enables consumers in South Africa who subscribe to have the freedom to download and play whatever music they want, wherever they are, direct to their cellphone and all for a fixed fee.”

MusicStation users can 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 cellphone. Customers 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.

Over a million MusicStation tracks available to download from all major and independent labels
MusicStation will provide users unlimited access, when subscribed, 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.

Rob Wells, Senior Vice President, Digital, Universal Music Group International, said, “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.”

Barney Wragg, Global Head of Digital for EMI Music said: “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, Warner Music International said, “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.”

Thomas Hesse, President, Global Digital Business & U.S. Sales, SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT said, “SONY BMG is working with Omnifone to ensure that unlimited access to our music is available on the mobiles of as many millions of MusicStation subscribers as possible, as quickly as possible. Launching MusicStation with Vodacom will put legal digital music downloads within reach of millions of South African consumers for the first time in history.”

Guillaume Decugis, Chief Operating Officer of Musiwave, Omnifone’s Preferred Digital Music Platform Services Provider stated, “We are delighted to be working with Omnifone and Vodacom to bring unlimited music downloads to the South African marketplace for the first time. It is an exciting and fast growing marketplace, and one where there is every opportunity for the mobile phone to the primary digital music device for the masses.”

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.

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,” continued Bloor.

MusicStation is already live on Telenor network in Sweden and the 3 network in Hong Kong. Vodafone recently announced that MusicStation would go live in the UK during November 2007.

Omnifone has established partnerships with 26 other mobile phone network partners in countries that include: Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.


About MusicStation
MusicStation will run on virtually all 2.5/3G/3.5G music compatible mobiles. MusicStation’s user interface and functionality are virtually identical across all manufacturer handset models, providing the same intuitive user experience on every handset.

Built-in networked functions, including the ability to share playlists with other users, mean that MusicStation delivers a truly compelling music experience on the mobile for the first time in South Africa. MusicStation customers will be able to build a music-based social network, where they can create a profile and message their friends with track and playlist recommendations. MusicStation uses ‘collaborative filtering’ and ‘nearest neighbour technology’ to identify and recommend new tracks, artists and playlists that users are likely to be interested in.

Downloaded MusicStation tracks and user playlists are stored centrally so that if a Vodacom customer’s mobile is stolen, lost or upgraded, the replacement handset will automatically restore the customer’s music, playlists, friends and preferences the first time MusicStation is switched on.

MusicStation automatically stores a customer’s favourite tracks on the phone’s internal or removable memory. Whilst some phones can store thousands of tracks, others store less than one hundred. MusicStation maximises the capabilities of any mobile phone using unlimited downloads from the network to provide access to any of the catalogue at any time. MusicStation’s technology also ensures that the memory allocated on the phone is always used to store the customer’s favourite and about-to-be-played music. This means that users can listen to their favourite tracks when in Flight Safe mode and have unlimited access to the full catalogue when connected to a 2.5/3G/3.5G network.

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