Dubai: For fans of music in the Middle East, there’s never been a better time.
The region currently has four giants of music streaming battling it out for supremacy. Let’s take a look at the competition.
First up, there’s the world’s largest two services, Apple Music and Spotify.
Apple Music is a streaming service that offers 45 million songs. The service costs Dh19.99 a month, or Dh29.99 for a family subscription.
While Apple Music received a lot of well-deserved flack for its user interface following its launch in 2015, the service has gone through a major revamp that has made it easier to search and store music.
The streaming service now has more than 50 million subscribers, and has received praise for the curation of its playlists and numerous “radio” stations,
Apple Music also works with iCloud, with the service attempting to match songs that have been uploaded to the cloud to those already in its catalogue. There have been numerous reports of songs going missing, being unplayable or getting confused with similar songs, especially live versions. The issue has yet to be resolved.
Apple Music streams on iOS devices, Macintosh, Apple’s HomePod and the Amazon Alexa.
Songs from Apple music can be downloaded and used on offline multiple devices, but the songs will be deleted if the subscriptions expires.
OK, but what if you don’t want to pay?
Well, then there is Spotify, a Swedish company that recently launched here in the Middle East. Being a free service, you will have to listen to ads.
But free also means some features are limited, including no access to offline listening and the fact that some new albums are only available to subscribers. Spotify does this because hey, artists need to eat too.
The good news is that Spotify is available across pretty much every major platform, including Alexa.
Now, if you want to pay for a subscription, for Dh19.99 you can get the full package, which includes being able to download songs, edit playlists, and pretty much listen to any of Spotify’s 40 million songs.
Amazon Prime Music is a service similar to Apple Music, but it is not available in the Middle East. Spotify has over 87 million subscribers.
Of course, Spotify and Apple Music aren’t the only two services out there.
Founded in 2007, the Paris-based streaming service Deezer now says it has 14 million monthly active users around the world, listening to 53 million tracks.
It is available in over 180 countries, and boasts exclusive rights in the Middle East and North Africa to Rotana’s music catalogue.
In August, the company announced a partnership with the Dubai-based company Rotana, one of the largest Arabic media and entertainment producers and distributors in the world.
Through its content, Rotana claims to reach over 500 million Arabic speaking households worldwide.
Deezer told Gulf News recently that it has a ‘local hero’ approach.
They say they do a lot of work on the ground with local artists to help them reach more fans and promote their music, including its annual Deezer NEXT programme, which helps up and coming artists take the next step in their careers.
Valued at over $1.16 billion (Dh4.3 billion), the company most recently raised $185 million in funding in August of this year.
Investors participating in this round included Kingdom Holding Company and Rotana, led by Chairman Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal; Access Industries; Orange and LBO France.
There’s another company out there that’s promising to be a local hero for the region.
Anghami was the first service of its kind in the Middle East, and features licensed content from leading Arabic labels such as Platinum Records, Mazzika, Melody and many others.
Anghami also features music from the major international labels such as Universal, Sony, EMI, Warner and says it is continuously licensing new music.
It claims to have the largest catalogue of music in the region, with more than 30 million songs available for more than 70 million users.
Both Deezer and Anghami are almost identically priced: Around Dh18 for a full subscription, or around Dh27.00 for a family plan. They both also offer limited free plans.