Music app Anghami plans to deliver its first album of Saudi originals this year
by Parag Deulgaonkar
Anghami is betting big on Saudi Arabia’s music and entertainment scene.
For one, the Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) region’s first legal music streaming service isn’t just looking for a more significant market share of the largest economy in the Gulf region. It wants to be part of the change happening in the Kingdom by delivering the first album of Saudi-recorded originals this year.
A local flavor
Born in Beirut in 2012, Anghami has more than 75 million users across the MENA region, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt contributing the biggest portion of its subscriber base.
“Saudi Arabia is at the center of our growth strategy. Entertainment is a focal in Vision 2030 strategy and we believe that Saudi Arabia has a rich musical content that can become universal,” Elie Habib, co-founder of Anghami told Argaam.
“Our strategy is to work with local Saudi musicians and partners to grow Saudi content in MENA region and beyond.”
In the Kingdom, the biggest challenge for Anghami was to localize its content to match Saudi taste, Habib believes.
But to overcome this obstacle, the company set up an office in the Kingdom and hired a team to work with local musicians and partners to better tailor its content, as well as to create Saudi musical content.
Saudi Arabia contributes a major chunk to Anghami’s revenues, nearly 21 percent and the tech-savvy population offer the most significant growth potential, reveals Habib.
Mobile device penetration has reached 93 percent in Saudi Arabia, according to GSMA, a trade body representing mobile network operators worldwide.
While 20.2 million people in the Kingdom accessed the Internet through their mobile phone in 2018, the number is projected to increase to 22.5 million by 2023, says business intelligence portal Statista.
“Revenues in Saudi Arabia have been growing fast thanks to the successful partnerships with local telco and media partners," Habib said.
An appetite for music
Anghami, which set up an office in Riyadh almost a year back, is now planning to expand its local team.
“We believe that we haven’t yet scratched the surface properly in Saudi and we need to establish a solid local team to help us achieve our goals.”
The music streaming app has already worked with multiple Saudi artists and created two original songs, one of them being streamed five million times.
“Currently we are adding 9,000 songs a week, yet our bigger target is to create localized Saudi content in partnership with Saudi musicians and artists. We aim to create an album of Saudi originals in 2019,” Habib said.
According to Anghami, the top five GCC artists by streams are: Hussein Al Jassmi (UAE), Abdul Majeed Abdallah (Saudi Arabia), Eissa El Marzouq (Kuwait), Rashed Al Majed (Bahrain/Saudi Arabia) and Mohammad Al Shehhi (UAE).
Biggest competitor is piracy
Anghami’s co-founder ruled out any "direct competition" with Deezer and Spotify— the latest music streaming services to enter the region— insisting that Anghami is a “market leader by far.”
“We are the only service that is connected with all the mobile operators in the region, allowing users to seamlessly get the premium service without a credit card.”
"Anghami is the only music app that has a social layer enabling you to know what your friends are playing, send music to your friends, discover new friends who have similar interests and communicate with them," Habib added.
However, he said "piracy" is the app streaming industry’s biggest competitor.
Though Habib did not reveal any new funding plans, he revealed Anghami is ready to work with partners that can help it grow and achieve new milestones.