Music Streaming Platforms in the Middle East – Growing Market Opportunities and Regulatory Considerations

Music Streaming Platforms in the Middle East – Growing Market Opportunities and Regulatory Considerations

Music streaming services have taken centre stage across the global music industry – and the Middle East (MENA) region is no exception. MENA has over the past few years witnessed staggering growth in online listenership with technology, partnerships, and increased consumer adoption driving growth for music streaming platforms. Despite years of sustained growth resulting in market maturity for music streaming in MENA, significant potential remains, especially in key markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE.

Opportunities in the MENA music space 

According to a music streaming industry market study for MENA, conducted by Choueiri Group and Anghami, there are several factors that facilitate market opportunities for music streaming platforms in the Middle East. Firstly, the region houses youthful populations that are tech-savvy and key consumers of music streaming platforms. To date, the largest share of regional growth has come from younger generation consumers switching their allegiances from previous generations of music distribution – be it physical sales or digital downloads – to streaming platforms. Secondly, the smartphone penetration rate is growing rapidly across the region with Saudi Arabia having one of the highest rates of smartphone ownership in the world. Finally, MENA is characterized by high rates of media consumption, especially social media, and other digital platforms. Besides, according to the above-mentioned market study, among the online population of key MENA markets, the music streaming penetration rate is 59% for Saudi Arabia, 70% for the UAE, and 83% for Egypt. This makes music streaming the most common means of music consumption in these countries.

Regulatory considerations

Technology has made music more accessible than ever, with record companies’ investments in artists, people and innovation paving the way for greater growth both from a regional and global perspective. Nevertheless, with technological development also comes new regulatory considerations and compliance requirements. For music streaming platforms, regulatory considerations and compliance requirements are particularly linked to online platform and digital content regulations, including online harms, but also cyber-crime laws, cyber security laws, copyright laws, consumer protection laws, and personal data protection laws, to mention a few. The policy and regulatory landscapes are rapidly evolving in line with regional digital transformation efforts, for example, noting the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission’s draft Digital Content Platforms Regulations issued in November 2021, and the UAE’s Media and Content Regulation Framework. These regulations are the first of their kind across the Middle East and are likely to dictate other countries’ approach, noting Saudi Arabia and UAE’s prominent roles in digital transformation development and their commitment to providing training on digital regulations to other countries in the region.

Unlocking potential

Music streaming is a vibrant, innovative, and competitive industry which has the potential to take even greater leaps towards emerging markets like the Middle East. Unlocking this potential is key for music streaming platforms operating in the region to ensure continued growth in key markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE, as well as beyond. Access Partnership is closely monitoring market opportunities and regulatory considerations. For more information regarding policies, regulations, or opportunities of engagement in the region, please contact Hussein Abul-Enein at Hussein.abul-enein@accesspartnership.com or Anja Engen at anja.engen@accesspartnership.com.

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