In an interview during an event recently during August 2018, renowned South African DJ, Black Coffee, announced that he is working on a digital platform and app for independent music artists to showcase their work. Named GongBox, the digital music platform was first announced by Black Coffee in 2014 but it never really took off and gained traction.
Black Coffee has indicated that the team at Soulistic Music, his record label, have been working on it for the past 4 or 5 years.
"My 18-year-old son loves music, and he tells me, 'I wanna get into music,' and I'm like, 'don't do that.' But I wanna be able to say, 'do it because there's a platform for you—like, if your song is good and it's uploaded here, that's all you need,'" said Black Coffee.
Music streaming in South Africa
In the age of Spotify, Apple Music (and by extension iTunes too), and TIDAL, starting a digital music platform is an uphill battle considering the reach and music catalogs the dominant platforms have. Not only that, considering how some major record labels are shareholders of Spotify and how Apple Music is able to offer music artists exclusive deals, it is understandable why music fans would opt for the bigger platforms.
As far as South Africa is concerned, several digital music platforms have been launched over the years that are of South African origin, most notably Simfy Africa, KasiMP3, and NicheStreem. Apart from the fact you can buy vouchers and not require a credit card to subscribe, Simfy doesn't offer much different from the major international streaming platforms. Closer to what Black Coffee is probably looking to do with GongBox is KasiMP3, which at it peak had hundreds of thousands of track downloads monthly and catered for independent artists before being shut down. While Nichestreem, which has received investment from Naspers owned Media24, has a somewhat unique offering in that it is focussed on playlist subscriptions.
Although details are still a bit sketchy on exactly how GongBox will look and work like, Black Coffee did indicate that it will be somewhat similar to Apple Music, Spotify and others. However, it will be targeted to an Afrikan market.
Cover image credit:: DJ Shimza playing alongside Black Coffee. Wikimedia Commons