A couple of months ago, Safaricom launched BAZE. It is a video-on-demand platform, which the carrier said had been in development for more than two years.
According to the telco, BAZE’s goal is ‘to delight our customers by availing a carefully curated collection of video content across their favourite genres. BAZE will place the entertainment Kenyans want at their fingertips, giving users freedom, choice, and control over the content they consume.’
We tested the service, and gave our brief opinion about it, but we faulted it mostly because it did not launch with an app. And up to now, users can only access it from the web.
Now, some of us know that Safaricom has a music streaming service named BAZE Music.
This, it appears, is a different product altogether because as its name suggests, it is just that, and doesn’t appear to do much more than you would expect of a robust music streaming platform.
I have played with the app for the better part of the day and have mixed reactions about it. To note, this is not a review, but just a few thoughts about what I think is all about.
I also do not know if Safaricom has plans to push the app to a wider audience, bearing in mind that the operator has reach, and has done so from the past with products such as the M-PESA app and mySafaricom.
Also, this is the part where I mention that Safaricom is not new to music streaming because it has done so before, but the results were disappointing.
The app is available on Google Play, and it has been there for quite some time. So far, it has garnered more than half a million downloads, which is no small feat.
From the start, you can tell this is a Safaricom product with the usual fonts that the carrier uses.
The platform, as a whole, has more than 4 million songs.
There are chances you will find your favourite tune here, but as you can tell, some songs, especially those from the West, are missing, but I kind of expected that.
All that aside, here is what you can do with the app (nothing major):
- You get a one-week pass (unlimited streaming) if you are using the app for the first time. This includes 500 MB for free. You can still stream for free even if you exhaust the free allocation.
- Signing up is easy, all you need is your Safaricom number to create an account.
- The platform has 4 million songs, a couple of videos (yet to see them), albums and curated playlists.
- The app can create unique daily mixes akin to what Spotify does.
- You can create your own playlists too.
- You can set songs as Skiza tunes.
- You can save songs for offline streaming. However, a single song can take up to five minutes to download, which is just too long.
- There are no ads here.
Once your trial period passes, BAZE Music will task you to pay for music. It has four payment plans:
- Daily at KES 10/autorenew
- Daily at KES 10/one off
- Weekly KES 50/one off
- Monthly KES 200/monthly one off
Safaricom has not specified BAZE Music’s streaming quality, but there are two settings for it:
- An Auto setting that adjusts quality based on your data speeds.
- Manual settings where a user picks ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’ qualities.
As said, Skiza is here in full force. You can pick a song from an extended list, and make it a call back tone for your callers if you are into such things.
We get why Skiza is here because it has supported artists, and the carrier has made substantial revenue from the service.
It costs KES 1 per day to use a Skiza tune.
And that’s just about it.
There isn’t much going on here, and we do not know what the carrier is seeking to achieve here. Its past music streaming products have mostly flopped save for Skiza, so will BAZE Music hack the industry, or is it one of the products that will be axed in the long run, or pushed to the back like it did with Masoko?
See, people who stream music seriously already know which apps to use, and BAZE Music is none of them. Spotify is insanely popular here, and it costs just KES 300 per month, with a richer music catalog and features. Apple Music is equally affordable too, and while it does not match Spotify’s offerings, people who use it swear by it because it just works, and has nearly all the songs you would want to play.
We will see how Safaricom will present the platform to customers when it starts to market it, which we know, is in the near future.