UAE Streaming Platform Anghami Launches Social Audio Platform Ahead of IPO

Anghami, the music streaming service based in the United Arab Emirates, has launched a social audio feature called Live Radio that makes its music a part of the conversation. The startup debuted Live Radio ahead of its planned IPO on NASDAQ New York and will be adding subscription channels and other sources of revenue for musicians and other creators to make money with its social audio option soon.

Music & Lyrics

Live Radio is a feature on both the iOS and Android versions of Anghami’s app. The feature is similar to Clubhouse and many other social audio services in terms of allowing users to create a room with a ‘stage’ for people to talk and possibly invite up others who are listening in the ‘audience.’ The biggest difference is that music from Anghami’s library can be directly included as part of the experience. Any track from the music and podcast collection can be played in the background while people talk, whether as a background soundtrack or to play in between the live conversation as a kind of presentation. Anyone can make a room, but Anghami has been working with popular artists in the Middle East to host rooms where fans can converse and with the musicians they like.

Anghami includes a few other elements beyond just the audio conversations to Live Radio., Participants can post text comments from the audience and applaud the host. Listeners can even set up side audio chats with others in the audience without turning off the sound from the main room, a bit like whispering to someone next to you at a live event. The original beta last year was, in fact, solely text-based before the voice chat was incorporated ahead of the full release.

“The social elements of music have always been part of our vision. In fact, ‘live radio rooms’ were part of our original business pitch in 2011, as we saw the opportunity for social audio features to take off,” Anghami co-founder and chairman Elie Habib said in the announcement. “Having been integrating social features such as stories and chats since 2017, now we are leading the way in delivering the next level of social audio to our users and our contributors. With the pandemic keeping people at home and apart, the intimacy of voice and the need to be closer to others has become more valuable and we expect to see the social audio market realize significant growth.”

Artistic Revenue

The next step for Anghami is launching Premium Live Radio later this year, which will include revenue-generating features like subscription channels that artists can set up to make money from Live Radio. There’s a lot of money to be made potentially, as Anghami counts more than 70 million people as users in 16 countries, with Arabic, French, and English versions of its app available. The focus on working with musicians and other artists is very similar to some of the recent moves by other social audio platforms. Spotify has started its bid for that aspect of social audio with its new Greenroom feature, the revamped and rebranded version of the recently acquired Locker Room. The focus on artists is also the strategy outlined by Discord for its new Stage Channels feature and an aspect of Facebook’s new social audio plans. None of them have the option to play their music while they are talking through the app itself, however.

The convergence of social audio and streaming is not surprising, but Anghami has already gathered data that adds proof to the idea of its value. The social elements encourage people to engage with the streaming app for longer. According to Anghami, retention rates are 30% higher for active social users, and social users stream for 33% longer every day compared to regular Anghami users.

“Anghami has an established track record and user base which continues to help us build and leverage our wide range of consumer behavioral data to create local experiences,” Habib said. “Our beta launch in mid-2020 displayed how focusing on creating communities and adding interaction has been our best strategic asset, boosting engagement and retention – and a tribute to the region and the music that brings it together.”


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