Last week, Spotify increased its presence in the area as it launched its streaming service in the Middle East and Africa. This move allowed local Palestinian musicians to gain recognition and dividends through the streaming service. This is the first major streaming service launched that is specifically geared towards the local Palestinian area, connecting local artists to audiences internationally.
Bashar Murad, a Palestinian singer, said, “as Palestinian artists, we face a lot of restrictions. Some cannot travel to perform in another country.” Bashar Murad is based in East Jerusalem, an area that Israel captured in 1967. The launch of the streaming service eases restrictions that entertainers from the area often suffer from. Murad said the launch increased his “monthly followers from 30 to something like 6,500.”
For several years, Spotify has been unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza. This is mainly due to the lack of high-speed cellular services within the area leading to the limit of the app’s on-the-go usage. Many artists often would have to upload music at a spot with strong connection. The area lacks 4G broadband infrastructure and is Spotify’s only regional launch without 4G capabilities. The West Bank enabled 3G service in late 2017, and Gaza can only withstand 2G service.
However, the streaming service availability is still “something significant”, said Murad. “Despite the restrictions, we can unite on social media. Spotify’s recent launch provides for new opportunities for the local area of Palestine and can be a leading foundation towards improving capabilities in the region.