Ja.fm, the first South African digital radio station that drives its playlists through its listeners’ votes, has grown its audience from around 4,500 unique browsers in January 2012 to nearly 100,000 in January 2013.
This represents a 2000%-plus growth in unique listeners over this period for Ja.fm, which launched in 2011. Ja.fm, owned by Kagiso Media, is an online music offering that uses a crowdsourced model to offer an exclusively Afrikaans playlist. Its listeners are the programme directors, steering the playlist of well-known and slightly more obscure Afrikaans music through their votes.
We originally launched Ja.fm to complement our Jacaranda FM broadcast station and play a wider range of Afrikaans music than we do on air. Since then, our interactive approach to digital radio has proven to be a hit with fans of Afrikaans music, including many homesick South Africans living abroad.
Ja.fm’s visitors spent 2 405 hours on the Ja.fm site in January this year listening to music, voting, sharing social media content, and reading up on their favourite artists. The Ja.fm audience is young (68% under 34 years old), 62% male and highly engaged, with an average click-through rate of 0.97% during January 2013. They sent thousands of tweets, emails, SMS messages and Facebook posts during this time, with Facebook shares and Tweets providing a social reach of around 67,000 users in the social Web.
The secrets of Ja.fm’s success include its interactivity, aggressive marketing, and a tightly managed editorial strategy. We have appointed Lelani Boshoff as our editor and she has implemented an excellent strategy that keeps the audience engaged with the music and other content on the site.
We have dovetailed our marketing and editorial strategies to deliver value to both our listeners and our advertisers. For example, we have implemented an artist directory on Ja.fm with details of close to 70 Afrikaans artists. Not only does it draw in search engine traffic, but it also gives plenty of value to our users.
The interactivity is the magic ingredient in the Ja.fm recipe. Internet audiences don’t just want to passively consume content – they want to play a role in shaping it. Voting for content keeps them passionate and excited about the music, and keeps them coming back for more.
Ja.fm’s success illustrates a viable business model for niche online music offerings in South Africa. With its reach into the market, engaged audience and rich user data, it is a great opportunity for targeted advertising.
Attila Bernariusz is divisional head of Kagiso Digital.