Spotify is on the verge of launching in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and with that comes news it will charge the local equivalent of about $5 per month , or half of what it charges in the US and Europe. But while some MENA countries have less affluent populations, several are far richer than the US and most European countries.
Spotify and other music streamers charge different rates in different regions, generally based on their ability to pay. When streamers charge less, labels and artists earn less, because they are paid based on a percentage of revenue. The theory behind lower prices is that making some money from the use of music in less affluent countries, which often also have high rates of piracy, is far more desirable than making no money.
But while some countries in MENA are poor, others are among the richest in the world.
It is not clear that Spotify is launching in all of the countries that make up MENA: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. Ethiopia and Sudan are also sometimes included.
But is it already operating as an "invite only service" in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The United Arab Emirates are among the richest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of $68,250 and Saudi Arabia ranks just behind the U.S. at 12th richest with a $55,260 GDP per capita. In Saudi Arabia and UAE, Spotify is said to be charging 19.99 Saudi Riyal and 19.99 dirham respectively, which is about $5.33 USD per month.
Other wealthy MENA countries include #1 Qatar at $124,930 GDP per capita, #7 Kuwait with $69,670 GDP per capita and #1 Bahrain at $51,850 GDP per capita.
Spotify will not be alone in charging almost half price to MENA users. Deezer and Arab based Anghami also charge around $5 per month.