Will streaming services focused on particular genres or geographies ever be more than a niche? The jury’s still very much out on that one, but we can say that in 2021 there are a growing number of services giving it a go. Two more this week, One Drop and MapleStream, are the latest examples of the trend.

One Drop’s focus is on reggae, dancehall and other Jamaican music genres. It has soft-launched as an iOS app offering audio and video – including livestreams – as well as podcasts. “It will stand out because it was created by Jamaicans, who know and understand our music and how it should be sequenced and curated,” promised CEO Norman Williams in an interview with DancehallMag.

The second new example is MapleStream, which as hinted by the name is focusing on Canadian music. Launched by Trebas Institute and Icebox Music, it is pitched as “a uniquely Canadian music streaming platform to ensure indie artists are recognised and fairly monetised” according to its head Rick Levine. “We can do it in Canada and show the rest of the world how to do to right.” It’s currently crowdfunding its way towards launch.

Jamaica’s musical heritage is rich indeed, and Canada has a proud history of support for its cultural industries, so both of these apps have strengths to build on. The challenge is to build a sustainable business from the listeners that they can attract, against a backdrop of the big, global services and their ability to hire more curators in to expand their coverage of particular genres and geographies as required.

It’s a daunting challenge, but we’re glad these and other startups are trying. More innovation on these very-focused DSPs can at the very least nudge the bigger players along, and if they can find workable business models to live alongside those 900lb gorillas, that would be a healthy thing for the industry too.

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