Piracy and poor distribution infrastructure have been the bane of musicians in several African countries. A lot of artistes have returned to hustling even after having mega hits that achieved “national anthem” status. But artistes may have found a saviour in mobile technology. Afterall, what’s technology if not something to help solve problems? TechZim reported
Piracy and poor distribution infrastructure have been the bane of musicians in several African countries. A lot of artistes have returned to hustling even after having mega hits that achieved “national anthem” status.
But artistes may have found a saviour in mobile technology. Afterall, what’s technology if not something to help solve problems?
TechZim reported a story recently about how local Hip Hop superstar, Junior Brown, is using a simple combination of WhatsApp and mobile money to monetise his music.
The story goes, Junior Brown’s latest single, Tongogara, is being distributed via WhatsApp for $1 with fans paying for the track via mobile money. In less than a week, the track has earned the artiste over US$5,000.
Initially, Junior Brown shared a brief promo clip of the Tongogara track on social media, with a call to action for pre-orders. The buzz around the track spiked when a live radio station recording at Star FM was also shared online two days later, creating a strong engagement, especially on Facebook where it generated over 40,000 views.
On the same day, the advert for pre-orders to the track was also shared on the same familiar platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) with an mp3 version of the track scheduled for delivery to buyers on the 12th of February. Fans were asked to send $1 via mobile money to a specific number as well as their name to the same number for purposes of identification.
In the five days after the advert was posted, over 5,000 paid-up orders were processed, earning over US$5,000 for the single, a number which Junior Brown’s team hadn’t anticipated. According to Kuda Musasiwa, Junior Brown’s executive producer and the coordinator of this new content distribution route, the entire approach was actually an experiment inspired by the massive following Junior Brown has on social media.
I think there’s much to learn from this. There are hundreds of artists who enjoy massive following on social media. A few of them use their platforms to engage their fan base on a regular basis, (e.g. Don Jazzy and Falz of Nigeria). Yet there’s very little monetisation (if any at all) happening on those platforms. Notice how radio airplay was used to complement social media engagement? There’s a cohesive formula in there that would ensure social media and messaging apps produce profits for artistes.
WhatsApp doesn’t allow you to transfer funds but that may change along the line. Facebook is already positioning messenger as a direct service channel for advertisers, and money transfer was activated last year in the US which should spill over to other regions soon. Mobile money options and mobile financial service aggregators are also many in Africa. WeChat now allows money transfer right inside the app. And so on. If you look hard enough, you can find ways to get paid for your art.
For artistes signed on to big record labels, this may not look too attractive, but that doesn’t stop the record labels themselves from experimenting. In fact, they should experiment if they are interested in increasing their streams of revenue. Social media and mobile money may just be an untapped gold mine for music sales. For indie artistes, this is a no-brainer.
The lesson is clear – even artistes have to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. With mobile phone penetration on the rise, internet access density also on the increase and a plethora of messaging services with millions of users, everything artistes need to make profits off their music is available. What’s left is some creativity and doggedness – staples of the entrepreneurial life.
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