Have you heard the latest track by Frasha? Or the new songs of Octopizzo, Jua Cali or P-Unit? They are popular local Kenyan artists that try to make a living by performing and by selling their songs. Their future looks just a little bit brighter, as a great new mobile music service has launched: Mdundo.com. The best way to describe it? iTunes, Kenya-style!
Artists like Mejja, Collo, Juliani, KenRazy, Alpha Msanii, Caltoz and Nazizi now have a new way to sell their music, via Mdundo. Music fans buy a Mdundo (Swahili for ‘African beat’) scratchcard, get online, enter the code on the card and download great new music to their mobile phones.
“Mdundo is kicking music into the stratosphere by taking the side of the artist”, the website claims. Mdundo’s Diana Owusu-Kyereko explains: “Our download service is not the first in Kenya, as many telco’s offer similar products. The big difference is that local artists really benefit from our service. Other mobile music services keep 85-90% of sales of the songs. Way too much, it is not fair to the artists that try to make a living with their music. On Mdundo they keep 100% of the money they make by selling cards.”
Eager to listen
Mdundo’s is still small – it’s just Diana and her Danish colleague Martin Nielsen –
but has big plans. Its business plan is based on the fact that young Kenyans love to listen to the music of their local idols on their mobile phones. As the mobile market is well developed – many Kenyans are fond users of mobile internet and services – distributing music through this channel is big business. “We launched just a few weeks ago and the trials are in full swing. We just passed the mark of 500 downloads. Our artists – who get scratchcards at no cost thanks to our sponsor Airtel – sell the cards to their fans at about 100 Kenyan Shillings (about € 0,90, ed.) a piece. One scratchcard allows for five downloads.”
How is the young company going to make money when artists takes all revenues from the cards? “The next step is to sell online, via M-Pesa, Kenya’s mobile money, and PayPal. That is where the artist reaches a larger audience and we take a % cut of 70/30 in our favour or 50/50 if the artist signs an exclusive deal with us.”
After hiphop: gospel
Mdundo’s currently partners with 35 artists, but Diana insists there will be many more. “Right now a lot of the artists we cover are in the hiphop scene; our next step is to get Kenya’s gospel artists aboard. “All artists work hard for their money. Most of them have to take up other activities or find sponsorships to make enough money. Mdundo tries to aid them to make a living from their music. We can enlarge their audience to all of Africa and even further, to people all over the world that like African music and want to buy it online.”
How do you feel about the mobile music services in Africa?