The idea for Mkito.com matured over a number of years, says Mushendwa:”We needed a platform in Tanzania to distribute music digital. The original idea was to create a payment system that would work for Tanzania but luckily we got mobile money.”
The platform now has 200 artists and more are signing up every day but “there’s not been much emphasis on signing up online. Nearly all of these artists have been signed up directly face-to-face”.
“Since we’ve launched, artists have started signing up online. For smaller artists there’s no other means of distributing their music. Bigger artists need convincing as most have other ways of making sales.”
The music selection is currently not heavily curated:”We don’t choose the music we have. We’ll carry any music if the quality is good enough.” Music genres on the platform include: bongo flava, tana, pop music and reggae. Bongo flava, which could be described as the pop music of Tanzania, makes up 40% of the catalogue.”
Each artist has space for a biography and they can submit their own biographies:”We’re expecting to see people tell us about their releases.”
The main business model is free music supported by advertising with some premium conent:”We did a number of tests and the users didn’t want to pay for music. So much music is available for free. So you get free downloads but they have 5-7 second ads attached to them from the big brands like beer and mobile companies.” But alongside this free content is a stream of premium pay-for content.
The split in the short period since the launch is 90% free tracks and 10% pay for:”We’re very interested in having exclusive releases.” The free strategy is also aimed at generating the ambitious 1 million registered user base target they have set themselves in the first year. When we spoke on Day 6 they had 1,000 users, most of whom had found the platform through social media. It has only just started its online ad campaign.
So will it concentrate just on Tanzania?:”To start with we will focus on Tanzania. There’s 7-8 million online users in Tanzania and there’s also neighbouring countries and the diaspora. Bongo flava is popular in both Kenya and Tanzania.”
Credit: Survey Monkey TV.