Promotional Banner for a musician on Fezah App. Image Credit: Fezah
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Described as the “the simplest way to book a musician, band or DJ for your event”, Fezah is natively an Android app but also available as a desktop web version. You can use it to browse through a portfolio of entertainers and request them to perform at your occasion.

The app currently features 100 artists in Uganda and Kenya in over 10 distinctive music genres and has, since its launch, recorded over 1,500 user-downloads from the Android Play Store – a number that probably rocketed after introducing a desktop web version of the app, and very likely after Fezah emerged as the “Most Innovative Mobile App” of 2015, at last year’s MTN Innovation Awards.

We caught up with the founders, Ham Namakajjo and Elijah Kitaka to follow up and find out how Fezah is doing post the Award win, how it has developed since and what more is in store.

The developers say the app seems indisputably favorable for fans but what we want to know is how it really simplifies the overall booking process?

If we are to take their word for it, Fezah will accelerate the task in 5 different ways.

Fezah App's design as it appears on smartphones and tablets.
Fezah App’s design as it appears on smartphones and tablets.
  1. Save time by narrowing down searches from a minimum of four to only one source

Usually, it is quite a hustle and involves quite some back and forth until desired entertainer is booked, let alone finding the right contact details and finally getting in touch with managers or agents, especially for the Juliana’s and Bebe Cool’s [the biggest names] in the music game.

Fezah’s directory offers a collection of various artists (musicians, bands and DJs) accompanied by their bios, pricing information, availability, reviews as well as audio and video samples ready at your disposal in just a few clicks.

  1. State your occasion and have artists come to you

Should one not know which entertainer they would like to invite to an occasion, or perhaps who would be suitable, using the ‘broadcast’ feature of Fezah, users can share information about their event i.e. dates, location, budget and preferred genre to which artists interested and available for the gig can then respond.

This gives the indecisive user a starting point by providing a shortlist of entertainers for his/her consideration which renders contacting entertainers individually or asking around for recommendations of who would best serve the purpose, redundant, thus speeding up the search process immensely.”

  1. Put an end to late-comers and no-shows
Fezah's Ham Namakajjo is the former Country Manager of Google Uganda
Fezah’s Ham Namakajjo is the former Country Manager of Google Uganda

Ever planned an event or went to see a concert and waited on a singer or dancers until everyone was too tired or drunk to enjoy the entertainment, or in some cases they even went home because in the end the entertainer was a no-show? If you live in Uganda, you have witnessed firsthand that time management and reliability are scarce.

If you are lucky, you get a heads up call with a white lie for an excuse, but at least you can come up with an alternative or inform guests accordingly. If you’re unlucky, your angry guests will eat you alive with their looks wondering when (why) their Radio and Weasel or Irene Ntale will (did not) arrive. In most cases you will have nothing to do about it except call managers just to find out how they could care less, and the entertainer themselves you will probably never reach. But be frustrated no more.

Each artist registered with Fezah is assigned a ‘quality score’ based on user ratings of the artist’s past live performances and a ‘reliability score’ based on the behaviour an artist exhibited, including timekeeping, appropriate dress code, and special requests fulfillment at past confirmed bookings.

Because of the scoring methodology, artists booked via Fezah have a stronger incentive to show up on time for a gig and give a great performance, as this increases their overall rating and ranking, and will ultimately lead to more bookings,” CEO Ham Namakajjo notes.

So if the artist you book does not show up to your graduation party, conference, introduction, wedding, end of year party and whichever event you’re holding is a flop, you don’t have to hope earth swallows you until everyone forgets about the incident. No. You can go right ahead and – I want to say show revenge – but for professional purposes let’s just say: you can hold entertainers accountable. 

  1. Quit playing uncomfortable dodge-ball games about payment

Another inevitable evil is people becoming unrecognizable on due or pay day. Unfortunately stories of musicians accepting money but not showing up to perform are not just an event organiser’s worst fear, they are nightmares that come to life in Uganda.

Co-founder Elijah Kitaka; also a former Googler.
Co-founder Elijah Kitaka; also a former Googler.

To flip the coin, an entertainer showing up yet leaving the event with no compensation or just a fraction is no rare occasion either (But can you blame them? The disposability of the Shilling is plummeting and it is evident across the board). To blame them or not is a question for everyone to debate subjectively.

However, what you can certainly do with Fezah and should do is prevent such scenarios from happening.

The app takes care of administrative operations behind the final performance, by providing low commission contracting and escrow services to safeguard payment. Once a booking request is accepted by an artist, the customer is required to pay Fezah, which then confirms to the artist that their money has been received.

Only until the artist has delivered their performance under the agreed conditions, is the money released to them or their management. If the performer is not punctual or does not show up at all, the client receives a full or partial refund of their initial payment from Fezah. 

  1. Terms and conditions you cannot easily scroll past

That kind of reciprocity seems to be something one can observe as a core theme in the Fezah app. As we might know, booking entertainment is not only hard on the fans, the managers and agents go through their fair share of trouble to find their artists gigs and ensure that audiences and payment will be guaranteed. So Fezah also works to cater to the managerial needs in the entertainment industry.

By giving fans direct access to request their entertainment, Fezah additionally relieves the manager as middleman of the stressful duty of sourcing bookings and artists are presented with gigs in just a few clicks, again saving time and energy and allowing them to shift focus on different tasks. 

Ham Namakajjo emphasises that the app’s objective is not to bypass or eliminate the manager but rather Fezah seeks to channel communication between the user and artist or manager, the ultimate plan being “to eventually make this self service process end-to-end.”

This is Part I of as series of three interview segments to be published throughout the next days. Part II will look at the onset of the app, how it was funded, developed, named and designed. Don’t miss Fezah, the Journey: “We are on our 44th beta version of the app currently”.