The first African platform for legal music downloads was launched in Senegal with the mission of promoting African artists, remunerating them properly and fighting against Internet piracy.
Internationally renowned musicians such as Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal are among nearly 200 who have signed agreements with MusikBias well as young rappers, jazz artists and Christian and Muslim singers.
The platform takes its name from the word for music in Wolof, the language widely spoken in Senegal and neighboring Gambia, project promoter Moustapha Diop said at the launch in Dakar on Wednesday.
The songs cost between 300 and 500 CFA francs (50-85 US cents) and users can download them using mobile phone credit in an area where few people have bank cards.
“This is the first platform of its kind that allows music to be downloaded via SMS or PayPal,” said a statement from Diop’s company, Solid.
Solid noted that many African musical artists “cannot live comfortably off the proceeds of their work”, adding that the platform offers a chance for “promotion and enabling them to make a living from their art”.
The concerts were one of the few ways for local artists to really make money, the firm noted.
Piracy and changing consumer habits have led to a plunge in record sales across the continent, with illegal downloads prompting African consumers to search for music online while copyright enforcement remains relatively weak .
A source within the Solid group told AFP that after mobile operators took their cut, artists kept 60% of their revenue from the service, while MusikBi took the remaining 40%.
MusikBi does not offer a streaming service because local internet speeds make it difficult to use the format, especially in a mobile-centric market.