Music fans in Senegal can now access their favorite songs at their fingertips with a brand new service.
MusikBi, which bills itself as the first legal platform for selling music in Africa, allows customers to buy songs by sending an SMS with the code of the chosen song. An account is automatically created and users receive a download link via SMS.
The developers say MusikBi – which means “music” in the Wolof language widely spoken in Senegal and neighboring Gambia – was created with the aim of promoting local artists, helping them get paid properly for their work and protecting them. widespread piracy.
“The idea came about because there was a very strong need among artists for a way to show their music,” says Moustapha Diop, CEO of Solid, the Dakar-based IT company that launched the service.
“I am also a musician and I was sensitive to this question. Artists can’t really enjoy their albums because of piracy and lack of a good distribution network,” he adds.
Each song costs between 300 and 500 CFA (about $0.50 and $0.80) depending on the artist. The amount is deducted from customers’ airtime as is the case with many other services across the continent, circumventing the problem of low banking penetration.
“Other solutions we’ve seen before depended on bank payments, via visa or MasterCard, but in Senegal most people don’t have a bank account,” says Diop. “However, everyone has a mobile phone and it’s easy to buy music with it, that was the particularity of our solution”, he adds. Payment is also possible via PayPal.
Revenues are shared between the artists, MusikBi, and the telephone operator, which pockets between 30 and 70% of the sum.
“It’s a lot, and the artists think it’s too much, but it’s still better than the alternatives that were available before,” says Diop.
The African music scene has recently started to attract the attention of global giants. This week, Sony Music Entertainment announcement it opened an office in Lagos as part of a broader strategy to expand its presence across the continent. The Nigerian office is designed to act as a hub for all operations in West Africa, and Sony says it is also signing up to do business in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, which will anchor its business in West Africa. ballast.
MusikBi officially launched on Wednesday, but has been live and growing steadily since mid-November, racking up over 1,000 downloads to date.
So far, it lists around 600 songs from a diverse group of artists, including internationally acclaimed musicians like Coumba Gawlo Seck and Duggy Tee, one of Africa’s most famous hip hop stars.
The platform was fully developed by the Diop company, which means they can customize their service based on the customer’s response.
Artists receive real-time reports on each time their song has been downloaded: “If someone buys a track, musicians see their earnings on our platform at the same time the sale is made,” says Diop.
The entrepreneur says that after a successful experience in Senegal, his company plans to introduce the service in Ivory Coast in the coming months, with Mali then being lined up.