AfroCharts: Indigenous African music streaming platform

May 11, 2021 00:13:37
AfroCharts: Indigenous African music streaming platform
Built in Africa
AfroCharts: Indigenous African music streaming platform
/

Hosted By

Emmanuel Paul

Show Notes


This episode is brought to you by Whogohost WordPress Hosting. Visit builtin.africa/whogohost and use coupon code BUILTINAFRICA to get 25% off on any annual plan.


FULL TRANSCRIPT

Narrator: I remember ten years ago when African music didn’t get as much global attention as it does now. Interestingly, now that I think of it, it wasn’t because of a lack of talent or content. So, I wonder what has changed. Well, your guess is as good as mine.

But Africa now has a growing youth population, exceptional music talents, unique genres, and streaming companies. Africa’s music industry is doing so well that global companies are eager to sign deals with artistes to get a share of their earnings. 

Guess what? Streaming made up 62.3% of the $21.5 billion revenue made by the global music industry in 2020. 

If you ask me, digital distribution was clearly the game-changer. And the good thing is that apart from foreign platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, and Shazam, local streaming platforms are also contributing their quota.

On this episode of Built in Africa, we explore how indigenous music streaming platform, AfroCharts, is offering unreached African music talents the opportunity to get paid for their content.

Narrator: Burundi-born Leonard Novati, AfroCharts founder, lived his early life in Tanzanian refugee camps because of the constant civil wars in his home country. During his stay, music was one of the things he loved doing asides from other menial jobs he did to make ends meet, so he stuck with that on reaching the US in 2007 at the age of 16.

However, he needed to fuel his thirst for entrepreneurship. But what were his options: become a musician, a music producer, or a disc jockey (DJ). Eventually, Leonard chose to make a living from DJing for some reason.

Leonard Novati: When I got here where there was so much technology, I thought I could sing like most young kids, young boys and girls, I tried that, it didn’t work. And then I tried to open a recording studio, it didn’t work either. So, I’m like, well, I love music, I must share with the public. You know, somehow, I have to make people happy through music. If I cannot sing, I cannot produce, why don’t I become a DJ? From there, I started teaching myself to DJ.

Narrator: So, he founded a DJ company to make a living while in college and focused majorly on African music, which turned out to be his selling point. He often got invited to African and American events. 

While he trained himself to become a DJ, he graduated with a computer science degree and later became a web developer.

In 2014, he saw a need. People listening to his Afrobeats mix asked where they could get it, and some African artistes also contacted him to add their songs to his mix. That was when he had the idea for AfroCharts. But his first attempt wasn’t a success.

Leonard Novati: While I was in college, I actually tried to create something similar but for beats. Like an online beat-selling marketplace. Whether you’re an African or not, where you can sell your beats to the world. Artistes are looking for fresh beats. That failed. That was in 2014.

Narration: After that, he started brainstorming the idea for AfroCharts in 2016. 

Leonard Novati: All these streaming platforms, African listeners and artistes still feel like they’re left out. That’s when it hit me, I’m like why don’t we create our own platform? Our platform focuses on African artistes, African music listeners… I wanted to find a way that I’ll make it easier for the artistes themselves to share their music with the world and help the listeners to find the music that they want quick, fast and in a cheap way as well. That’s how I got into AfroCharts.

Narrator: This didn’t come to life until January 2020 when he officially launched the startup. So, what was his journey like?

Leonard Novati: Late August of 2016, that’s when I started writing the first code of AfroCharts., I started with the website and got everything going there. People did not take it as I hoped, so I went quiet in 2017 and 2018. But then I came back in 2019. I’m like now, I gotta add more features because at that time, I asked artistes to send us songs so we can upload them and that was very slow. We were not able to generate as much content as we wanted or we could so that our fans can keep up. They want to hear new stuff. But in 2019, that was when I came back and reinvented AfroCharts into where people can go directly, create an account, upload it on music. I put the website out there in January 2019, and then in April, I put out there the Android app. In August that same year, I put the first wording of the iPhone app. By December 2019, pretty much what was left was planning how we get this to the people. And then 2020 January that’s when I started getting a team.

Narrator: One year and four months later, AfroCharts already has a team of 12 including a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Bobola Odebiyi, and general managers in Nigeria, Zambia, zGhana, and South Africa.

He believes people were drawn to AfroCharts because it allowed them to sign up, request, and upload their content like on existing streaming platforms. 

However, because internationally-coveted platforms promise better exposure, AfroCharts found it difficult to get artistes on the platform. But, with time, it got easier. 

Still, Leonard does not consider big names in the music streaming scene as competitors because he has a different goal for AfroCharts. Up-and-coming African musicians often drown among the big sharks, but AfroCharts gives them the exposure. 

Right from when the idea for AfroCharts became clear, Leonard began building the web version. 

It doesn’t matter when you got your idea, like Leonard, it is not too early to give your business an online presence. So, you definitely need a website. And since WordPress powers over 26% of the  top 10,000 websites, you can’t go wrong with Whogohost’s tailor-made WordPress hosting plan.

Powered by Nginx and Amazon Web Services, Whogohost WordPress hosting is designed to give your website that extra speed boost that will have you ranking at the top of search results in no time.

For no more than ₦4000 (less than $10) monthly, you get WordPress pre-installed with unlimited SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth, 24/7 support and a free SSL certificate.

Insane right? It gets better. If you visit builtin.africa/whogohost and use coupon code BUILTINAFRICA to pay for any annual plan, Whogohost will shave 25% off and throw in a free .ng domain, which comes in handy if you want your website to rank better in Nigeria.

So what are you waiting for? Head over now to builtin.africa/whogohost and to supercharge your WordPress website. Don’t forget to use coupon BUILTINAFRICA, as one word.

Narrator: Few months later, the team released the app versions in stages; the Android version first, then the iOS.

 AftoCharts’ selling point is its coverage. The startup made it a point to focus on the whole continent — all 54 African countries — instead of a few popular markets.

AfroCharts’ highest streaming traffic comes from Zambia. Leonard explains why this doesn’t surprise him.

Leonard Novati: We arrived there at the right time because now, artistes are looking for ways to make money on the Internet. They have                                                                                                                  so many music blogs and artistes are realising I can make money from my music on the Internet, but they don’t have a way to get on Apple or Spotify. That’s one of the things we’re doing. Coming from the countries where other platforms have abandoned, working closely with the artistes, helps them understand that they can make money from their music.

Narrator: Considering the progress the platform has made — we’re talking about 7000 artistes and over 4 million subscribers — AfroCharts plans to continue tapping into the opportunities in uncharted territories.

Understandably, AfroCharts didn’t receive the much-desired reception at first. So, the first effort in 2020, which was very demanding, was to get creators. But thanks to Leonard’s strategy, the situation has improved.

Leonard Novati: We have what we call the General Manager structure, so we got people in six countries working locally with artistes with music labels, telling them what AfroCharts is, what it’s doing, how beneficial it can be to them. But now, we happen to see them coming on board without having to reach out to them.

Like several new African startups, AfroCharts is yet to get any form of external funding. Having run so far on bootstrapped funds, the platform has made some revenue from ads. 

In January 2021, the team decided to properly monetise the platform by adding the premium subscription model.

To stay competitive, AfroCharts offers the premium package at $1.99, which will likely change as the startup grows.

Meanwhile, artistes get paid $20 for every 5000 streams, similar to what the likes of Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music charge.

In the next two years, AfroCharts is looking to add new features like tipping, online radio, podcasts, and live stream to give comedians an opportunity.

With access to increasing data, the startup is considering another monetisation plan by partnering with businesses. Here’s one of such.

Leonard Novati: There’s this company in South Africa,(Please, cut out the name of the company and product) they just launched a new product. What they’re trying to do is an all-in-one platform, pay-as-you-go model. In order to do that, they need products, which is music, video. One of the things we want to do is to offer them access to our music library where they can offer to their users and then pay as they listen while they pay per month. And from there, we split the revenue which then comes back to the artistes.”

Narrator: Asides that, in time, it may also bring telcos on board. 

Maybe it is probably too early to count its successes, but AfroCharts has successfully paid some artistes whose uploads are doing well. 

On protecting music copyrights, the platform works with music distributors, local music labels, and management companies to reduce the possibility of copyright violations now and in the future.

AfroCharts is currently in the process of partnering with some big music record labels and licensing companies in South Africa like Capasso and Samro, and ultimately Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music.

Thank you for listening to Built In Africa.

This script was adapted by Kolawole Oluwanifemi and edited by Precious Mogoli

Research and interview by Kolawole Oluwanifemi 

Sound design by Oghenekaro Obrutu

This is a production of Techpoint Africa

I am Precious Mogoli

Please subscribe, share and drop a review of this podcast, by searching for ‘Built in Africa’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also email us feedback at [email protected]

Other Episodes

Episode

December 07, 2020 00:12:25
Episode Cover

M-Lugha: Building digital interactive apps in African native languages

Build the money of the future at https://currency.techpoint.africa/ Additional music from www.zapsplat.com. Photo Credit: Global Partnership for Education – GPE Flickr via Compfight FULL TRANSCRIPT [Voices: Call and response] Narrator: The voices you just heard are from a regular pre-primary class in rural Kenya. Only that the language of instruction is neither English nor Kiswahili, the two officially recognised languages of instruction in the country. Teaching in Kiswahili or English is not an issue if you were in Nairobi, Mombasa, or the 30% of counties that make up urban Kenya. But for kids in the remaining 70% of counties, it’s definitely inconvenient.   Abdinoor Almahdi: Imagine walking into a classroom, you’re just like me (I only know Somali) but the syllabus is in English or in Swahili or in French or some other countries like Rwanda and Djibouti. It’s like adding insult to injury. Narrator: That’s Abdinoor Almahdi, a Kenyan information technologist and telecommunications engineer, and the brain behind Kenyan edtech startup, M-Lugha. On this episode of Built in Africa, we tell the story of a young innovator building digital interactive apps in several Kenyan native languages, to support early childhood learning, despite locational challenges. Abdinoor grew up in Northern Kenya, a predominantly nomadic and pastoralist region, where most of the people speak only either Somali/Kalenji, as opposed to the country’s official languages of English and Kiswahili.  Abdinoor Almahdi: And actually it is almost 80% of the landmass  of Kenya. When I say ‘Northern Kenya’, we’re talking about almost 10 counties. And it’s where actually they experience the most severe educational crisis because of the socio-economic issues we have, from famine to droughts, sometimes flooding ...

Listen

Episode

July 13, 2022 00:11:32
Episode Cover

Rentit: A marketplace for urgent needs

On this episode of Built in Africa, we'll be looking at how Nigerian rental marketplace, Rentit , helps people rent goods and cut down the cost of buying to meet really temporary needs.  I have a special offer for you from the guys at Magic Mind. All you have to do is go to: https://www.magicmind.co/biaAnd use my discount code at checkout BIA20 to get a limited 20% off your first order ...

Listen

Episode

October 05, 2020 00:10:34
Episode Cover

BACE Group: Tackling identity theft in Africa

Credits:Underneath the World by Mid-Air Machine www.freemusicarchive.orgAdditional sound effects from www.zapsplat.com FULL TRANSCRIPT …… A typical conversation between a fraudster and a prospective victim .. [SFX] Phone rings … picks. Frausdter: Good day sir, my name  is James, from Access Bank. Am I speaking with Mr Koffi Zawadi? Customer: Yes, you are. How can I help you? Fraudster: Yeah, so there’s a problem with your account verification and I’m calling to walk you through it.  Customer: Hope I don’t have to be coming to your bank? I’m very busy.  Fraudster: No sir, all you need to do is give us some details. I can see you live at No. 6 Ozumba Mbadiwe and your date of birth is 5th of July, 1987.  Customer: Yes, correct. Fraudster: Okay, just provide me with your BVN, and ATM card details. Customer: ATM card details and BVN? Why? Fraudster: It’s for verification, sir. Don’t you want to sort out your problem? Customer: See, you think I don’t know who you are?… (hurls insults and fades out) Narrator: If you’ve received such a call before, you probably know at least ten people who have also. And this is because these types of calls are pretty rampant. But have you ever wondered how these people know your name, your address, and sometimes your account details?  On this episode of Built in Africa, we delve into how Ghanaian based startup, BACE Group (spelt as BACE) uses state of the art technology to tackle the problem of identity theft in Africa. As the African continent comes to grips with new technologies, research has shown that its people and companies are highly susceptible to cyber thefts and fraud. These incidents are rarely reported by companies, so it’s actually difficult ...

Listen