Africa has for a long time been plagued with issues of internet piracy when it comes to both its music and its movies. While the movie arena has received a bit of attention over the years which saw for instance in Nollywood (Nigeria’s movie industry) the rise of IrokoTV and Afrinolly which functioned and function as a kind of online marketplace for Nigerian movies. What such things do for an industry is to create a kind of security blanket for the people involved in it, they are in essence assured of a stream of income.
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With African music however, the battle had almost left our artistes near defeated, with only the ones able to put up shows or be invited for performances, assured of any kind of income from their creative properties. On Wednesday however, Africa’s first home-grown platform for legal music downloads launched in Senegal with a mission to promote African artistes. They look to pay them properly and fight the dirge of internet piracy. Already, internationally famous acts like Youssou Ndour and Baaba Maal along with 200 other musicians have signed agreements with the platform developer, Moustapha Diop.
The name of the platform is “MusikBi” and its open to different genres and acts ranging from young rappers, jazz artists, gospel or religious music and just any and every type of African music. The songs cost between 300 and 500 FCFA which is an equivalent of 50 to 85 Us cents and users can purchase the songs using mobile phone credit in situations or regions where bank cards are not readily available. Moustapha Diop informs that the platform draws its name from the word for music in Wolof (widely spoken language in Senegal and neighboring Gambia).
In a statement released by Diop’s company Solid, they said; “It is the first platform of its kind enabling music downloads by text or PayPal,” adding that many African musicians cannot live on the proceeds from their work and so the platform therefore presented an opportunity for “promotion and to allow them to make a living from their art.” A source within the Solid group told AFP that after the mobile operators must have taken their share, artistes get to keep 60 percent of their income from the service, while MusikBi took the remaining 40 percent. The platform does not offer a streaming service as local internet speeds are prohibitive for the format, especially in a mobile-driven market.