Only technology holds the key to music distribution in Africa

Digital distribution will be a big revenue stream for music artists in Africa by 2020, predicts digital music company Africori, with percentage revenues from live performances expected to decline.

The company has estimated that digital music distribution will comprise 30 percent of revenues, with 40 percent gained through live performances. Music rights and publishing will account for 5 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Currently, live music entertainment constitutes over 85 percent of revenue for artists, though analysts expect this to change over time.

During his presentation of the Mobile Entertainment Africa conference, Yoel Kenan, the CEO of Africori, depicted the digital explosion, including through feature- and smart-phones, as signalling a shift in music distribution modes.

Africori, which helps artists to distribute their songs and music lovers to access their favourite tracks, admits that there is a problem in music distribution in Africa.

“We love African music but also know firsthand how difficult it can be to access the songs you are after,” the company said in a post.

Selling music in Africa comes with challenges, including low popular interest in buying music, the proliferation of piracy in the industry and artists being unable to raise funds for proper distribution.

There has already been a shift to the digitalisation of music distribution in Africa, which Africori predicts will only accelerate over time.

In Kenya, companies such as Cellulant and Mobile Planet are already opting to sell music through premium SMS services, with songs usually marketed as ringtones or ring back tones. Safaricom’s SkizaTunes is another such service, with the company sharing its revenue with artists.

Meanwhile Iroko Partners has made its name on the continent by introducing distribution channels for audio and visual entertainment which rely heavily on technology to make local music and movies available to consumers.

The yet-to-be-launched Ghanaian music streaming service Streemio is expected to add more competition to the African market, where startups like Spinlet, Zikify, Simfy and Orange’s Dezeer have already set up shop.

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