Mdundo scratch cards come with special codes that allow users to download a certain number of tracks from a database onto their phone.
The startup, funded by the 88MPH accelerator programme, already has 30 Kenyan artists offering their music for sale through the platform. Octopizzo, a Kenyan rap artist, is the latest to release his music through scratch cards.
With this model, artists keep 100 percent of the cash generated from sales of the scratch cards. They can also make up to 50 percent of revenue generated from future online sales, where Mdundo will have a revenue split plan with the artists.
The usual way of music distribution has been through the sale of CDs, which is not a major source of income for artists in Africa. Illegal downloads have had a huge negative effect on music sales.
The latest digital distribution channel has been through premium SMSs. This model has been disadvantageous to the artists, with the mobile telecom companies taking 70 to 80 percent of the revenue.
Mdundo Head of Operations Martin Nielsen believes that this new distribution model gives more control to the artists.
Speaking to HumanIPO, Nielsen said there are two types of cards, one for general downloads and others for specific artists. Music lovers can purchase the cards from the artists right after their concerts, along with other merchandise such as shirts and posters.
Nielsen said that they are sponsored by Airtel to manufacture the scratch cards. The minimum number of cards given to a single artist is 5,000. Nielsen said that they have to assess an artist’s ability to distribute the cards through their concerts.
During a presentation at the Mobile Entertainment Africa conference Yoel Kenan, the CEO of Africori, hinted that the biggest revenue model for artists will soon be digital distribution, a prediction that Mdundo is bargaining on as it looks to change digital music distribution in Africa.