THE FACES BEHIND MY MUSIC.COM.NG
In Nigeria, the music industry produces an average of 550 music albums yearly, with experts projecting that the value of country’s entertainment industry would hit one billion dollars by 2016. The Nigerian population is estimated at 173 million of which about 81 million people access the Internet via mobile phones. Indeed, the Nigerian Communications Commission is in talks with stakeholders like MyMusic.com.ng to propose a digital copyright piracy bill to the National Assembly. The bill, called the Nigerian Copyright Act, will impose strict sanctions on digital copyright offenders while aiming to protect content owners. Created by twin brothers Dolapo and Damola Taiwo and their good friend, Tola Ogunsola, MyMusic.com.ng is a commercial music download service that aims to provide a legitimate means to digitally distribute Nigerian music while reducing privacy and ensuring that authors are rewarded for their work. The platform was launched in Lagos on June 3, 2015, following a previous presentation in November 2013 of an early version of their platform at the Dublin Web Summit, and a demonstration of the finished product at the Mobile West Africa Conference 2015. Three years ago, CNN featured MyMusic.com.ng as one of the African businesses to look out for on their programme Market Place AFRICAN START-UP. MyMusic.com.ng is presented on both mobile and web platforms and features multiple payment methods like the direct airtime credit billing, tailored to deal with the unique challenges of the Nigerian market, a largely cash-only society. The web platform provides users with the opportunity to download tracks and albums, as well as songs from playlists while creating theirs, and registering and managing their profiles. Payment can be made globally with a credit card or through mobile airtime credit. Adebimpe Adebambo chatted with the trio behind the platform about their progress and challenges so far.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves including your job description at
MyMusic.com.ng and why you decided to found this platform?
I am Damola Taiwo, the Chief Operating Officer.
I am Dolapo Taiwo, the Chief Technology Officer.
I am Tola Ogunsola, the Chief Executive Officer.
We started MyMusic because we realized that the huge market and massive potential of the music industry in Nigeria was not well tapped into. The artistes produced several big hits yearly and have huge followings but made little to no revenue from their music. We came in to try to plug that gap.
You started out officially three years ago and even got noticed and featured on CNN AFRICAN START-UPS. What impact has the feature had on your business?
The CNN feature gave us a lot of credibility and allowed people to take us more seriously. It greatly contributed to getting us many partnerships.
What have been your challenges so far as young entrepreneurs working in Nigeria?
The main challenges have been the usual, which is the lack of infrastructure, and access to resources. It is very difficult trying to start a business in Nigeria because you are literally on your own and have to provide everything for yourself. So only passion and conviction can take you to the next level.
Do you have financiers or is the business self-funded, and how easy was it to sell the idea to telecommunication companies as a young start-up?
The idea is self-funded so far. It definitely took much of our time and resources trying to sell the idea to the telcos. To put it fairly, it took us a little over three years to have all the 4 telcos on board and fully integrated.
How do you intend to ensure Nigerians pay for songs they listen to and get your return on investment especially as most Nigerians are used to downloading music free even from pirate sites?
What we are trying to do is to provide a legitimate and convenient means for consuming and paying for music. We have created a 1-click payment and download system where users can download and pay at the same time with their mobile phone credit. The songs are also moderately priced at N30 each. We figured if we can give users a much better experience than the free platforms, as well as provide excellent music discovery, the vast majority will prefer to pay than receive it for free from less convenient means.
You have competition in bigger companies like Spinlet, how you do get musicians to trust your company and utilize your platform?
We believe the market is large enough and from our deductions, the artistes so far are comfortable working with us and see value and potential in what we are proposing to them. We presently have all the major Nigerian musicians on board the platform.
Are you fully in operation and do you accept all genres of music or have preferences?
We are fully operational and accept all genres of music. In fact, we have old school music from the 60s. We are constantly building up our song bank, as well as capacity to accept more genres, and not just popular music.
How far back in time are you going with the music on your platform and how will you secure the trust of the older Nigerian musicians?
We have music from as far back as the 60s, 70s and 80s. We believe if we can deliver value to the veterans by proving to them that they can still earn decent revenue from their catalogues, then we will secure their trust even more. We are already on the path to achieving that.
Where do you initiate and seal deals with the musicians; concerts, nightclubs or music studios?
These days most of our musicians are getting very structured and more tech savvy. Some have offices where we have partnership discussions. We also take the conversation online sometimes. However, we’ve also signed others while relaxing over a good drink or having dinner.
From your experience, what kind of music do Nigerians want to listen to, and that will get profits rising?
I believe many young Nigerians who make up the majority of the population will opt for popular music like dance-Afrobeat. However, there is also a fast growing, discerning population that will rather listen to more relaxing and alternative genres. Gospel music is also very big in Nigeria.
What is on your individual playlists?
Damola: I listen to a lot of jazz, soul and gospel. I also have some Olamide, Davido and Wizkid, mostly for when I’m on the road driving.
Dolapo: I like classical and ‘Naija’ music. I also have some very traditional music playing once in a while.
Tola: I’m a huge fan of R&B especially R.Kelly and Usher. I also enjoy neosoul and always have the likes of Maxwell and India Arie playing every now and again.
What should we expect from MyMusic.com.ng in the nearest future?
You can expect MyMusic.com.ng to become the major source of consumption of music by Nigerians. We also hope to expand to other African countries within a year.
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