Featured on CNN’s African Start Up, the trio of Tola Ogunsola, Damola Taiwo and Dolapo Taiwo are getting set to hit the Nigerian music space with the unique service of mymusic.com.ng-a music distribution service which comes with the ease of making payment for music albums and songs with a mobile phone call credit. With broadband connectivity on a gradual rise and a population of over 140 million, the potentials of a one stop music aggregation service is huge bearing in mind that there is no platform online where music of Nigerian origin can be sourced. Others like iROKONG, Spinlet have only just tried to scratch the surface. Mymusic.com.ng is indeed set to become Africa’s own iTunes.Set to launch in June, the co-founders speak with Exclusive Africa’s Wale Ameen on what inspired the idea, the journey to reality and much more.
EA: A warm welcome to you guys. Can we meet you?
Tola: My name is Tola Ogunsola, I am Co-founder of mymusic.com.ng. Mymusic is a music distribution service, my own background is in software development but lately I’ve been in the payment industry for about five years now. This is a product that is coming out of the need to help record labels and artists to monetize their creative works.
Damola: I am Damola Taiwo. I am also Co-founder of mymusic.com.ng. Like Tola was saying, what we are trying to do here is to involve the people who are unbanked people in Nigeria in digital transactions. So we are allowing them to pay for music using their mobile phone credits in a very simple way, so even though we still have other target markets as well, other sophisticated payments models, we hope our payment with mobile phone credit will be very popular. Because it’s something that has never been done anywhere in the world that I know of. Where someone can pay for a service with his mobile phone credits in just two easy steps. That is our unique selling point.
EA: So how did you come by the idea, what exactly inspired this?
Damola: For about six years now, I have been interested in developing some form of physical CD sales of Nigerian music ,like almost five years ago I was interested in that kind of project, it was difficult for people abroad to get Nigerian music. So I was interested in having a store where I can sell physical music CDs and Tola was thinking of a digital store as well and we spoke but we both were evasive as we had almost similar ideas. And then five years later we just popped up the idea again.
It was like a joke when we started but right now it’s real, we’ve been on this for two years and we are going to launch next month, which is June precisely. It’s going to be a big launch for the music industry. So that is really how we started.
EA: What’s the relationship like between you two, how did you two meet and all before this project came into the picture?
Tola: Put simply, we met in college and we’ve been friends ever since. We have been friends from college days and also neighbours. We were talking about the industry and that’s where we came up with this idea.
We just felt that things are coming into place for the music industry now, broadband is much better, there are more options in terms of mobile payments solutions and we have seen that in bringing those who are within the unbanked sector or to convert someone who is not a paying user to a paying one, you will have to offer them a painless payment process.
We’ve done extensive research on this and we believe there is a mass of people out there that will be willing to pay for music but currently do not have a viable alternative, some of what we have in the market presently are platforms with almost 10, 13 step processes just to get music and that is too much of a hassle for anyone.
EA: What is the framework like to ensure continuity and build on the momentum?
Tola: Let me give this clarification. This service is not just a service for Nigerians alone but for consumers of Nigerian music wherever they are so we have partnerships with payment platforms like Paypal and master card. So if you are making use of the service from outside the country, you will be able to make use of these payment methods that people already know like Paypal, Mastercard and Visa. But for Nigeria, because we don’t have many people carrying payment cards around, well not as much as you have out there, that is why we are adapting the payment processes to the different countries to reflect the realities of each place.
So in terms of continuity, we’ve been planning this for about two years, we’ve been working for two years, been doing research, refining the product. We’ve always had the end in mind on what we want to deliver, even though we’ve had to go through to do things that we shouldn’t ordinarily do to deliver the experience we want, we’ve been at it.
If we could have been on this project for two years, you can tell that we are fully in this. This is a long term project. We see the record labels and artists as partners, it makes it all solid.
EA: So who are the primary target audience of the service?
Tola: Locally in Nigeria, anyone that has a mobile phone and has Internet connectivity and is a music lover will be our target.
EA: Promotion strategies. What steps are you taking to make artists embrace the service and what’s in it for the artists?
What this does is to try to monetize the content of the artists and record labels and so what’s in it for them is shared revenue. What we do is we always try to convince the record label and artists and that is why we talk to them individually so that we can do a lot of cross promotion.
We have our platform, we promote our platform and so with the partnership, we promote their content and the artist and record labels also need to promote their own content on the platform. So that is how it works. And a lot of them have massive social media following which as it is they can’t easily monetize. If an artist releases a song now, there is really no viable platform where he can tell his fans to go and get his songs. So he or she can easily direct his followers on where to get his music.
EA: How do you see this service curbing piracy which is rampant these days?
Damola: In terms of music, the trend we’ve seen globally even in Nigeria is that if we approach piracy by restricting people from the way they access music by maybe locking it to a device, all you are going to do is to make it difficult for them to access a legitimate service. So what we do is this, we flood the market with the legitimate service and the users can decide whether they want to use this paid service but which is extremely easy to access or that they want to go through the route of free music which is always cumbersome and get malwares and viruses onto the system and of which the music quality is always poor.
So we believe that people who are motivated to steal music will continue to do so but if we provide a legitimate alternative but which is better than the free version, more people will choose to buy rather than to steal or get the free version.
EA: So how easy will it be for the everyday person on the street to access this service?
Damola: So for now we are not even building apps but we are only having a mobile site because we know that for the ordinary man out there, even though we know about apps, the man out there doesn’t know anything about an app store or how to download apps but if he can just go to his phone and on it there is a bookmark , he clicks the bookmark which takes him to our mobile site which in fact looks like an app because we built it to look like an app so you have the user experience of an app.
Once you go there it is very easy, there you can easily discover the latest music. So even though the song just came out yesterday, trust me it’s going to be on our latest songs list. So they don’t even need to go searching on the Internet for which song just came out or what the latest song is. Just come to our site, you discover the music very easily and then all you just need to do is when you find the song you want, click it once and you see the details, you click it again to download it onto your phone and it deducts your credit at the same time, you don’t have to put in your phone number, you don’t have to type in anything.
It knows your phone number, knows the country you are connecting from and knows what you are downloading. So in just two steps, you have your song and you are done.
Tola: Just to add to what he said, we are just offering you a better experience. Better experience in terms of payment, better experience in terms of usage, better experience in terms of listening quality, so you know if you are downloading a song from free site A or site B, you are probably getting different qualities of different songs at different volumes. So you are not getting a consistent experience.
What we are giving is a better user experience all through and we are giving you for a token because if you look at the cost, what we have is a flat fee structure for all songs, it’s been priced in such a way that we’ve taken into account several factors. A lot of science has gone into the pricing.
EA: And what would this price be?
Tola: For Nigeria, it’s a flat fee of N30. For an album, it’s a flat fee of N150. You also have the option of creating a playlist, you can bundle songs the way you want and it comes for N30 each.
EA: Looking ahead in 3, 4, 5 years from now, where do you see the service?
Damola: We hope that if we can capture the Nigerian market in the next one year, if literally it goes to the roots, then we’ll move to other African countries and start capturing those territories as well because you know Africa really is our market. We are not trying to move to Europe or America, I mean they already have services that work there and they have different kinds of people with more advanced structure.
Our own unique selling point is that we will move into less developed countries but in these less developed countries, they equally have good contents, even contents that are better than those in the developed countries but which are not monetized. So our mantra is to move to move to less developed countries and monetize their contents for them.
Tola: So we project that this is going to be a lifestyle product within the next two, three years, such that people will begin to see the service as a first point of call in Nigeria and subsequently other African countries.
This story MEET THE NIGERIAN TRIO BEHIND MUSIC DISTRIBUTION PLATFORM – MYMUSIC.COM.NG first appeared here on Exclusive Africa.
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