Pulsating beats, electrifying melodies and irresistible grooves — East Africa’s vibrant music scene has been steadily gaining exposure, and now entrepreneurs and investors are catching on.
Two years after its launch, Mdundo, a Kenya-based online music distributor, has grown into a major provider of East African music with a 20,000 track strong library on its mobile web platform.
Currently growing by over 200 songs each week, the company says some 6,000 artists have so far signed up to the service. Customers can download old and new tracks for free within a limit, or pay 300 Kenyan shillings (around $3) a month for unlimited access without adverts. Unsurprisingly, Mdundo accepts payment in the mobile currency M-Pesa or Safaricom airtime.
Aside from providing a useful service for music-loving mobile users, Mdundo is also helping to raise the profile of East African artists. Lesser known singers, rappers and bands can reach a wider audience by signing up and uploading their tracks. They can also monitor downloads and get paid a share of the revenue from those downloads.
“There are no central rights holders of music in Africa and it’s therefore extremely hard to manage rights and offer a complete library to the consumers,” says CEO and co-founder Martin Nielsen.
“For that reason illegal sites normally have the biggest library because they don’t clear any rights.”
Mdundo is funded by Google-backed 88mph, a seed fund and accelerator that focuses on investing in web and mobile startups that target the African markets.
The business started as a conversation between founders Francis Amisi and Martin Nielsen, and investors 88mph. Four months later, the team had recruited 11 more members and created a beta version of Mdundo.