Artists subscribed to music platform Mdundo are set to reap big after the Pan-African company pledged to pay its musicians Kes100 million this year, as it celebrates 10 years of active existence in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa.
Launched in Kenya in 2012, Mdundo is one of Africa’s leading music services providing access to the continent’s favourite tunes to users in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with millions of downloads and streams via its website and app every month.
Mdundo’s CEO, Mr Martin Nielsen, says “this is an exciting milestone for Mdundo. Our platform currently has 20.3 million monthly active users across Africa with 4.9 million in Nigeria, 3.7 million in South Africa, 2.8 million in Kenya and 2.4 million in Tanzania.”
For a decade now, Mdundo.com, which sold music on ‘scratch card vouchers’ similar to airtime purchases from corner shops when it was founded, has now become a leading music services company, providing musicians with a real-time dashboard to control and manage their catalogue as well as earn from the service.
The company has now evolved to a free service funded by advertising sales.
“We used to have vouchers in kiosks and smaller stores where you could scratch and get a pin, similar to what we have when you load airtime. You input the pin and download the songs,” says Mr Nielsen.
According to Mr Nielsen, the firm’s growth is attributed to the focus on local content from music genres such as gospel, which has emerged as the primary music files downloaded, Bongo, native language music from across all the markets, rap, Kaswida in Tanzania, and Amapiano.
“The reason we are commercially successful is because these people are difficult for advertisers to reach. We are giving them something that they won’t be able to get from other places,” Mr Nielsen said.
“The mass market does not have many options. Most of the services and apps are focused on the same customers with good smartphones, fast internet and unlimited Wi-Fi. But Kenya consists of a good number of people who don’t have this access, whom we call the ‘skiza market’.”
Amid stiff competition, the company offers a free service in Kenya, where one is exposed to advertisements, premium service in Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria in partnership with telco providers, where customers subscribe to a bundle and get access to DJ mixes.
However, it maintains that the advertising business still remains the major revenue earner for the company. About 80 percent of content listened, and downloaded is from Africa.
The platform has grown from 50 artists to more than 100,000 musicians across the continent with Kenya accounting for about 20,000 artists.
The focus on the mass market and local content, Nielsen says has seen the firm pay about Kes100 million over the last 10 years and plans to pay a similar amount in the year to June 2023. All revenue from advertisers and premium products is shared 50-50 percent between the artists and the company.
In September 2020, the company was listed on the Nasdaq First North stock exchange in Copenhagen and aims to get 50 million monthly active users as well as a positive EBITDA (earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization) by 2025.