15 February 2018

Liberia: Meet the Guy Who Is Exporting Liberian Music to the World

Photo: Liberian Observer
Young music entrepreneur, Elvis Juasemai.

About a decade ago, before the coming of Tunesliberia.com, Liberian musicians were finding it difficult to get their music across the entire country.

Although streaming sites like YouTube were available, most of the population were not getting the music. And the high cost attached to downloading music from YouTube was discouraging to those who had access to the world's largest streaming platform.

So music fans had to solely rely on radio for most of their need for music. But things suddenly changed after tech entrepreneur Elvis Juasemai spotted the gap in 2015 and founded Tunesliberia, an internet company that distributes Liberian music to viewers across the world.

"Tunesliberia was built after I realized how popular Liberian music had become. But despite the growing demands for it, I could hardly find them on the internet, which severely limited their reach.

"When I started this company with few friends, we were trying to solve the massive problem of lack of access to Liberians music and lack of digitalization for the music's record keeping-- situations in my mind that devalued musicians and their music. But the thing has gradually changed since Tunesliberia was established because no matter your location, you can easily access Liberians music.

"This is the way I think I can contribute to the development and growth of Liberia, with talent. The journey to reach this far has been rocky, but my passion for arts keeps me going. I'm glad for the short-term success the site has archived," he said.

The site, which started with just a simple idea, and a few hundred Liberian dollars to purchase data to upload songs, now attracts more than half a million views from over 100 countries around the world on a daily basis.

This made him bridge the gap thereby putting Liberian music on the global map and bring to prominence our most promising artists, as well as expanding the reach of A-List musicians in and outside of the country through his platform, Tunesliberia.

Some of the most promising artists that have become popular through the influence of Tunesliberia include the likes of Stunna, CJay, Jaredo, Shine P, Flex, AG Da Profit, Kpanto, and many more.

"I actually started with a handful of music and in time the number started to grow substantially. This happened because I was on the backs of artists for new releases and spent more time on promoting on social media and the traditional media, which paid off handsomely.

"Having more than half a million daily users in a short space of time demonstrates that the appetite is there. This clearly shows that Liberians and other nationalities really love content.

"We've spent a lot of money to redesign the website with other features that were missing on the first website and reconfigured of it to be a mobile-and-download-freely-and-fast and music-streaming website.

"Since then, we have achieved a remarkable success that is still coming. We now have a staff of 10 people, an increase of six, and an office space in my house," he said. "The company is still young, although we are ambitious as we want to be; we are taking our own time to achieve our goal."

Despite the success over the short-period of time, the company still has some challenges, which pose a threat to its survival. One of the problems is the slow pace of advertisement, which would support that fact that operating expenses are hard to come by.

"One of our major challenges is the problem of affordable and reliable broadband internet connection in the country. This makes it difficult to reach the viewership goals we would like to achieve in Liberia. If you are in Montserrado, depending on your location, you spend less data to download a single song; however, the cost is higher if you are in a location that does not have good broadband penetrations.

"But we intend to solve this problem as we will soon start engaging telecommunications companies to work towards more affordable and reliable tariffs for the majority of the population.

"It is difficult right now to start collecting monthly subscription fees from visitors to the site in order to download music. But modalities are being worked out to make that happen. It is a longtime plan that will be achieved, but right now, our focus is to attract more than two million views every month. As for advertisement, it is coming and we are getting there," Elvis Juasemai said.


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