Beyond ringback tones, music downloading and streaming services in Africa have been a slow burn. Digital music label and aggregator Africori sits at the crossroads of tomorrow's market so we spoke to Founder Yoel Kenan about what's happening in the market and why.
Africori has become the leading digital music aggregator in Africa (with around 100,000 tracks) and is getting 60 million views a month on video platforms, mainly You Tube. The latter is now generating a significant income stream:"We've increased our expertise and capacity and have built better relationships with all of the DSPs."
Over the last year it has on-boarded a number of new clients including Chocolate City and Gallo: "They're appreciating an African company focused on African music. We understand their struggles and their objectives. We're very responsive. So we've decided to move towards being a boutique distribution company."
This last move is very significant as it takes Africori closer to becoming the digital music label of the future. Most aggregators globally distribute large numbers of tracks for many clients, in some cases 1000-4000 clients. In these circumstances, the aggregator has so many new releases, it's impossible to promote any of them effectively. Also African releases get lost among the many international releases:"It's hard to get successful in this way. We know which platforms are best for African music."
"As a boutique aggregator, we get up to 40 requests a week from artists wanting distribution. We prefer to work with labels, producers and artists that are serious about their work and who have talent. It's not just big artists but also younger developing artists as well."
So Africori has also become a music service company with a developing network of people able to support artists. For example, it has developed a network of radio and media pluggers in 27 countries:"If you're a client and you want to be pushed in particular countries, we can co-ordinate it. We will also be adding social media packages to reach audiences outside Africa."
It has also signed a deal with BMAT in Barcelona which will "maximize our ability to collect revenues from the collecting societies. It has the reference information service and will administer the metadata. It's important that African music is well administered. We're also working with an analytics company who can provide uable data to artists and labels. Anyone can do distribution but African artists need to expect more from their partners."
Music streaming and download services are slowly growing but have not been quick to take off. Why?: "There are a number of reasons: the cost of data - you just don't know how much data will cost you; the user experience is not intuitive; and the pricing model is not yet right." Nevertheless his digital revenues are up 340% from last year fuelled by having stronger clients and the growth of the streaming business in South Africa: "We will see this kind of growth in 5-6 countries next year and it will begin to change the business."