As the world of streaming provides endless opportunities for artists and creatives to find an audience, Audiomack is looking to cement its hold in Africa. In this interview, we talk to Charlotte Bwana about the future of streaming, Kenya’s biggest artists, Audiomack’s competition and who’s on her playlist.
Whether you’re looking at it from a global perspective or a local one, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the future of music, and by and large entertainment, is streaming. With events all but cancelled or stripped to their bare minimum since the advent of the global pandemic, the only way musicians have been making money is through streaming.
Early last year Nyashinski streamed his album launch on YouTube and so did Sauti Sol. At the end of a year spent mostly at home and under the restriction of a curfew, there was an expected rise in streaming, particularly on music streaming platforms. This, in turn, made Otile Brown, Nadia Mukami, Nyashinski, Tanasha Donna, Mercy Masika and Khaligraph Jones Kenya’s most-streamed artists.
Owing to Kenya’s rapid uptake of smartphones and mobile internet, Audiomack, a free music streaming app available in all 54 countries on the continent, sees an opportunity to spread Kenyan music beyond the continent.
With that in mind, we spoke to Charlotte Bwana, Head of Business Development and Media Partnerships Africa.
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Artists can create an account on the Audiomack platform and upload their music catalogue, with an unlimited amount of space, free of charge
How does your current role as Head of Business Development and Media Partnerships differ from your previous role as Head of Digital Content Manager at Coke Studio Africa?
In my capacity as the Head of Business Development & Media Partnerships for Audiomack in Africa, I identify strategic business opportunities to generate revenue and improve profitability for Audiomack while making efforts towards establishing the brand in the minds of our wider audience across Africa. In my previous role, I was responsible for ensuring content, particularly songs, are available for fans on online channels including the coke studio app and streaming platforms.
What makes Kenya a great country for a music streaming platform like Audiomack?
In addition to its youthful population, the rapid and pervasive uptake of smartphones and mobile internet in Kenya has influenced the adoption of music streaming services in the region. We have seen that Audiomack is number one in the music category on iOS which shows us that people are using the app and consuming music via streaming platforms.
How would you motivate Kenyan artists to join the platform when some are already earning from your competitors?
As mentioned earlier, we are not only artiste-friendly and provide necessary tools for African artistes to boost their careers, but also a free and accessible platform. Artists can create an account on the Audiomack platform and upload their music catalogue, with an unlimited amount of space, free of charge. Furthermore, we provide artists with a global audience, thereby moving their music forward across the world.
With the emergence of streaming platforms, artists are now less reliant on labels to reach that level of success
The business of streaming is changing how music distribution works; does Audiomack cut out the music studios and labels?
It is important to note that we do not provide the same services as studios and labels, hence, they are still involved in the process of music distribution. In the past, artists had difficulty distributing their music globally but with Audiomack, they now have access to a platform where they can upload their music at no extra cost and make money off this while making it available to millions of people across the world.
Just to further elaborate on your answer, if an artist can record, produce their own music and then distribute their music via Audiomack doesn’t that indeed cut out the record labels?
The goal for most artists is to get signed by a label, which would pump resources into marketing in order to make them stars. With the emergence of streaming platforms, artists are now less reliant on labels to reach that level of success. However, record labels provide much more services including advisory and support to artistes than just music distribution, making them important in the music ecosystem.
Audiomack premium plan is $1.49 monthly, making Audiomack more affordable than its counterpart
Audiomack is currently free but is there a plan in the future for premium plans?Audiomack currently offers a premium plan and as we continue to grow across Africa, that option will become more visible. Currently, the Audiomack premium plan is $1.49 monthly, making Audiomack more affordable than its counterparts and reinforcing our commitment to democratizing music streaming by making it accessible for all.
Is your focus just on music or does Audiomack also consider Kenyan podcasters and authors (through audiobooks)?
Audiomack caters to both musicians and podcasters alike and we are excited to welcome more podcasters as we currently have a podcast platform. We are a discovery platform that allows artists to share their music and fans to discover new artists, songs, albums, mixtapes, audiobooks and more.
Speaking of mixtapes and music, which musicians are you currently listening to?I am currently listening to Zinya Manatse, Sauti Sol, Wakadinali, Arya Starr, Rowlene, Zuchu, Moozlie and Amaree.
Audiomack’s vision of celebrating Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of the continent’s creatives
Who do you think are among Kenya’s biggest artists?
In my opinion, the biggest Kenyan artists are Sauti Sol, Khaligraph Jones, Nyashinski and Octopizzo. They all make amazing music and are gaining attention across the globe.
What genre of music are you most fond of?
How does Audiomack intend to participate within the Entertainment scene in Kenya?
We intend to participate through concerts, media partnerships and collaboration with key events. We would like to be part of the Kenyan scene and we look forward to collaborating with more platforms with a local presence that shares Audiomack’s vision of celebrating Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of the continent’s creatives.
Do you think therein lies an opportunity to offer training to artistes and those willing to venture into music about data and how to do better?
Definitely. Audiomack is making efforts towards sensitizing both upcoming and established artists on the benefits of harnessing their music analytics to further their careers.
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