In this Interview, Charlotte Bwana, Head of Business Development and Media Partnerships, for Audiomack Africa highlighted the company’s efforts towards developing local talents, its investment activities in Africa, as well as the company’s plans for the region.
- Tell us about Audiomack and its purpose.
Audiomack is a free music streaming and discovery platform that allows artists to share their music and fans to discover new artists and songs. We are an artist-first streaming platform and our key purpose is to promote artists, including the upcoming talents. We aim to move music forward by providing a global platform for music sharing and listening.
- How has Audiomack managed to penetrate into the African and specifically the Ghanaian market?
We have always recognized Africa as a growth opportunity and in July 2020, we expanded our operations in the region by opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria. A key factor that has helped us really penetrate the African market is that we are a free platform for both the listener and the artist. On the Audiomack platform, artists do not have to buy space to upload music as they can create a free profile and upload their music with unlimited space, while all listeners need to enjoy music is data. This is in addition to the feature of downloading music to enable offline plays and listens.
Accessibility also plays a key role and with a presence in all 54 African countries, Audiomack remains committed to connecting with its African audience by investing resources into the region’s culture and communities. Furthermore, we have shown our value and built a solid relationship with African artists which has influenced more artist participation.
- What is Audiomack’s vision for the music industry in Ghana and how is Audiomack working towards bringing this vision to life?
Our vision for the Ghanaian music industry is to tell its stories by amplifying the voices of the region’s creatives. We aim to put more Ghanaian artists and music on a global platform to showcase what the country has to offer to the rest of the world via music. Through our forward-thinking initiatives, we are gradually working towards bringing this vision to life.
An example of such an initiative is our partnership with Afrochella, which is a huge platform with a local presence and shares Audiomack’s vision of celebrating Africa’s diverse culture and the vibrant work of the continent’s creatives. We are also investing capital and knowledge resources into the region’s music industry especially with our talent discovery programme- the Rising Stars challenge which was designed to increase the visibility of artists across Africa.
- Considering the pool of talent in Africa, how has Audiomack contributed to promoting and building capacity for these talents?
As mentioned earlier, we are an artist-first platform and we keep looking for channels to promote and build capacity for not only the huge artists but the up-and-coming artists as well. Our Rising Stars challenge held in collaboration with Afrochella is a key example of such a channel. Launched in 2019, Rising Stars is an initiative created to discover and promote upcoming talent across Africa. The first edition saw over a hundred entries from African artists compete for a chance to perform onstage at 2019 Afrochella, alongside a cash prize and a studio session with BBNZ live – one of Ghana’s leading entertainment and artist management agency. The second edition is currently underway and in addition to the winning prize of $1000 and a studio session with BBNz, the winner also receives an artist feature on the Audiomack platform. This allows the public to discover emerging talents and ensures the delivery of authentic and quality music to the global audience.
- What are some of the challenges Audiomack has faced while operating in the African environment?
The main challenges we face as a streaming company operating in the African environment are the low internet & smartphone penetration and high data costs. We are a very accessible platform, but not everyone can access our services due to low smartphone/internet penetration.
- In spite of the challenges facing the sector, what are some of the opportunities that Audiomack has been able to identify and take advantage of?
As mentioned earlier, high data costs are one of the challenges faced in this region and we have been able to navigate this by offering offline listens and download on the Audiomack platform. With this, our users have the opportunity to listen to music offline without incurring data costs. In addition, we connect with our audience by harnessing the Audiomack World feature which provides updates, blogposts and music analysis, making us the only Digital Service Provider (DSP) that has a very engaging media outlet platform. We also organize in-depth interviews for the Audiomack World feature with African artists because we want to keep telling African stories from the African perspective.
- How do you think your investment in Africa will impact and accelerate the Ghanaian music ecosystem?
First of all, our initiatives and activities have spotlighted Ghanaian talents, giving them access to a global platform. In addition, through initiatives like Rising Stars, we are looking to invest and find the next big artist. Also, we are hoping to raise the next generation of more-conscious artists in terms of them knowing and being on top of their music analytics. At Audiomack, we collect data and provide music analytics to the artists to ensure they understand the trends and how the audience is reacting to their music. With this, artists can understand the power they have and look for ways to harness this power.
- Where do you envision Audiomack Africa in the coming years?
Although the African music streaming industry is in its nascent stage right now, there is a huge opportunity for growth and adoption by a higher percentage of the population. So far, we have done a good job spreading African music on and beyond the continent and hopefully in the next few years, we would be the number one streaming platform across Africa.
- Are there any plans for Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to improve the lives of people in the community where you operate?
Audiomack is an advocate of giving back to its host community as we believe in investing in the livelihood, prosperity, and stability of the communities in which we operate. We recently upgraded the Accra High School for Girls football field because we want the youth to continue to innovate and express their creativity on and off the pitch. In addition, we partnered with Amsterdam-based fashion label, Daily Paper to host the 2021 annual football tournament held to unite the local creative community.
We would love to understand our host communities better and figure out ways to be responsive to their needs, aspirations and expectations which is the reason why we will continue to identify additional ways to lend support.