By Ability Elijah
The Internet is one of the best things that has ever happened to mankind, it helped us discover the problems that never existed.
However, it made a lot of people what they are today. You should definitely agree with me that 100% of the artists that are currently booming in Africa today and a few years back took off stress-free at the initialization of the internet. Back then, in the early days of Dbanj and Psquare et al, music was typically difficult to scale or sell but when internet technologies started scaling and became more popular Boom! everyone took off — and everything changed.
Everyone started thinking fast and furiously, most people started music companies that wouldn’t be possible if there was no internet.
Lives changed for good. Spotify is helping labels double revenue, Soundcloud created yet another super celebrities like Chance the rapper, whilst social media companies are doing the marketing and then everything looked so cool to me. SO!
I launched Musiccloud, did a little angel capital at the very early days, scaled it to some point, yet no profit or any tangible revenue, then my best option was to opt for another capital to scale and hopefully make money. What I didn’t remember was that I am in Nigeria and nobody will give me more money for a business that was just doing userbase metrics — streams, downloads, and no profit. At this point, we were already doing 100k music streams monthly, we tried the audio ad model but it F’d us.
Now, I remember I had thought of some other impressing business model in the early days to back Musiccloud when it grows big, but since we weren’t doing any money, all my aim and focus was to spill the hidden money this time.
Then we pivoted to CakeTunes, added an e-commerce feature where producers can opt-in to sell beats to musicians and video firms. This time again, everything felt so fine until we noticed a very severe scar in the industry, which made me realize that the internet music industry in Africa shares a very unique description and this may not change any time soon. Thus, these similarities have raised too many media questionings and concern: Do Nigerians really buy music online?
But did I mention? In the first day of our pivot, we did a surprisingly 110 USD in sales but this was just a welcome note to a rough and deadly industry.
Usually, the first day in school is always fun, but it doesn’t mean that 3 weeks later, the math teacher with a mustache wouldn’t lash your ass.
If you are familiar with this situation then I am sure you can relate properly. It was all fun until we begin to discover hundreds of sites and blogs that were offering quality beats for free, most of these were even as good as the beats we sell for 100 USD. Each time we call up our artists in Nigeria over the phone to find out why they haven’t bought any beat yet. This is the most common way they reply: I have too many free beats and trust me, shit is super cool.
Also, 90% of our producers were frequent uploaders on those free beat platforms, and at these points, sales were hardly coming until we run ads to make sales and keep no profit.
This brings me back to the pretty 110 USD single sale on our first day in school. That sale happened from France. So I quit.
Hold on. No one is quitting yet. We needed to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Here is the point where we made a lot of strategy on the whole platform so we can prove to US that we can eventually be profitable someday as a business, yeah?
No one wanted to sponsor their music on our platform. What really made a lot of sense is having your songs on Notjustok or Naijaloaded.
Who’ tha hell wanna run an ad on a platform that’s solely doing a little over 100k monthly streams when there are spaces to reach over 2 billion users on Facebook. Hell no, I quit.
Numbers of beats sold?
Trust me, if you were me, you would quit at the 3rd paragraph of this post. However, we managed to sell over 100 beats, but suck it, we spent too much-targeting people aside Africa which was just too costly.
Don’t ask why we didn’t run ads in Nigeria, we did but damn it. We sold nothing, nothing, I f%%%cking mean nothing. All sales happened around France, London, Texas, Miami, Jamaica and luckily Capetown. So this was pretty much where we sold.
Now, for the last time, I quit.
I would still be in this business if we made more investment deals but we weren’t lucky enough as investors seemed to be so freaking scared.
This is probably the last time I will be talking about the internet music industry because I am so vexed for losing a lot of our pocket money to it.
One word for the wise (anyone planning a music startup). Quit that music startup while it is still early or your business will die a miserable death like mine.
You will lose a lot of money, trust me. I repeat, quit now except you have the cash to burn on such mysterious business.
Another advice. Use that precious time and money to work out some other unique ideas that do not share any similar stereotype with the music industry and you may be fine.
But we Thank Yeshua for the vibe. Believe it. I will come back this 2019 with a different thing and drop it like it’s hot, but until then, let’s continue to sip this juice on our table. No be die.
This article was originally published on Medium.