Rap­per Akon to buy 50% of African mu­sic down­load ser­vice

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Sene­galese-Amer­i­can rap­per Akon an­nounced yes­ter­day he would pur­chase 50 per­cent of African mu­sic down­load ser­vice Musik Bi, as the plat­form strug­gles to gain a foothold af­ter its launch 18 months ago. Africa's first homegrown plat­form for le­gal mu­sic down­loads, Musik Bi launched in Sene­gal in Fe­bru­ary 2016 with a mis­sion to pro­mote African artists, pay them prop­erly, and fight in­ter­net piracy.

Akon, whose real name is Ali­aune Badara Thiam, an­nounced in Dakar he would be­come the ma­jor­ity share­holder in the ser­vice, de­scrib­ing Musik Bi as "the plat­form of the fu­ture". "It's not just a plat­form for Sene­gal but for Africa," he added, re­fus­ing to be drawn on what he had paid for the trans­ac­tion. Best known for his sin­gles "Locked Up" and "Smack That", Akon has de­voted more of his time in re­cent years to his Light­ing Africa so­lar en­ergy ini­tia­tive and other char­i­ta­ble pur­suits. He launched his lat­est sin­gle "Khal­ice", a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sene­galese su­per­star Yous­sou Ndour, ex­clu­sively on Musik Bi.

More than 200 in­ter­na­tion­ally fa­mous mu­si­cians, along with younger rap­pers, jazz artists and Chris­tian and Mus­lim vo­cal­ists, ini­tially agreed to put their mu­sic on Musik Bi, where users can down­load it us­ing their phone credit. CEO Moustapha Diop, whose com­pany Solid pi­o­neered the project, said ongoing dis­putes with phone com­pa­nies over their cut of tak­ings had hin­dered Musik Bi's reach. "We have the am­bi­tion of de­vel­op­ing across Africa and be­ing 'the' mu­si­cal dis­tri­bu­tion plat­form in Africa," Diop told jour­nal­ists. "The profit made by the op­er­a­tors is prob­lem­atic be­cause it goes against the in­ter­ests of the artists and the plat­form in gen­eral. We will keep push­ing to get a rea­son­able deal," he added.

Af­ter mo­bile op­er­a­tors took their share, artists keep 60 per­cent of their in­come from the ser­vice, while Musik Bi take the re­main­ing 40 per­cent. The plat­form also hopes to broaden into a mu­sic fes­ti­val, tele­vi­sion chan­nel and a stream­ing ser­vice, Akon said. Piracy and chang­ing con­sumer habits have seen record sales drop across the con­ti­nent, with il­le­gal down­loads tempt­ing African con­sumers look­ing on­line for mu­sic while copy­right en­force­ment re­mains rel­a­tively weak. — AFP


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