MusikBi, touted as Senegal’s first home-grown platform for legal music downloads, has launched with the aim of promoting artists, paying them properly, and fighting internet piracy.

So far, close to 200 artists have signed up to distribute their music through the platform, including internationally renowned musicians Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal.

“It is the first platform of its kind in Senegal, enabling music downloads by text or PayPal,” Idrissa Sakaine, Director of Solutions and Integration at Solid, the company behind MusikBi.

“We realised that most of the platforms that sell Senegalese music require the buyer to hold a credit card. People don’t use credit or debit cards here as much as in the West and other developed countries”, Idrissa added. “However, mobile phone penetration is strong, with many people having multiple SIM cards connected to different operators. We saw this as the best channel to distribute music. But above all, it’s also to ensure that artists can make a living from their art.”

The service is similar to Mdundo and Waabeh, which offer music downloads at a fee. However, MusikBi does not yet offer streaming, as connectivity remains a challenge in Senegal.

“Many African artists cannot live comfortably by the proceeds of their work”, Idrissa added. “This platform offers a chance for artists in Senegal to promote their work and make a living from it”.

Piracy and changing consumer habits have seen record sales drop worldwide. Illegal downloads have eaten into the artists’ bottom line, and this has been made worse by lax copyright enforcement and poor remuneration from royalties earned.

Additionally, consumers looking online for African music are often limited to content published by international music labels, meaning that a lot of musicians are locked out. MusikBi is looking to change that, offering a variety of artists’ music at an affordable cost.  

Songs on MusikBi cost between 300 and 500 CFA francs (50-85 US cents), and users can pay for them using mobile airtime or PayPal.

The agreement with MusikBi is that artists take 60 percent of the revenue from the sale of their music, while the platform takes the remaining 40 percent.

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