by Helvine Achieng
March 17, 2021
Martin Nielsen moved to Kenya to work with a venture capital firm but quickly switched gears after spotting an opportunity in streaming music and selling downloads' Mdundo'.
The Kenya-based company he co-founded now leads, Mdundo, is listed on the Danish stock market and is posting rapid growth in African markets.
Africa generally has been attracting international audio streaming firms like Sweden's Spotify and Apple Music, keen on capitalising on growing internet users and rising demand for legal content. "The market is getting bigger." stated Nielsen
Mdundo's users jumped 40% to 7 million in the six months to December, and the company now has aimed to reach 18 million users by June 2022. To attain that goal, Mdundo focuses on Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, offering a platform that does not require high data consumption or storage space.
The demand for local music is also driving growth. Some of the most popular downloads on Mdundo include gospel music from Kenya's most populous ethnic group, Kikuyu, and music in Nigeria's Hausa language.
"It is not about the top ten artists... it is really amazing to look at this local music," Nielsen added.
Music fans who use illegal sites, 93% of the total according to Mdundo, are also switching to sites like Mdundo, which share their income with musicians. Artists have flocked the site to take advantage of the growing audiences and a piece of the increasing revenue pie. Mdundo so far has 90,000 African music artists.
Mdundo, which is free to users and makes money through advertising, pays musicians every time their song is streamed or downloaded, sharing 50% of cash from adverts with artists.
"It is confirmation that we are not crazy. That is a really strong validation that African music is headed in the right direction,"