If there is something we can all agree on is that music has evolved over the years. From the instruments played to the gadgets used to listen to it. Music has certainly had its share of growth. Kenyan music has been no exception. Over the years, the Kenyan Music Industry has steadily grown refining a few important aspects along the way. Most Kenyan Musicians have been able to develop their music even beyond the country’s radar. They have garnered international acclaim due to their quality music and great stage presence. However, even with these amazing strides, it is still important to realize that there are still areas of our music industry that is plagued and marred by conflict. Areas that strain the careers of most musicians.
One of these areas includes monetization of the music created by artists. Artists have continually complained that they are getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to making money from their music. It is not enough that musicians have to deal with the issue of music piracy but the institutions that were set up in the past to protect them have done more harm than good. It is not a secret that there has been bad blood between musicians and Collective Management Organizations (CMO’s) and Content Service Providers (CSP’s). These CMO’s or CSP’s are the organizations behind how musicians get access to the royalty money from their music.
There have been scandals about these organizations mishandling musician’s royalties. Issues arising when Musicians feel like they have not been paid the total amount of what they are owed to these organizations charging and demanding large fees. However, even with these, there have still been efforts to ensure that musicians get their money’s worth when it comes to their music. Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore has always expressed the need to pay artists since they also put so much effort into the music they create.
One such way to get provide musicians with an avenue to recoup their money was by the launch of the SKIZA Tunes by Safaricom. This service allowed musicians to earn royalties over users buying their music and using them as ring-back tones to be played every time someone paid them a call. However, even that eventually was overtaken by conflict and legal wrangles. Again, the musicians questioned the transparency on how they were receiving their royalty money. So much so, that the case went to court to verify who the law says is responsible for collecting and distributing royalty fees to musicians.
Now, this is where the new application Songa by Safaricom comes in. Songa is an all-inclusive music streaming service offering a wide variety of music to consumers, as well as an additional platform for artists to sell their music powered by Safaricom. One primary thing to note is that the application offers transparency of information to the musicians leveraging music on the application. Through their specific accounts, musicians can easily track how their music is performing on the application and also keep a record of payments as they come in. This will go a long way in letting musicians feel in control of their own cash inflows and will also allow them to understand how they are making that money. This will cut out the middleman whom the previous cases have been about.
Another plus for them is that they will be able to leverage their new music on the platform. This will go a long way in promoting their content on the application. Other details to note about the Songa Music Application are;
It is limited to Safaricom Users only- This is because payment is over airtime billing. This means the pay to access the application will be leveraged through your airtime. Thus you need to top up before you can pay for the application.
There is a free two-week trial run– However, you are allowed a free two-week trial run just to allow you to get acclimated to the application.
The application has three creative directors. During the launch of the application, we were introduced to three of the creative directors of the application to drive consumer uptake and create awareness. These directors are; Mercy Masika, Nyashinski, and Sauti Sol.
Songa curates, codifies and classifies vernacular, local and world-class international music with over two million songs from over 400,000 artists. It will leverage about 5 genres of music ranging from Reggae, Ragga, Riddim, Gospel, and Afro-fusion. You can expect great local music from artists such as Eric Wainaina and even international musicians like Wiz kid, Camila Cabello, Usher, Chris Brown, Beyoncé and Davido among others.
Users will have the option of using the application when online or offline. When online, the application does use data. Here they can stream music and even download it and share music too. While offline, users can listen to the music they have already downloaded and create playlists.
The subscription fees are as follows. Once the free trial period is over, users can choose a subscription plan that best suits them i.e. Kshs 25 a day, Kshs 150 weekly or Kshs 499 monthly.
The service has made agreements with major international and African music labels. These include; Sony Music Entertainment, Africori, Africha, Ngoma and Expedia. Over time it is expected to make more deals with other labels.
Once you pay your subscription fee, you can access live radio– You can listen to KISS FM, East FM, Classic 105, Homeboyz Radio and many more.
To sign in, users can use Google or their Facebook Accounts.
For now, the application is only available to Android users. You can get the application by dialling *812#