The cake is big

Issue 91 - summer 2021

Martin Nielsen, founder and CEO of the Kenyan streaming service provider Mdundo, only fears one competitor.

Connoisseur of Africa's music industry: Martin Nielsen
Martin Nielsen, CEO, Mdundo
Music produced in Africa continues to penetrate the global cultural mainstream. What is it based on? 

Nielsen: There is a strong technological component: the number of Internet users in Africa is growing rapidly. And when people go online, they are consuming content from Africa. Played millions of times, these flow into the global algorithms. For exactly the same reason, Latin American music has become so popular around the world over the past decade. The internet data became cheaper, millions of people listened to the local music and as a result it was represented much more in the global charts. 

How will the music market develop in Africa? 

Nielsen: I am convinced that it will increase significantly - after all, the number of Internet users will continue to grow. There are currently 400 million Africans online, and by 2025 there will be 600 million: 50 percent growth within four years! In addition, the population of Africa will grow from the current 1,1 billion to 2,5 billion in 2050. This means that there are many more people who consume music and access local content. There are big market factors involved, this is a musical revolution. What we've seen so far is more of a drop in the ocean. 

This also leads to more competition in music streaming. Your local offer Mdundo meets international players like Spotify. China is also at the African forefront with Boomplay. How can you survive there? 

Nielsen: It's a very big market, and we see that right now it's much more interesting to enlarge the entire cake than to take care of a single piece of the cake. For me, the biggest competitor we face is the illegal consumption of music. We estimate that only around seven to nine percent of all music consumption in Africa is through legal services. Even if I took over all Boomplay users, that wouldn't be very ambitious. So it's much more interesting to tap into this massive market of listeners who are not yet using legal streaming services. 

Many thanks for the interview!
Photo: Mdundo

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