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Music streaming economy in Africa still a mirage

The music streaming economy in Africa still remains disappointing due to inadequate governance and weak copyright enforcement. However, it seems like this will not be a permanent problem; the 2018 International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) Global Collection Report found that the continent’s royalty collections increased to 11.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017. This is thanks to organisations such as Request Africa, for holding radio stations accountable.

Request Africa listened to the cry of local musicians and decided to help fight copyright infringement and ensure creatives get their dues. With a background in technology, Ali Dennis, the co-founder of Request Africa and his team, leveraged on this to create a device that monitors radio stations playlists across the continent.

“By monitoring, I mean we listen to different radio stations and know which song is being played at what time and for how long and get the details of the song. We then pass this information to collecting societies such as the Music Copyright Society of Kenya and they use it to demand royalties for artistes,” Ali Dennis tells Spice.

Collecting societies had been complaining that they don’t get accurate information from radio and TV stations playing music and so, this fueled Request Africa’s need to bridge the gap. In order to do this, the firm created a hardware device to listen to different radio stations, accessing their frequencies through the web. The device is a combination of hardware and software technology.

“We are not yet monitoring all radio stations across Africa since their scope is massive. My team started out by picking the most popular radio stations in different regions. So, we select 10 or more from these regions and place them under surveillance. Within Kenya, where we started off, we keep an eye on more than 20 radio stations,” he says.

The platform has expanded its radar to Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa, with a plan to access more radio stations in the whole of Africa in the near future. When they decided to set up this channel, Ali Dennis, Norman Munge, Kelvin Micha and Shimanyi Valentino had to turn to crowdfunding to complement what their wallets could provide in order to successfully launch this project. Impressed by this initiative, Digital Lab Africa extended a hand and formed a partnership with this team.

Request Africa is sustained by revenue received from collecting societies, musicians, music publishers and record labels that pay for the data this company provides. As they work on expanding their coverage, they hope more people will embrace this technology.

“Adoption of new technology is always slow in the continent, but people are getting more interested in searching for solutions and so, we are expecting more changes in the culture as things improve,” adds Dennis.

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