Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Nigerian iTunes' dances to the mobile phone beat

MyMusic.com.ng is a new digital music store aiming to take advantage of Nigeria's rapid mobile phone growth. MyMusic.com.ng is a new digital music store aiming to take advantage of Nigeria's rapid mobile phone growth.
HIDE CAPTION
Music startup eyes mobile phone users
Music startup eyes mobile phone users
Music startup eyes mobile phone users
Music startup eyes mobile phone users
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • MyMusic.com.ng is a new digital store where Nigerians can access local music
  • Customers can pay for songs using their mobile phone credit
  • The new platform is scheduled for full-scale release in February 2014
  • Funding, infrastructure and connectivity are some of the challenges faced by the team

(CNN) -- A group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs are setting out to rock Nigeria's vibrant music scene by cashing in on the country's booming mobile phone market.

Founded by three university friends, MyMusic.com.ng is an ambitious startup aiming to be the major online distribution channel for Nigerian music. The new digital service is focused on providing an easy and affordable way for music fans to access their favorite songs, which are often hard to find in one place.

"We have no single source of aggregated Nigerian music of African origin," says Tola Ogunsola, chief executive and co-founder of MyMusic. "So Africa is missing on the world map in terms of musical content -- so the potential is huge."

Read this: 'Dropifi' startup takes on Silicon Valley

MyMusic is designed to work similarly to other digital music stores, such as iTunes. But its payment options are largely catered to deal with the characteristics of the Nigerian market, which is mainly a cash only society.

Mobile phone users can select the song they want to download and pay instantly for it using their credit. Songs cost 50 naira, or about 31 U.S. cents.

"When users click the pay by mobile button, the download is automatically initiated on their mobile phones and the fee is deducted from their mobile credit," explains co-founder Damola Taiwo, who is also the startup's chief operating officer.

Technology and innovation in West Africa
Ghanaian start up heads to Silicon Valley
Secrets to start-up success

Mobile boom

Nigeria, Africa's second biggest economy, is one of the biggest and fastest growing mobile markets in the continent, with more than 100 million active subscribers.

It's this market that the young entrepreneurs behind MyMusic hope to tap, filling a musical void for the country's cell phone users.

Read this: Africa's mobile tech startups

"Mobile holds the biggest potential for us," says Taiwo, adding that more than 40 million phones in Nigeria are connected to the web.

"The majority of these users have their mobile phones as their only connection to the internet and any form of technology."

Computer users can also download songs via the pay by mobile method -- entering their phone number on MyMusic's website -- on top of the standard credit card and PayPal payment methods.

From door to door

The startup's three founders, who've all studied computer science, say they have so far invested $45,000 of their own money into the business.

They recently launched a test version of the platform at one of Europe's biggest tech conferences -- the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland. The Lagos-based team is now planning a full scale release of the service in February 2014, targeting an initial offering of 5,000 songs.

We have no single source of aggregated Nigerian music of African origin.
Tola Ogunsola, MyMusic.com.ng, CEO

"The goal now is to have a wide variety," says Taiwo. "So from the up-and-coming artists to music of like 20 years ago or 30 years ago," he adds.

Read also: 10 African tech startups you need to know

But to achieve that, and make the service successful, the young entrepreneurs have to put in a lot of leg work.

"What happens with most of these international sites is that they have a structured system where they can just go meet a record label and automatically get about maybe 100,000 songs, or as much as possible -- but in Nigeria, the structure is still growing," says Taiwo.

Fellow co-founder Dolapo Taiwo explains that because most musicians in the country have their own record labels, the team has to approach each artist separately.

"Having to run after record labels one by one is a very big pain but I think it's a pain that we're happy to bear for now," he says.

Turning problems into opportunities

It's a big vision for us and we're going to push it through.
Damola Taiwo, MyMusic.com.ng, COO

Yet, going from door to door is not the only challenge faced by the developers of MyMusic.

Finding outside funding in Nigeria has been difficult for the company, so the team is currently exploring international sources of investment to fund their marketing plan. Similarly, poor infrastructure and connectivity issues have both added to the challenge but failed to stop the entrepreneurs' efforts.

"Every problem is a potential opportunity," says Dolapo Taiwo.

For example, he notes, Nigeria's bandwidth issues have prompted them to build "very lean sites" that offer users a trouble-free experience.

"Within two clicks you can download a song, so we're trying to overcome that challenge," he says.

Looking ahead, the team has high hopes for the company's success and growth.

"We're looking to having a pan-African approach to this as time goes by because what we're actually solving is an African problem," says Dolapo Taiwo. "A lot of Africans do not have access to formal banking methods -- we don't have a lot of credit cards in Africa so we're looking to deploy it across Africa."

"It's a big vision for us and we're going to push it through," adds Damola Taiwo.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT