Founded in 2006 and funded in 2011, Spinlet has turned the needs of African music lovers into a business. The music downloading and streaming platform aims to bring forth African musicians, both already well-known and local artists. Underpinning the important influence Spinlet is having on the global African music scene, popular musicians like Nigerian Ice Prince, chose to contribute by exclusively releasing his album on the Spinlet platform. The company is uncovering new music talent every day thanks to its ”spinners” – the community on the ground – who are sourcing and recommending new artists and sounds i.e they are crowd-sourcing relevant and desired content. Being discovered by a spinner, within days the musician will have a spot on the platform. ”Spinlet probably has the largest catalog of African music anywhere.” Neil Schwartzman, CEO of spinlet, says to Venturebeat. The company’s success is mainly due to it’s niche, African Music. This is how the company is able to compete with established platforms such as iTunes and Spotify.
A constant problem within the music industry is pirated copies of songs, which for instance costed the U.S 12.5 billion dollars in economic output in 20071. Although big musicians solve this by increasing the price of a concert ticket, minor performers can not use that kind of strategy. Spinlet partially solves this by decreasing the prices in countries such as Nigeria where the music piracy is excessive.“In Nigeria, for instance, pirating is rampant – they just take CDs and rip them. So we need to find a middle ground: you can’t be too cheap, and you can’t out-price yourself. In Nigeria, for example, we charge 1,000 Naira* for a one-month streaming subscription, and 60 Naira for a track2.” Schwartzman says.
Another way of fighting music piracy is to use legal means to deal with infringers. To do this, however, a web-crawling software employed by its monitoring team, and working in tandem with its in-house legal department, will continuously scout the web for unauthorised posting of contents that are exclusive to Spinlet. “Offenders will be formally notified of their infringing content and requesting that it be taken down and if this does not work, then a desist notice is sent to warn that the outfit will pursue civil remedies and push for criminal sanctions in the event the music is not taken down.”, Mark Redguard, Chief Markting Officer, assert to tribune.com.ng on behalf of its legal department.
What does the future hold for Spinlet? First of all is to cater all of Africa. Currently there is no headquarter in east Africa and the relevant market suffers. According to Francis Ebuehi, COO of Spinlet, the company will officially open an office in Nairobi during Q1 next year in order for supplement to the East African market. “We have actually told ourselves that we have to be everywhere in Africa. We are already established in the west and south, and we need to have a presence in East Africa because you can’t be in Africa and not love East African music; it’s beautiful,” Ebuehi says to howwemadeitinafrica.com. “So we are currently looking at Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya from a Nairobi operation.”
An increase from the existent 650K users is being pursued. “We expect about 18 million downloads next year,” Schwartzman says to venturebeat, “and 88 million by 2016… by then we expect to have about 50 million paid subscribers.”
*1,000 Naria is about 6 U.S dollars.