Distributing Music on Mobile Profitably in Africa, a journey with Spinlet’s Chairman

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – Harry Warner, Warner Brothers

There was a time when actors never spoke in movies. Harry, of the Werner Brothers never saw any reason why actors had to speak in movies. Things have changed.

Do you want to sit in front of the screen, watching a movie that the actors don’t talk? Not likely. Back in the days, folks never saw anything wrong with actors not speaking. Even the business men running the industry did not foresee a change in the future. Here we are today, actors speak in movies and we love it.

When it comes to music, the manner in which we consume music has kept changing.

I used to have a Sony Walkman player. But I can’t carry that thing around any more. My current phone is a Nokia N8 and it has 16gb internal storage and I can store enough music on it. Things have moved a step further that that by the way. I could decide to store all my music in the cloud and play them from there without clogging the space on my phone. There are different companies that are making that possible. One of such company is Spinlet.

They have recently launched their service in Nigeria. I had a date with the chairman, Eric Idahi, last week Saturday and he shared with me what how music sharing and distribution has evolved since the late 1990’s and how Apple changed the game. He also shared with me how Spinlet is going to move music one step ahead in Africa, benefits for music lovers, record label, artists [upcoming and old] and advertisers.

What does Spinlet do?

Spinlet is a platform to engage people with music. They can choose to stream music for free, download music and share their interest with others.

Why Spinlet? People have a way to consume music already, even on their mobile via links shared on Twitter, website for sharing media, via bluetooth and microSD card and the Jo’Blo from Computer Village. They seem to be comfortable with it

Before Spinlet, I was heavily involved in media and entertainment industry. I offered financial advisory and services. I co-founded Fountain Head Media. I got to spend a lot of time knowing about piracy. There is no infrastructure for music to be distributed profitably, that is the reason piracy is higher here, unlike in developed markets. I lived in America in the late 1990’s and early 2000s. When I was in the University, there was Napster. Napster was how many folks got their music. I was one of the heavy users of Napster. I had about 10,000 songs on my laptop, all for free. Not just Napster, There were other services that came up then. The guys that did Skype had similar service too. [Kazaa]. Today, things have changed. It did not make sense to a college student back then to buy or pay for music. Music was gotten the way people share music in Nigeria now. People get CDs, rip it and start sharing it.

The record labels came together to fight this trend of distributing music for free by the likes of Napster. While that was happening, more important things happened, iTunes came on board.

When iTunes came on board amidst all this piracy and free music distribution, everyone said, no way! This is not going to work.