Startup Stories: Dear Spinlet, Are You Sure You Have Got It Figured Out?

Spinlet, a music streaming service some people are refering to as the iTunes of Africa finally launched after months of media hype. Our very own Jesse Oguntimehin did a great review that you really should read if you have no idea what Spinlet is really about.

However as much as people love to talk about the polish of the product and how cool the UI is, I think they are getting it wrong fundamentally. Spinlet is barking at the wrong tree; music distribution in Nigeria might be broken, but its unlikely Spinlet can fix it either.

First, my arguments that music discovery isnt broken: How does the average Nigerian get songs on his device? Good old bluetooth! remember that ‘small’ feature that allows us share files? The music comes from N100 CDs we buy on the streets and the latest ones we download directly on the internet (Thank God for notJustOk, BellaNaija, 4Shared and Google search).

Dear Spinlet, it will take more than a cool UI to change the habits of Nigerians, in case you have not noticed Nigerians dont really like spending money online and your pricing model wont make it any easier. Why will I buy a track for N80? Albums for N400? You will have to drug me first.

Dear Spinlet, I hope you also made a partnership with the network providers to provide real high speed support for your streaming activities and maybe some free MBs too. Except I have unlimited data BIS plans as Jesse noted in his review. Streaming music will take a lot of data and patience (try downloading 5MB music file at rate of 1Kb/s), who wants to gamble N400 on an album that might never finish downloading in a month? Not me.

Dear Spinlet, I think you guys should take a clue from iROKO partners and go look for your product/market fit. iROKO faced global, you guys are facing local. iROKO partners did not launch out with Nigeria as prime target, that’s why they opened offices across the world. Nigerians in diaspora and foreigners are the ones that are ready to kill for Nollywood movies. A lot of Nigerians  living in Nigeria just largely ignores Nollywood. Disaster is if iROKO partners had decided to focus exclusively on Nigerians in Nigeria. Probably won’t work.

I am convinced iROKO partners got their product/market fit correct and hence they’ve got traction, raised funds and continue to expand.

Nevertheless, I strongly believe that Spinlet is an awesome product and it will be warmly welcomed by Nigerians in the diaspora: They have good internet access, they have access to credit cards and they miss home. As for those of us here; maybe you should let us be. (On a side note, we can use Spinlet to replace our music players)

To other Startup founders, I’ll say finding the right Product/Market fit before the cash burns out is one of the most important thing and also stop fixing things that are not broken.


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