Marketing Kenyan Music Via Social Media
This morning, a Sunday no less, I made a presentation at this year’s edition of the Kenya Music Week (KMW). KMW is a music industry event that provides an accessible public forum for Industry stakeholders (i.e. musicians, producers, promoters, distributors, media, consumers, government & NGOs) to interact and produce solutions to Industry problems. My company Dotsavvy has supported KMW for the last 4 years by building and managing their web site. I am personally very proud to be affiliated with the KMW which has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and is playing a key role in stamping out music piracy in Kenya.
Kenyan music has become successful throughout the African Continent and is gaining audiences throughout the world. Its only a matter of time before a Kenyan musician breaks through the ranks and becomes a global star when you hear talent like Jua Cali, Eric Wainaina, Wahu, Nameless and Kanjii Mbugua do their thing. However, the feedback I received from the KMW workshop presentation I gave on social media marketing is that the major internet issues facing Kenya’s music industry are music distribution and sales, e-literacy amongst stakeholders, and building global awareness for Kenyan music.
There is no better channel than the internet as well as mobile media for distributing and selling music. However, the main problem in Kenya today is that we do not have the required legislation in place yet to address this issue. This, we hope should not be a problem in 2009 when it is expected that the draft ICT Bill will be passed by parliament. This is a crucial bill that the Kenyan parliament needs to pass since it will address e-commerce, m-commerce, digital intellectual property and content regulation issues for Kenya. However, its key that this legislation is done right and already a few red flags have been raised by ICT industry stakeholders since some clauses need to be amended, removed or added to make the bill comprehensive and current.
In the area of e-literacy, a strong recommendation would be for private-public sector partnerships that will enable stakeholders throughout Kenya to take full advantage of ICT as a key enabler for Kenya’s music industry which has already grown into a multi-billion shilling industry. In this day and age, with the advent of improved internet access and m-payments, Kenya’s Music Industry needs to understand and fully embrace ICT as the coming future. With the right knowledge and execution, Kenya’s musicians can become prosperous online even if there is massive piracy through more traditional distribution and sales channels.
On building global awareness and interest for Kenyan music, the biggest challenges are ensuring that its not only easy to find online and visible, but that legal distribution and sales channels are also enabled. There are so many potential consumers for Kenyan music but they can’t even find it online and cannot buy it online except in a few niche web sites. This is leading to piracy as things stand and once again Kenyan Music Industry will lose out if they are unable to take full advantage of the Internet and other ICT-enabled transaction channels.
All is all, the signs are encouraging. Many of Kenya’s leading musicians now have profile pages and do their marketing via social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. They use these profiles to keep their fans up to date on what is happening, invite them to concerts, allow them to sample music videos and music clips, etc. This is regardless of the fact that many Kenyan Musicians do not even have their own web sites or have even registered domain names – but they are still managing to effectively leverage social media online. You can download my presentation here.