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Meet the guys working to overthrow free digital music
downloads in Nigeria
MARCH 21, 2016 BY MUYIWA MATULUKO 1 COMMENT

In an industry fueled by all too influential free music blogs, three young
entrepreneurs are taking the bull by the horn to achieve the unimaginable.

MyMusic.com.ng is an online retail platform that lets Nigerians pay to download
high quality music using a convenient payment channel they’re all familiar and
very comfortable with — mobile airtime. Techpoint sat down for a chat with the 3
co-founders of MyMusic to get some insight into how they hope to end the reign
of free digital music downloads in Nigeria.

Techpoint: Could you give us a brief intro of yourselves and the roles you play
in MyMusic?
Damola: My name is Damola Taiwo. I am the Chief Operational Officer and Co-
founder of MyMusic. Most of what I do revolves around speaking to, and
sourcing, partners. I also do some tech stuff, design and branding sometimes.

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. I am the CEO and Co-founder of MyMusic. Most of what I do is liaising with partners and seeing to the day-to-day operations of the company and business development I also work with Damola on content acquisitions from record labels and independent artistes. Damola Taiwo Tola: My name is Tola Ogunsola.

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. Tola Ogunsola Dolapo: My name is Dolapo Taiwo. I am Co-founder and also double as CTO for MyMusic. I also oversee a lot of development work. Most of my work revolves around third-party tech integrations.

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I play the bass guitar. Tola especially was the kind of programmer everybody wanted to know when they had assignments. . Dolapo Taiwo Briefly. we were very involved in web development and computer clubs. what is the story behind MyMusic? Damola: We met at Babcock University where we were all studying Computer Science. Dolapo plays the keyboard. We also had similar interests in music. While in school.

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which we initially ran from our uncle’s garage in Ibadan. Dolapo and I went on to found Unotech Media. we reunited again to share experiences of the things we had done with technology in our personal lives.Two years after leaving school in 2004. But you were entering a saturated space at a time when most local players had tried and failed. Years after. What made you so confident that this was the way to go? Damola: When Steve Jobs started iTunes. people don’t mind paying for digital music downloads . We saw how the Nigerian music industry was so fragmented and we thought we could do something about it. That’s how it all started. What that taught us is that. as long as it is convenient. We decided we would build a digital music downloads platform. No one ever believed that iTunes could become such a commercial success. But it didn’t fly so we all moved on. we came together to nurse an idea — a music store for selling Nigerian CDs online to people abroad. Napsters was the P2P music sharing platform everybody was using to download free music.

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If we could find a way to make people pay just by the click of a button. Someone in the know told me that there are no more than 200. will pay N50 a month for CRBTs (caller tunes). The only reason why we started MyMusic was because we thought we had the solution.000 Nigerians who use their debit cards online. even though they download songs for free from music blogs. But these are the same people who. then we had a solution. . But it took us 3 years to come up with that solution. quite a sizeable number of consumers are yet to embrace tech. the tech industry in Nigeria is still very young.Granted. So we researched on how we can match that experience.

I imagine it’s been very challenging . That sounds like a lot of work. Downloads on MyMusic cost only N30 per track Now you can press a button and the song is sent directly to your phone. N30 is deducted from your airtime and you receive an SMS receipt with a link to re- download the song if it fails.

But we’ve been able to surmount most of it. . Because of the way the music industry is structured. To achieve what we are doing. getting the attention of record labels is quite difficult. just to get them on one platform is a bit of a challenge. there are an awful lot of third-parties involved.Dolapo: It sure is a lot of work. Manoeuvring around 12 record labels and numerous individual artists.

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there is a lot of friction and so many potential points of failure. music. from point zero to download. which you are not aware of. Because we have to seal so many partnerships. You could also add payments into that mix. tech and communications. So for a typical everyday user that lands on MyMusic. it is just 2 clicks.Tola: It’s almost like we are a unification of 3 different industries. . But for us it takes us connecting to about 5 entities.

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At that time the issue was that some of the suggestions from the prospective investors sounded like doing exactly the same thing competitors have done and failed at.What we have going for us is that even though we all have a technology background. Have you raised any investments so far? Tola: No we haven’t. Currently. we had an interesting number of people reach out to us. So we decided at that point to take a break from seeking for investors. we’ve made a conscious effort to shift the focus from the technology to what users are used to and want. we are bootstrapping the company to a point where we build enough traction to start talking to investors again. we found an investor but they tried to change too much. Eventually. When we started. .

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it is almost impossible to bootstrap what we are doing because it is a very expensive project. It’s not like there is some stack of cash somewhere we can constantly pump into the business. if you think about it. I never thought it was going to be this difficult or take this long.Damola: Just to clarify. we are literally giving it all we have. Can you imagine what it’s like pumping all money you make into a venture that is not making any profit? Have any of you ever got to point when you felt like throwing in the towel? Damola: To be honest. we have gotten to a stage where we cannot go back. . I can tell you it has been extremely difficult. I mean. So we are not looking at this thing as a short term venture or a major revenue stream. We all have other businesses that we are running which serve as the performance engine for fueling MyMusic. I would advise entrepreneurs out there to at least have some source of personal revenue that will help you to have a higher staying power. However. I think what has allowed us to stay resilient up to this point is that fact that we all have our personal things going on for us.

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A passion for excellence is very important. . take a vacation. whatever I can to keep my sanity. That’s what I see the Nigerian music industry has tapped into and that’s why it is so big.Tola: For me. Or Wizkid will use a Lamborghini. Interestingly. The content is local but the outlook is international. you can be sure Davido will use a Porsche. Phyno is rapping in Igbo but people are listening to his music all over the world because people feel it’s international. they see you as a local artist. people will be attracted to it. what do you think the Nigerian tech industry can learn from the more successful music industry? Damola: The other day. Nigerian music videos have been able to match up to international standard. we had a discussion with one of the biggest artiste managers in Kenya and she made some key observations. In your position as an intersection of both industries. something always happens — like finally sealing an important partnership we’ve been chasing for months — at the nick of time that is just about enough to keep us going. sleep. If you cannot inspire them. it has never really gotten to that point of giving up outright. A lot of it is just what is fashionable to do. So if Jay Z uses a Ferrari in his video. They’re also wearing the same kind of designer apparel and shooting at similarly fantastic locations. Dolapo: We are convinced about what we are doing so we cannot give up even though it is a painful process. People watching these music videos like to be inspired. I just find something to do. But as long as it is excellently done. whenever it seems like we are getting close to our breaking point.

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You can work for somebody. the music industry people don’t have any confidence. said one of the things that always struck him when he had a meeting with Steve Jobs was that tech people were always over confident. Not because startups are the next thing to do to make money for yourself. maybe another startup. believe the next thing is to sign up at some hub. It’s like they get kicks out of using the latest tools to build stuff that nobody’s going to use it. Maybe after 6 months they can employ you. It’s the same here in Nigeria. based on your experiences. Don’t venture into startups just because everyone is doing it.Tola: Jimmy Iovine. once they finish university. one of the biggest music execs in America and Co-founder of Beats with Dr Dre. You could become bigger than someone who is into startups and doesn’t really know why he is doing it. On the other hand. People in the music industry are always focused on the money. Tech people in Nigeria need to remember that fundamentally they are in a business. Tech people on the other hand are way too confident and focused on tech. The only reason why you should be running a startup is because you have the conviction that you can solve a problem. or you can volunteer to work for a big company for free. They recognize that what they’re doing is a business. Finally. It took me almost 9 years to start this startup. what pieces of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? Damola: I see a lot of young people now who. . because it solves a problem that doesn’t exist.

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the right forces will align. pumped up and you think you can take on the world. That’s if you focus on your product and you’re solving a real problem. You’re fresh out of school. especially in the SSA market. money will come. focus more on the product. solutions will come. You can’t come out with a software that will change the banking industry in Nigeria without first understanding the banking industry. you’re going to face a lot of challenges. But people always forget that are startup is essentially a business. But your reality should always be balanced. If you don’t have a compelling product or you’re not differentiating just don’t bother starting because. partners will come. Naivety is good. .And once you decide the time is right to start a venture. investors might come. When you have a compelling product that solves a real problem. Tola: I think that there’s a lot of glamour around startups and it is obviously because of success stories around the world.

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What people care about is what problems it solves and how can it can impact the vast majority of people out there. Because at the end of the day. take off your tech cap and just think like a normal human being. then you know that you’re doing something right. you start to see that things have a different view entirely.ng.ng  439SHARES           More Posts Like This . But if it can appeal to the average man on the streets . Go local but use the resources around you to do whatever you’re doing to the highest level of professionalism. When you do that.Dolapo: The reason why Olamide is so successful is because he is local — street ti take over. For a second. it’s a joke. You are building stuff that people need. Muyiwa Matuluko Chief Chronicler at Techpoint. If what you are doing is not part of Nigerian realities. You are no more just building stuff that is high tech. Send all correspondence to info@techpoint. nobody cares whether your code is written in PHP or C#.

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