Looking Back on Our First Quarter

Well, here we are. March came to an end over the weekend & nobody believed our Facebook announcement on April 1st that we were shutting down so I guess we need to keep on trucking. ( That was all my co-founder Jeremy’s doing by the way; I knew you guys wouldn’t fall for that. )

Our pre-launch landing page.

Where We Began

Before we get ahead of ourselves; one has to take into account the fact that some of you reading this may not have heard of us yet, so let’s cover some background. Instead of repeating any marketing speak, you can get an overview of our company here. Essentially, we’ve created the first digital music store for Zambia & are working on some other things that we believe will benefit the music ecosystem here; a little more on that later.

We launched Mvesesani just about three months ago over the new year. It was a crazy idea to do it then; as with everything else in this piece, the blame shall be laid squarely on my co-founder’s shoulders. It meant that we spent Christmas day driving into Lusaka in order to get a head start on preparing for both our launch event & the product launch.

The startup starter kit

What followed was a lot of coffee & pizza consumption (yes, clearly the diet of startup champions), an average of two hours of sleep a day, invaluable knowledge in the form of how to get quality sleep under a desk as well as spending new years in the office.

Happy New Year!

It was crazy but it was a great experience that neither of us would take back.

Where We Are Now

The Artists

Three months since our launch, we’ve made our first payouts to the artists that came on board with the platform early, we’re really thankful to them for their trust in us when a lot of them have been burned before by others looking to make a quick buck off of their work.

“King Rox” paid us a visit @ our temporary office

Most importantly, we need to take a moment to thank the man who trusted us from day one & backed us with the privilege of hosting his latest album exclusively when we launched. Jay Rox, you are a King sir.

Since then we’ve signed up twenty more artists and music rights-holders, including Chali “Bravo” Mulalami of Slingbeats (see our interview with him here), Chisha Folotiya of Mondo Music & Humphrey Khuzwayo the son of the founder of the absolutely legendary Zambia Music Parlour. Oh before I forget; we also signed up living legends in the form of the Sakala Brothers as well as Angela Nyirenda. We have a lot of exciting Zambian music to give you this year, and not just new music; we’re going back into our history to collect, digitise in some cases, archive & make available the entirety of Zambia’s rich music heritage.

Our Reach

Since our launch, we’ve been overwhelmed to see the store receive visits numbering in the tens of thousands from a total of 64 countries with purchases coming from countries as unexpected as Denmark and Singapore. More expected sales came from the obvious Zambian diaspora community based in Australia, the United States, United Kingdom & South Africa.

A geographic representation of the mvesesani.com’s traffic.

Perhaps the most surprising thing however, particularly after hearing during our research & business development last year how much the Zambian music fan doesn’t want to buy Zambian music from so many people, has been the fact that 60% of our revenue has come from Zambian music fans in Zambia. You guys are the real MVP. Thank you and please continue to #SupportZambianMusic.

We’ve seen slow uptake on our social media but that’s on us; there’s a lot of work for us to do there. We have seen a nice uptick on Facebook with our reach there having crossed the 1500 mark last month. You can also follow us on Twitter & Instagram to keep up to date with what we’re up to & give us your feedback, we’d love that.

The Industry

Some may have missed it, but a problem that we discovered & discussed with many artists last year has been the unsanctioned placement of artist music on international music platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify & others by the local Zambian Music Copyright Protection Society ( Zamcops ). A distressing situation; many artists are not even aware that their music is for sale on these platforms without their consent & the artist does not see the revenue generated from these sales.

A statement from ZAMCOPS dated 30th January 2017

If you must shop for Zambian music on any of the platforms listed above & in the press statement, do make certain that you’re actually putting money into the artists’ pockets. A simple check of the publisher information on iTunes will tell you if the music you wish to purchase was published by ZAMCOPS or the artist themselves.

An array of albums available on iTunes carrying ZAMCOPS as publisher.

Where To From Here

Obviously we’re going to be making as much music as we can get a hold of available to you through the store, but aside from that; we’ve really made it a priority to make it easier for our Zambian market to transact with us & be part of supporting the music they love. It’s no secret that there are many who don’t have access to a bank card and since that’s the only method of transaction that we offer, there are many a music fan that can’t pay for the music we have on offer.

We’re working diligently with our local Mobile Money providers to build a solution to this that will actually work & not be confusing to use. We do believe that for e-commerce & m-commerce to actually succeed locally, Zambian Mobile Money solutions need to support transactions over the internet. We’ll be publishing updates on that front as the year progresses.

Lastly, we gave the attendees of our launch a tease at this news but we’re now ready to publicly announce that the second product from Mvesesani will come in the form of a radio play tracking service that we have called “Pendafye”.

Coming soon ;)

Mvesesani has always referred to itself as a tech company creating digital infrastructure for the music industry. Zambia has no tracking of what is played on radio. Pendafye will fill this gap. I can’t wait to be able to share more information about this project.

All the best from Jeremy & myself.