How East African Artists Will Make Money in 2023?


    As the world continues to embrace technology, musicians are in a constant search for new and better streams of income. In East Africa, artists and companies are looking to tap into a tech-savvy, smartphone-connected population of around 537 million people through several pathways.

    Currently the best way is to monetize off of digital content and brand endorsements. Beyond concerts, artists in East Africa make most of their revenue on social media and off of their music streaming platforms. However being a brand ambassador is the most lucrative means of making revenue aside from the above mentioned.

    It’s a positive thing that artists are monetizing through their partnerships with brands. Some of the brands in Uganda even sponsored artists to do indoor concerts during the covid lockdown.
    But what can up-and-coming artists who can’t secure lucrative deals with brands do? The obvious way is endorsements and brand ambassadors, but even then it’s the top 10 artists per country [getting them], specially those known in recent times.

    It would be great to see more artists working with brands that want some impact on social media to do monetized live streams and the like. Beyond that I would say a big source of income is digital ringtone downloads.
    What I love about artists from the East is that we like to think about smart ways of monetizing our business. If we look at an artist like GNL Zamba, he’s not just an artist but an entrepreneur. He has merch and a record label—that keeps a smart ecosystem. You’re not just making revenue from live shows but also supporting other artists and monetizing through the collective. Merch has been a big one. Quite a few artists have merch in the East. A Pass, Diamond Platnumz has his media/record label, Ali Kiba has partnered with brands as well.

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    Ugandan rapper GNL Zamba

    Streaming & online service options for East African artists

    The future is in data and East Africa has that. The East African algorithm and ecosystem actually drives lots of business for artists in the East and lots of Africa. Africa has 1.2 billion people. A minimum of 75% are on smartphones. Look at the data. The majority are 35-years-old and under. This is a demographic that consumes music. For East Africa, you have a population 537 million. In Kampala, 60% of people have a smartphone.”


    East Africa like most of Africa is filled with Android users and the most popular music platform for the consumer has been Boomplay. Apple Music only recently became available for the music consumer in East Africa even though iOS/Apple products have been in use for years.
    The generally cheaper data prices in East Africa (especially Tanzania) could see music on these platforms do super well as it has on Youtube for example.

    Ali kiba
    Tanzania singer Ali Kiba

    The mobile-web based music service Mdundo has been operating in East Africa and beyond for close to eight years. It offers songs for free downloads and streaming directly from their website and Android app. They are predominantly a digital music service available as a web download and streaming app. They have 5 million users on a monthly basis and work with 50 thousand artists signed directly to their platforms.

    Streaming giants like Apple Music and American companies like Audiomack are also looking to the region. Apple Music recently just expanded to Tanzania and are super interested in setting up closer relationships with more East African acts and labels. Audiomack also shows a lot of support for East Africa with their playlists and promotions. It would be great for East African artists to hop on these opportunities to learn and grow to get on par with the rest of the world in terms of roll-out strategies for their music on these streaming platforms for maximum impact as well.



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