Zimbabwe: Marketing Artists Online

Technology & Convergence

www.africaunsigned.com

Already there are three Zimbabwean acts in the project namely, Victor Kunonga, Bongo Love and Africa Destiny. Fans can log on to the website, find an artist of their liking, elect the amount with which they would like to support the artist.

A minimum of US$1.00 (plus transaction/administration costs) makes one a supporter of an artist's next studio recording. A selection of the artists from Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Zimbabwe and South Africa were hand picked by a music panel consisting of music experts like Baaba Maal, Tony Allen and Damon Albarn.

When an artist reaches the US$10,000 mark recording budget they can be in the studio to record at least three songs. According to the organisers they will work with high quality studios and top of the bill producers. Africa Unsigned will find the desired producer for the artist. The artist's fans will be updated on the recording process with blogposts and videos.

The music is then distributed to the fans that backed the artist and sold on all major online stores including Amazon and iTunes. All the generated net income from music sales is shared equally between the artists and the music fans that supported the artist.

Penny Yon of Pamberi Trust, partners in the project said: "It is early days yet, since the website has only been up since the New Year, but Kunonga and Bongo Love have enjoyed around 100 'votes' each on the site so far."

"This is an exciting new concept which allows international music fans to listen to the demo music of unknown artists from Africa, read their biographies and blogs, view their videos, and vote by increments of $1 for any artist they believe in.

"The accumulated votes go towards more professional recordings, and in the meantime, the artists receive international exposure through a worldwide promotion.

"The number of hits and votes are growing steadily."

The Standard 23 January 2010