Trace Africa will raise the profile of African music and company set to launch local FM radio stations soon

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Trace Africa joins Channel O and MTV Base Africa in offering Africans the chance to see their own music on TV. Trace is going through a growth spurt with Trace Urban, Trace Tropical and Trace Sports expanding its brand, both in Africa and elsewhere. But Trace Africa will also raise the profile of the continent’s music globally. Balancing Act Senior Analyst Sylvain Beletre talks to Nadeige Tubiana, VP Africa at Trace on the new channel's deployment and how Africans can benefit from it.

Q. How can people get to watch Trace Africa?

A. Trace Africa has been available since the 15th of November 2011 in French-speaking Africa via CanalSat Africa, channel 71. The channel will be available in France on December 7 on SFR and in January on Orange pay-TV offers via Thema's African-dedicated TV offer ("le Bouquet Africain").

Trace Africa is now available for worldwide distribution in several languages starting with French and English. As a matter of fact, in addition to France and French-speaking Africa, I can already inform you that Trace Africa should be launched during Q1 with major pay-TV operators in the USA, Canada, and other European countries.

In Africa, we already work with the top pay-TV players, including Dstv MultiChoice, Canalsat, My TV or TV Cabo and we are open to partner with other ones if they are reliable and ethical. As a subscriber, if you love African music, you will love Trace Africa. You should then contact your local pay-TV distributor.
Q. Why and where do you think Trace Africa has a large potential?

A. Why? For several reasons: First, because there are very few channels dedicated to African music. Secondly, because many artists have come to Trace to launch Trace Africa (because they can see the success of) Trace Urban which is today recognized as the number one music channel in Africa and has one of the best expertise in the world in the field of music scheduling. The result is here: Trace Africa has already been acclaimed and supported by many renowned African artists.

Thirdly, because Trace has a large catalogue of African music videos in its library and because Trace is constantly looking for promoting artists and musicians worldwide. Lastly, because many African or African descendents living outside Africa are permanently seeking after African music, and Trace is already a partner of many Pay-TV operators in the world, who will distribute this new channel. All these reasons combined together have created a positive environment for TRACE to launch TRACE Africa on a worldwide basis.
In terms of potential, I guess the channel will be popular in Africa and wherever there is a large African diaspora, mainly Western Europe and the Americas. But the channel could also appeal to African music lovers, and there are many of them around the world.

Q. How do you select the music clips available on Trace Africa?

A.Trace Africa offers a digest of music videos from the best African artists, from classics to the most recent. Music programming comes from all over Africa: coupé décalé, Afro pop, makossa, n’dombolo, kizomba, kwaito house...

On top of our Paris office -based in Clichy -  we have three local bureaux in Africa - in South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria. This is where we select the relevant music clips for Trace Africa and research local African artists. Once we have made our selection, we broadcast selected video clips free of charge but we then pay large music rights to SACEM (Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique) in France who will then pay authors royalties for being broadcast on a Trace TV channel. Submit your music videos to, by clicking on this link, and we will let you know if it has been selected for broadcast.
Q. What would you advice African musicians do to get more visibility on Trace channels and to generate extra revenues?
A. We would advise to invest in good quality videos, and to register with their local music society to get their rights protected. As explained, in France it is SACEM.
In Senegal for example, Youssou NDour has showed involvement in this rights distribution field. I believe that South Africa also has its agency.

If a local artists rights' protection agency does not exist, we would advise to register with SACEM in France as it offers great protection to artists. Once you do that and whenever your music is broadcast on local TV or radio, you should be able to get broadcast royalties back, depending on the agreement signed between Sacem and the country you are registered in. We can also help the artists we support to have their songs distributed on mobile phones - as ring back tones or ring tones - and to gain Europe-wide distribution.
Q. What do you do to increase your group's visibility in Africa?

A. Apart from our TV distribution network, we communicate a lot on the web - we feed social networks - and also partner with major local events' organisers: we are present at music festivals, fashion events, etc.
Q. How is Trace funded and what is Trace's financial situation right now?

A: Trace has been profitable since 2006, less than 3 years after its creation. Since then, Trace has increased its revenues thanks to the launches of the 3 other Trace-branded channels (Trace Tropical, Trace Sports and Trace Africa) and to the mobile and radio licenses Trace has established in Africa and in the French Caribbean. Therefore the company is quite healthy. But we need to keep investing in new projects all the time to keep on the edge.

Revenues come from license fees paid by TV distributors (payTV, etc.), advertising resources and derivatives and trademark licensing and content.  Our African bureaux also take care of local advertising and we also have agreements with TV distributors who insert advertising on our channels. We will increase our revenues in Africa but piracy is a major obstacle.
Q. What are your upcoming projects at Trace?
A. There are many. We have for example signed with CFI to produce a 26' TV magazine focused on 'the best of Trace’. Trace Stars will be distributed throughout Africa pretty soon. It should be available on national TV channels in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, DRC, Cameroon and more countries in a very next future.We will also launch radio stations, TRACE FM in several countries on the continent.


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Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr