'Nigerian iTunes' dances to the mobile phone beat

Digital Content

Founded by three university friends, MyMusic.com.ng is an ambitious startup aiming to be the major online distribution channel for Nigerian music. The new digital service is focused on providing an easy and affordable way for music fans to access their favorite songs, which are often hard to find in one place.

"We have no single source of aggregated Nigerian music of African origin," says Tola Ogunsola, chief executive and co-founder of MyMusic. "So Africa is missing on the world map in terms of musical content -- so the potential is huge."

MyMusic is designed to work similarly to other digital music stores, such as iTunes. But its payment options are largely catered to deal with the characteristics of the Nigerian market, which is mainly a cash only society.

Mobile phone users can select the song they want to download and pay instantly for it using their credit. Songs cost 50 naira, or about 31 U.S. cents.

"When users click the pay by mobile button, the download is automatically initiated on their mobile phones and the fee is deducted from their mobile credit," explains co-founder Damola Taiwo, who is also the startup's chief operating officer.

Nigeria, Africa's second biggest economy, is one of the biggest and fastest growing mobile markets in the continent, with more than 100 million active subscribers.

It's this market that the young entrepreneurs behind MyMusic hope to tap, filling a musical void for the country's cell phone users.

"Mobile holds the biggest potential for us," says Taiwo, adding that more than 40 million phones in Nigeria are connected to the web.

"The majority of these users have their mobile phones as their only connection to the internet and any form of technology."

Computer users can also download songs via the pay by mobile method -- entering their phone number on MyMusic's website -- on top of the standard credit card and PayPal payment methods.