I started working in Africa in 2000 when I signed Richard Bona for representation. For the past 22 years, one of the major challenges of working in Africa has been trying to string together events to create tours. In particular, some of the continent-specific challenges have been transport, finance, infrastructure, logistics and communication.
I came to believe that the problem was not simply to book more shows or get higher rates, but to create a long-standing infrastructure that could open the door to greater cooperation between professionals across the continent. The way of working in Africa requires a fundamental shift in mindset, not just about money or personal relationships.
In 2019, Walter Wanyanya and I created a non-profit cultural arts network across Africa called Cultural Connections Africa (CCA). The main objective of the CCA is to connect promoters, educators and cultural actors with each other to share resources, experiences and information about their activities in order to invite collaboration and cooperation. CCA’s mission is to provide professional development and mentorship, develop educational initiatives, help support economic development through culture, and create cultural exchange among African creators. CCA also strives to connect with the diaspora outside the continent and create strategic exchanges with other parts of the world – Asia, Latin America, Europe and the United States. These collaborations connect people far from their native lands with each other and promote unity and peace between nations through the arts.
Through CCA, I met Kayode Adebayo, CEO of Ckrowd, Africa’s most preferred, innovative and premium content streaming platform. Ckrowd (pronounced “crowd”) distributes African news, music, education and entertainment content to a global audience in the form of short videos and live streams. Ckrowd was created to solve the problem of low incomes of African and Afro-Diaspora content creators by allowing their to take advantage of the revenue opportunities available on the platform. Ckrowd also provides an online portal where original and exclusive varieties of African content are well curated, easily accessible and consumed in the form of short on-demand videos and live series.
With information and culture accessible from curated videos in the digital space, people can bring their cultural identity, traditions and values wherever they go, ushering in a new era of content creation and marketing. Video is arguably one of the most successful forms of content that creators can leverage to showcase their craft. Therefore, music artists invest a lot of money in creating breathtaking music videos that give unique visual expressions to their music. This makes music videos a very important marketing tool for music in most forms of media, especially digital media.
Music videos have become an integral part of the music marketing process as they visually give music a new perspective and drive strong engagement from digital video consumers of different demographics globally. Over the years, platforms like YouTube have been useful in distributing music videos as a unique digital music experience and had to change their algorithms to allow more streaming capacity among their users. This is due to the popularity of videos as a way to have an enjoyable mobile music experience, especially as digital music consumption has grown in popularity over the past 10-12 years.
Music video production has also required more budget over the years, even more than the cost of creating the actual music. This creates the need to consider a distinct and unique business model in approaching videos, thereby taking the cost and return on investment of investing in music videos more seriously. The activity of creating the audio version of the music should be addressed separately from the production of music videos, although the two are considered a single entity.
For example, a Mafikizolo song (audio) must be created and operated separately from a music video of the same song, using different means. Both should have different business strategies and be operated through distinct means. Both are perfectly capable of generating fantastic revenue as separate products (song, then video). A platform like Ckrowd is perfectly suited to support the publishing, distribution and monetization of exclusive videos for music creators, as they release their music videos first to their exclusive super fan audience, before anyone else. on the Internet. For this paid VIP viewing, long before general release to the free mainstream internet audience, creators are rewarded cash by their super fans for giving them access to an exclusive viewers club on the Ckrowd platform.
Ckrowd provides better monetization options for African creators as they have the freedom to price their content and choose from a variety of revenue strategies available on the Ckrowd platform. Revenue strategies include pay-per-view, donations, content rental and subscription. This means you don’t need millions of subscribers to make your video content a business, which I think is awesome. All you need is a good number of super fans who want to be part of your musical journey or your brand. For most of the previously mentioned streaming services, the metrics and requirements to be eligible for monetization are onerous and offer low payouts. Payouts on these platforms are usually predetermined by the number of content views, the sum total of the content catalog and many factors that are unrealistic for an average Internet user in Africa, where the cost of being on the Internet or use is still one of the highest in the world. the world.
Ckrowd pays out 70% of profits as creator revenue, which is the highest payout to African creators across all streaming platforms. Several platforms offer streaming services for placing video content, such as YouTube, Netflix, and Showmax, among others, but the question remains, how much do video creators actually earn from these service providers?
The question of monetization and revenue generation, especially for the African creator, remains a major concern. Earning revenue from some of these platforms drains creators financially, emotionally, and psychologically.
In many ways, tech platforms are an important way to project contemporary pop culture, and they can amplify it further by creating hypervisibility in different regions and digital markets. For this reason, stakeholders in the music, film and technology industries, such as Ckrowd, must continue to be at the forefront of technology and media. It is about ensuring that young people from Africa and the Diaspora can truly explore their culture and creativity. They need to have the right technological space to share their talents with the world, especially a space that protects their interests and wants to reward them for all their efforts. These tech spaces like Ckrowd and the various content creation and publishing activities that take place there would continue to provide unique job opportunities for young creative minds on the African continent.
Katherine McVicker is the founder and director of Music Works International and the CCA.