Zimbabwean startup Zimbo Music, a web portal for the sharing, discovering and dowloading of music from African artists, is seeking funding as it looks to build on a strong start and become the platform of choice for music buyers in Southern Africa.
Launched in August of last year, Zimbo Music allows established and upcoming artists to upload their music, bio and pictures as well as promote events, while users can find, purchase, stream and download music.
The startup currently has over 300 artists on the platform and in excess of 5,000 users, with revenues – an average of US$1,500 per month thus far – coming from adverts, paid downloads, music shows, ticket sales and commission.
Co-founders Makhosini Mpofu and Isaiah Nyathi are in the process of seeking funding to expand Zimbo Music. Much of the music on the site is from South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), and the startup plans to expand into Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and other parts of the region.
The idea for the company was based on personal experience, with both Mpofu and Nyathi artists themselves.
“We had first-hand experience of how hard it is to make name for yourself, grow your fan base and get exposure. A lot of talented artists find it very hard to make it to the big time and get their music out there,” Mpofu said. “We saw the need to breach the gap.”
He said there was an “overwhelming number” of talented and skilled artists in Zimbabwe, but most of them are not known due to poor marketing.
“We also realised there are no platforms and competitions where artists can showcase their talent and skill. There are too many stumbling blocks and bottlenecks when it comes to the current channels. There is limited marketing and there is simply not enough exposure. There is limited news on African music and there are not enough African online platforms when it comes to selling music,” Mpofu said.
Hence Zimbo Music, which joins a myriad of other music startups in the African tech space, ranging from NicheStreem, to Mdundo, to Bozza. A Spotify launch on the continent is also a possibility. So what does Mpofu think makes his startup stand out from what is a growing crowd?
“We will do artist management, we also conduct training and workshops for artists, and we also offer artists co-working space, but all of this is on a small scale. We are in the process of launching a musical app as well,” he said.
Funding has proven the biggest obstacle to growth thus far, while the startup is also on the lookout for mentors.
“We have struggled to raise startup capital and we have struggled to market the business and create awareness,” Mpofu said.
“We also did not have mentor and we have had to make our own mistakes and learn from them. Fortunately now there are hubs and accelerator programmes, but when we started Zimbo Music there was none of that.”