Kenyan music startup Smubu hits 200k user mark, plans expansion

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Kenyan music streaming startup Smubu is planning international expansion after reaching 200,000 active users and 100,000 tracks on its platform within 18 months of launching.

Founded in January 2018, Smubu aims to make African music legally and easily accessible to users. Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Jad Aizarani told Disrupt Africa it hopes to become the leading music platform on the continent. 

“What makes us different is that our vision is built on working closely with artists in providing them a fair share of revenue for every single download they get on our platform. The platform is technically built to provide statistics, potential revenue, and tracks download numbers and streams,” he said. 

“Day by day we are working to unlock the potential of African artists creativity by giving them the opportunity to live off their art by cooperating with them to fight music piracy.”

Initial uptake has certainly been strong. Smubu already has 200,000 active users using its web and mobile app each month, and has more than 100,000 tracks on the platform. Aizarani said the startup, which raised funding last year and is set to take on another round later in 2019, as following the Spotify model by rolling out a freemium version followed by a premium offering at a later date.

“The continent still does not have an amazingly locally-built music application, and that is what we are trying to do – building great user experience, artists getting paid, users enjoying on-demand music, anytime and anywhere. We are initially focused on East Africa, the music here amazes me and my team, and we truly believe that we can push it internationally,” he said.

Headquartered in Nairobi, Smubu is already pushing further afield. Aizarani said it has established a team in Uganda, which is responsible for artist relationship management and content curation, and plans to soon open an office in Tanzania. 

“Our goal is to further expand to the West in the coming months,” he said.

“We’re here to stay, and to make a difference in the music game in Africa. We hope that Smubu becomes a home for all musicians emerging from Africa.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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