The local music industry has for long struggled to find its footing on the international market due to lack of systematic exposure to the global community and very few artistes in Rwanda can solely rely on their music for financial gains.
Now they could soon find a solution to their music getting promoted through Yeyote Music, a mobile streaming application. The application has emerged as a database for only Rwandan music where any music lover from across the world can easily access the songs via their smartphones.
The application was developed by Anselme Mucunguzi and Theophile Nsengimana, who both recently completed their university studies in coding in the United States.
The developers are eager to contribute to promotion and marketing of local music worldwide and make an impact in shaping the welfare of artistes by helping them sell their music.
Jean d’Amour Kwizera, the Artiste Relationships Officer of Yeyote Music in Rwanda said, besides being a business, the application will help artistes market, promote and expose Rwandan music on the international scene, just like other music applications like Amazon and Spotify, among others, work.
“The idea was intended to contribute in the promotion of our local artistes’ music so it can easily reach the global community and see how artistes can start making money out of it. There is now hope that local artistes, if they deliver quality music content, can become big international artistes and win different deals on the international market, with Yeyote Music. The ball is now in their hands,” Kwizera said.
With Yeyote Music, one can stream and download while the offline mode will soon be launched and through these ways, artistes can start making benefits.
“We have good music but we need to be able to push it and go all the way abroad. We are aware some people out there always wonder how they can get local songs,” Kwizera added.
Before the application officially started in January, developers first tested it between June 2016 and end of 2017.
In only five months after it started, the application counts at least 5000 daily visits locally and 200,000 times globally. So far over 400 artistes have already agreed to work with Yeyote Music and the application is expected to generate income from music downloads, plays and streaming.
The main clause in the agreement indicates that, when it comes to revenue from music, both parties, the artist and the company, will pocket 60 and 40 per cent share from the music streaming income respectively while the artiste will also take 70 per cent on every music download.
“We know artistes do their music as a business and we hope the application can make profits if all things go as planned,” Kwizera says.
Popular local artistes who have already signed up with the music app include Israel Mbonyi, Serge Iyamuremye, Patient Bizimana, Masamba Intore, Maria Yohana and Jaba Star Intore while a big number of secular musicians like Tom Close, Mico the Best, Urban Boys and Bruce Melodie, among many have agreed to have their songs in the application database.
Yeyote leaves no limit when uploading the songs on the application database as all kinds of music, either secular, traditional or gospel is considered.
What artistes say
Phil Peter, a local radio personality, suggests Rwandans need to support Yeyote Music so the music industry can find its feet on the global market.
“I think our music should have a known platform so it is massively and easily accessed with good quality. We should therefore support any platform whose target, like Yeyote’s, is to promote Rwandan music. The rest of the world will like our music if only we join hands and support our artistes and I believe this can be achieved,” he said.
Humble Jizzo, real name, James Manzi of Urban Boys, backs the application’s initiative in the local music promotion but remains unsure of how he can benefit financially from the application.
“Its 10 years now since I have been in the [music] industry releasing as many hits as possible but I must be harvesting big now. Yeyote Music is a good innovation worth supporting but the problem remains ‘how much should I expect from the business from our songs?’ I spend a lot of money in the studio to record a song but in return, people make too much money out of our properties than we do.
If Yeyote Music wants to work with us, something needs to be clear. They need to show us a clear action plan and let us know where our benefits lie like other platforms work such as YouTube,” he said.
Masamba Intore also said that he had a chance to visit YouTube headquarters and was shown how views for their songs are counted and how much one gets out of a particular number of views. He welcomes Yeyote music’s commitment but questions their approach to the artistes.
“It would be very a good idea to promote our music, but they [Yeyote Music developers] need to first approach us and we discuss on how the business will respect copyrights rules because of the cheating in our music business. People are selling our music on their channels and we are getting nothing out of it and there is no way to stop them. I had no chance to meet them but one thing is that, if YouTube can show you how you earn your money from your songs, then they should come to us and do the same” he said.
But Kwizera asserts that the application’s system is clear and is ready to explain to anyone who wishes to know how it works.
“Artistse’ profits on their songs will depend on the sales of their songs. The system is clear. They are now our bosses and the more they earn the more we earn. We will keep approaching more artistes until we reach our dreams together,” he said.