This month we catch up with Martin Nielsen, the co-founder, and CEO of Mdundo. Mdundo has for the past 3 years grown into one of Africa’s leading music services with more than 1,500,000 active users every month.
“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?”
Mdundo music app has hit 1 million installs since its official launch in 2016. The East African leading music service first launched in Kenya and is currently being used in up to 10 African countries as well as in the diaspora. The app was designed for users to stream music from their favourite artists as well as DJ mixes.
The app users are able to follow their favourite artists and playlists for updates and new releases. It also allows users to enjoy curated playlists as well as their own custom made playlists. The music app is lightweight, taking up a 2.6 Mbs storage space on the user’s smartphone resulting to minimal data usage.
Find out the ups and downs, inspirations and toughest moments that made Mdundo the company that works with 40,000 musicians across Africa and provides music lovers easy and affordable access to music.
There have been many proud moments. And it is a bit unfair to compare them, because the most recent milestones are obviously bigger than the milestones that we were reaching 4-5 years ago. I’m pretty sure my proudest moment will take place within the next 1-2 months, but you will have to stay put for that one.
If I do have to highlight some moments from the past, then I would say it was the day we reached 100,000 users, I think it was in January/February 2014. I also recall the day I closed my first corporate deal and it was a very proud moment, it was a proof that we could make money on our model.
The toughest moment for me has been when the public opinion is against you. I remember a tweet a few years back from a very well-followed Kenyan opinion leader criticising our service based on information he had received in another tweet from a fan.
The problem is that the information was wrong and it made us look like we weren’t interested in the wellbeing of Kenyan musicians – something that we work hard for every day. That really hurt, especially because people rarely listen on social media.
We learned from a few social media discussions to stay quiet, however, this means that sometimes there will be rumours out there that you just can’t stop. In the music industry, everyone has followers and everyone wants attention even if it’s damaging others.
Easily. The more struggling an industry is, the easier it is for an entrepreneur to make his or her mark. It’s an early industry and as people are increasing their consumption of content (cheaper, faster, better internet) the industry will grow.
Today very few players in the industry are making money and it will be the entrepreneurial souls who will find out how to build and shape a real industry.
I think all the advice is already out there. Any advice I would give was already given to me and I probably didn’t listen. I think it’s important that you are passionate about what you do – otherwise you will burn out.
I think it’s important that you do it for the knowledge and experience and that every milestone you reach is considered a victory. I also think it’s important that you think big.
The mentality of all artists inspires me. The chances of succeeding as a musician (as in, paying the bills) are close to zero all over the world, only 1-2 musicians out of 1,000 will make it. That’s the situation in all creative industries.
However, in Kenya even if you do make it, the living you can maintain is so poor because the money doesn’t end up with you. Deciding to follow a passion like music is crazy. Crazy inspiring.
Yes, there are two entrepreneurs. Daniel Ek, Spotify, due to the similarities of our business I have been following him closely the past 5 years. I’ve learned a lot from his perspectives on the music industry.
The other one is a personal friend of mine who I consider a mentor as well, he has been running and growing two global online businesses with great success and no matter how busy he is or where he is in the world he always has time to schedule a 20 minutes call with me.
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