We live in a world where a DJ from Brooklyn, New York can download the newest EP from a Nigeria-based rapper the day it’s released. The Internet closes the distance between the two hip-hop heads, and social media allows them to communicate and foster a musician-listener relationship that would be impossible several years ago.

For more insight into the role social media plays in the digital music distribution industry, we talked to one of our advisory board members Mark Redguard.

Mark is the Chief Marketing Officer at Spinlet, Africa’s foremost digital music company. With a passion for all things music and multi-media, he works through Spinlet to help develop African talent while establishing a structure that ensures artists can generate revenue within the digital space and expose their works to a global market.

Q: What, if anything notable, makes the mobile music industry different or unique on the African continent?

A: Mobile music is unique here in Africa because there are more mobile phones than toothbrushes. Sounds funny, but it’s true. People like music and mobile is one way they can take their music with them anywhere they go. Not so many people have Internet on a computer, but more have access to Internet on their phone. This has given rise to content consumers from the African continent that has kept growing. It is to these growing consumers that we are making more content available, by bringing them music on their mobile in a way that rewards and sustains content creators–artists and record labels.

Q: In what way does social media drive the mobile music industry in general?

A: Social media drives music by helping folks discover who’s hot and what music is making waves. Take a look at PSY’s Gangnam Style – that’s been a global sensation in the past few months on YouTube. One of the factors that gave it that popularity is social media power. We’ve also seen how the likes of Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black, Dammy Krane and other new entrants/old timers have been able to reach larger audience using social media.

There’s the example of what Don Jazzy did with DBanj’s Oliver Twist beat and the dance style. He allowed talents to freestyle to the beat and share their song online using social media. Folks were also asked to do the Oliver Twist dance in a competition and upload the dance to YouTube in order to win a prize. All these made the song Oliver Twist gain an early momentum and a large following. It is very common to look at the videos of many of the songs on YouTube and see a link to where the songs can be downloaded to a mobile phone. This gives folks that want the song to get it and download it onto their phone.

Q: How does social media play a role at Spinlet?

A: At Spinlet, we use Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. We use Twitter more. Customers like to speak about their brand on Twitter and praise a service or ridicule the service based on their experience. We’ve been able to pick different conversation about SPINLET on Twitter and respond to the questions, acknowledge praise and help new users find their way around our service.  We have noticed that they find this appealing and end up recommending our service to their friends through their different social media platforms.

Q: As CMO at Spinlet, what’s your philosophy for Spinlet’s success? What were some challenges you faced when you started there?

A: In many African countries there is a trust issue within the music industry.  The music fraternity creates valuable Intellectual Property but feel they are not adequately compensated for public performance, increasing listenership and radio advertisements, TVC’s, artist endorsements, etc.

The problem is further compounded by the creative industries no treceiving adequate private and government investment for
sustainability.  As such, Spinlet has made a concerted effort to give the sub-Sahara music industry more exposure and business opportunities through Spinlet – digital distribution.  Spinlet has been active in exposing African artist’s to the global market through key music conferences like MIDEM (the largest music conference in Europe held annually at Cannes, France) and sponsoring the 1st African Music Showcase at North America’s largest music festival, SXSW in Austin,

Our philosophy for success is to invest in the local music markets across sub-Sahara Africa, to create an enabling environment for the promotion, marketing and distribution of African artists and their music to music lovers across Africa, the Diaspora, and the Caribbean in over 80+ countries.

Spinlet has been building one-on-one relationships with artist; assisting in artist development, and leveraging African music in the global arena.  Spinlet has made valuable contribution into developing artist trust and helping to build momentum in the growth and distribution of African music globally.

Q: How important will social media be to the future of the mobile music industry? What are some trends you’re noticing?

A: There’s a shift in the way we communicate and share moments. Social media has become a vehicle that many people use more. In the future, it will be as common as how the local post office was in major towns back in the days. People share what they are watching, listening to, who they are with, where they are and the very trivial things that we were used to keeping to ourselves in the past are now available in public domain due to the trend of how people share using social media.

People will depend more on different social media tools to consume contents and share what they like among the people they are connected to. There’s a growing trend where people want to get a song as it is released online, they will keep looking for the social media profile of the artists they love and connect with them, artists will depend more on social media to reach their audience.

Q: Any advice to companies in the industry that want to start using social media? What are some common mistakes you’ve seen companies in mobile music make when it comes to social media usage?

A: There’s a need to have a social media management team. These teams need to be guided by a rule and this rule will help them project the image of the brand and resolve any problems that customers may be having. This rule will also ensure that the individual(s) representing the brand on social media won’t go overboard. At the same time, there’s need for the person to be lively and not act like a robot. Be fun and be interesting.

I have noticed that some digital music distribution companies are simply interested in bombarding their fans and followers with messages about offers and the music that is available for download. In the real sense, users of social media platforms want to have fun and meet their own need. An interesting photo or piece of news that may not be entirely linked to music can generate a lot of conversation for the brand on social media.

I advise that digital music distribution companies learn their audience need and constantly adjust their strategy to suit what their audience wants. Try a method, measure it, reapply or change it depending on the result you get. The strategy that works for brand A may not work for brand B.

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