Interview with Afro-MP3

The series continues and today, I'm excited to be posting this inspirational interview with Mutsai Musa, co-founder of Afro-MP3.

Tapiwa-and-Mutsai (Co-founders Tapiwa Chimboza on the left and Mutsai Musa on the right)



What is Afro-MP3?
Afro-MP3 is the foremost online destination for free, legal downloads of urban music from the African continent. We deliver non-genre specific MP3’s through our content partners from all around Africa and the world.

All the music available on Afro-mp3 is either already on the internet or has been sent to us specifically for our listings. The artists represented are of African origin but may not necessarily still live on the continent. We are well aware of the nature of the diaspora and continue to support those artists that represent Africa regardless of where they are. We focus only on music because we believe its quality speaks for itself and it is a culture of its own.

What inspired you to create Afro-MP3?
We were frustrated by having to scour the internet for contemporary urban African music so we dedicated ourselves to finding it and bringing it to the world at large. As you know, there are many first generation Africans living in the diaspora who would like to stay in touch with current music from Africa. More often than not, African music is boxed in the ‘World Music’ genre but we do our utmost to expose all the urban music that would be right at home on the streets of Johannesburg or Lagos and the streets of London and New York alike.

We want to show that African music is not only about traditional instruments and vernacular languages. It is just as progressive as music from any other region in the world. In 2010 there has been a huge emphasis on Africa and the unexplored aspects of its music. Contemporary African artists such as K'Naan, Nneka, Blitz The Ambassador and Fokn Bois, among others, have taken the world by storm with their music and this has opened the gates, so to speak, for upcoming artists to showcase similar music and genres. We are creating a platform strictly for African music that celebrates our diversity and unity as Africans. 

What has been your greatest obstacle in running Afro-MP3?
There have been many obstacles, as with any start-up business, but the greatest has to be securing the confidence of content providers, i.e. the people who give us music to collate. It seems an unfortunate trend that Africans don't really back each others' ideas from day one and are always sceptical of each others' ventures. Our next challenge will be finding our rightful place on the mass that is the internet and providing unique, engaging and interesting content that will keep our users coming back for more. 

How have you overcome it?
Fortunately for us, the music we deliver is designed to be freely distributed anyway so, we found it, put it up, made people know about it, and only then did content providers and copyright owners endorse our project. After all, it's not meant to hurt them or take anything away from them. If anything, it's free marketing, distribution and endorsement from what shall become the premier online destination for contemporary urban music.


What has been your greatest achievement?
With all the obstacles that face any start-up venture, I believe the greatest obstacle will always be actually starting. It's relatively easy to come up with ideas because that doesn't take you out of your comfort zone but, for that idea to come to fruition is the greatest achievement of them all. Whether or not it ends up being a success is a separate issue, the key is to start it because that teaches you to live without fear. And we have begun. 

Where will Afro-MP3 be in 10 years?
Afro-MP3 will continue to do what we do for as long as the internet is a part of our daily lives. It forms the basis of a greater online distribution model with partner websites, of which I won't go into now. We hope that in less than 10 years, Afro-MP3 will be a vehicle for young African artists to launch their music on a large scale, complimenting traditional distribution and marketing models with an equal if not greater global impact. Currently, there is no other site like ours and although we are proud of this, we would like to encourage a greater culture of centralized sharing among African content producers and consumers. After all, music is potentially one Africa's biggest exports, we just need to figure out a way to work together to make it a reality.

Most importantly, it will always be FREE.

How does Africa inspire you?
Africa is beautiful in ways that see the senses fulfilled. In providing creative inspiration, Africa has no equal and this is reflected quite profoundly in its music. We are inspired by what it means to be African – how we have been spread all over the world but we can still relate to the Motherland and its music. African people inspire us to be strong because through all the hardships endured on our continent – still we rise. Ultimately, it is Africa's rhythm that inspires us the most – the core reason why we are doing what we are doing.

Anything else you'd like to share?
We would like to thank those who believed in what we were doing (maybe because it's free) and the people who kept checking on us to see if we were making any progress – it only served to motivate us even more. We welcome any suggestions on what music fans would like us to deliver. Give us some time, we'll find it. 

What should we look out for with Afro-MP3 in the coming weeks/months/year?
More music, more unique services, more fire!

I'm super inspired and charged up for the rest of the week with unity as my theme and some contemporary African urban music as my soundtrack! You can also find Afro-MP3 on Twitter and on Facebook. 

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