African artists have a new online stage to show off their talent. Iroko, a digital entertainment startup based in Nigeria, has launched IrokoX, a cross-platform pan-African network for filmmakers, musicians and other creative aspirants to produce, distribute and monetize shorthand content.
The new medium will provide production assistance from selected artists, studio resources and the ability to showcase their work on global partner networks such as Youtube, iTunes and Google Play. IrokoX also provides the African creative ensemble with a platform to digitally monetize their 3-5 minute video short films.
“It will operate on an 80/20 revenue sharing model for the majority of users – artists get 80%,” said IrokoX CEO Oluchi Enuha. “We are looking for something that looks like a Maker Studios, in which professional and semi-professional creators in Africa can produce quality digital content, market it, share it with a wider audience and get paid,” he said. he said, referring to the US-based multi-actor. chain network purchased by Disney for $ 500 million in 2014.
Backed by $ 35 million in funding from investors such as Kinnevik and Tiger Global, IrokoX’s parent company, Iroko, was founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Jason Njoku in 2010.
Iroko’s new abridged video platform complements its existing download site and iroking Afrobeat signature irokotv product—A subscription movie-on-demand service with users in over 100 countries.
irokotv claims the title of the world’s largest distributor of African content, mostly drawn from the Nigerian Nollywood film industry, which is the second in the world by volume. It is also a competitor of Netflix, which entered Africa in 2016.
In 2014, Iroko established ROK Studios, headquartered in Lagos, to produce its own film and television content.
IrokoX will soon take advantage of these facilities and Iroko’s offices in New York and London, when it selects a series of artists in its first open call. “We will be launching a link this month for anyone to apply for. Musicians, fashion designers, journalists, anyone can submit a demo and go through the application process, ”said Enuha.
IrokoX will then match the selected artists with production resources, sponsorship and distribution channels. Iroko is already Youtube’s largest content partner in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a company statement.
So how will IrokoX generate revenue for its 80/20 division? “We’re going to leverage multiple streams: ad revenue, sales from distribution platforms with download sites like iTunes and Spotify, content syndication with third-party social and mobile media platforms, and branded marketing deals,” a declared Enuhu.
In recent years, African music and film stars have become powerful promotional vehicles for consumer goods companies. Big brands such as Uber, MTN and Guinness have used sponsorship of musicians, actors and entertainment to connect with the continent’s growing consumer classes, who are expected to spend $ 75 billion online by 2025, according to McKinsey Consulting.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, has emerged as a powerhouse for the continent’s creative content, producing pop music and Nollywood films with broad Pan-African appeal.
In 2014, the combined value of Nigeria’s music and film industry was estimated at $ 5 billion, although less than 1% of that came from official revenue streams, according to the Nigerian government. Lax enforcement of intellectual property and piracy has made it difficult for financiers, producers and artists in the continent’s largest entertainment market to recoup their investments and make money.
Digital platforms such as Iroko’s have offered a remedy for the distribution and monetization problems of the creative industry in Africa. Thanks to iroking, videos by Nigerian artists such as P-Square and Flavor regularly gain over 20 million YouTube visits. In 2015, Iroko paid $ 550,000 to content partners and generated 1.5 billion views through all of its distribution agreements.
Although Africa’s current low internet penetration (around 30%) creates a difficult environment for online entertainment networks, the prospects for digital content on the continent are improving.
Africa has one of the fastest growing youth populations in the world, broadband access is increasing and data costs are falling, and smartphone users are expected to exceed 720 million by 2020, according to the GSMA.
IrokoX CEO Oluchi Enuha sees benefits for the new network in the short and long term. “We are aware of this improving environment and we expect a large part of our audience to come from mobile,” he said. “Even though it is on the decline, the cost of mobile data remains high for many. It’s moving a lot of people to online video, YouTube, and shorthand content. This is the market that we are trying to capture.