GBEDU.FM: Next Steps And A Few Thoughts

You must have seen Loy’s post.

GBEDU.FM as a product is far from dead. Moving servers just took longer than planned. It was down but not out. As a startup though, GBEDU.FM was in zombie mode.

When GBEDU.FM launched early last year, albeit arrogantly, I had plans that did not end up materializing. Unfortunately, for the music business and most consumer startup plays, you need quite a bit of runway before you can self sustain as a business. Sadly, I never got that runway, which meant that I could not focus on GBEDU.FM. December came, things happened and I decided to reevaluate.

There are two parts to building a successful technology startup. First, you have to build a bit of the product, then you need the market that can sustain it. You then keep improving both sides.  Whereas, if you are say, selling generators, the product is already built. You just need to find your market. With a startup, you are juggling both. One begets the other. Kinda delicate. I salute those that juggle it successfully.

Back to GBEDU.FM.

If it is neither dead, nor a zombie, what is it?

I would call it hibernating. Just there, not trying to move but not dead. It exists for my personal pleasure and that of the few hundred people that love it. Although the code has not been touched in a year, I still believe it is a great place to listen to Nigerian music online.

iRoking, Spinlet, TruSpot and co are spending quite a bit of money, trying to solve the problem of creating the best way to discover, listen to and share music from the African continent. Presently, you are better off downloading from the gazillion music blogs out there and playing your music locally. That is until Deezer launches in Nigeria fully.

For the future of music, especially in Africa, I strongly believe in the following.

  1. Most music will remain free

  2. Like on YouTube, the breakout of a song or artist should be democratic. Power would not be centralized with a few OAPs and radio DJs

  3. Discovery of new acts and songs is really important.

  4. There are several unpiratable business models  that will reward the artists (e.g call back tunes, merchandising, concerts) that are yet to be be executed well

  5. The best music service and not the best funded will get the users. For now, downloading from music blogs is the best. (Note that Hulkshare, 4shared, et al get their references from the music bloggers)

  6. Africa has the best chance of innovating a new business model for music. 95% of songs are indie made, therefore, the unfortunate supplier power stranglehold that exists in the west is absent.

This philosophy encapsulates my thinking about the music startup business

“Music startup” is a misnomer, most music startups are actually music file startups.  If you want to actually create a music startup you have to combine cultural understanding of music + identification of new acts/trends that haven’t been picked up by existing labels & media, with a deep understanding of new media technologies.  Basically, think of the Web 2.0 equivalent of a Suge Knight.  Nobody has ACTUALLY started a music startup yet — probably because it is hard to have both cultural and technical sophistication.

If someone creates a really authentic new digital space with authentic new artists, and uses the new digital medium to deliver the close personal relationship today’s music fans / etc want out of their bands and personalities, they are likely to make a fortune.  Redistribution of existing content owned/controlled by labels and (equally evil) rights agencies is an epic failure of a business model, and does very little to address the massive thirst in the marketplace for new, interesting, authentic culture

– Numair Faraz on why it is difficult to build a music startup


Until someone executes this, this music business will still be at the back of my mind. Yes, back. 🙂

Thank you to all of you that have relentlessly supported me no matter how ridiculous my idea may have  been. From the depths of my heart, I am grateful.

So what’s next for me?

Onwards.

 

Thanks to Nmachi for feedback on a draft of this post

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