MTN Group, the world’s 15th largest mobile telecommunications company as measured by subscribers at 31st March 2014, is the largest distributor of music in Nigeria.
According to Richard Iweanoge, MTN Nigeria’s General Manager for Consumer Marketing, MTN became the largest distributor of music in Nigeria through its highly subscribed ring back tones (RBT) popularly known as “caller tunes” which was launched in 2008 as a revenue stream for the company. He further stressed how technology has taken the place of traditional mode of music distribution which involved bulk sales of CD’s and huge complaints of piracy.
MTN’s ringtone download service is being used by more than two-third of MTN’s 63 million subscribers as estimated by Bloomberg and has met the needs of Nigerians who love to buy music but do not know the legal way to get them. In addition, most Nigerians find it cheap to download songs of their favourite artiste for as low as N50 ($0.25) and the company has recorded growth of 25% every year, said Richard Iweanoge.
Other platforms Nigerians use include Spotify- a digital music service that gives access to millions of songs, and Apple Music with more than 6.5 million paying customers and second largest most popular music subscription service behind Spotify, according to its chief executive Tim Cook. Furthermore, these online platforms has helped artiste with a secured form of revenue, and they have subsequently signed deals with groups using this platform.
MTN Group Ltd sells songs by popular Nigerian artistes like Dbanj, 2Face, Davido, among popular artistes. Dbanj, an ambassador for brands from Apple’s Beats Music to Diageo’s Ciroc Vodka remarked earning more than $200,000 in the last 18 months outside his revenue from Apple Inc.’s iTunes which is close enough to buy him a Ferrari.
With the wide outreach to subscribers, MTN caller tunes has an array of over 12,000 songs. MTN also developed a music app- MTN Music Plus, available for all android users to help them search and download their favourite songs with ease.
Despite rampant piracy, the music industry has seen sales triple in the past five years from music download increase. “With at least 550 albums each year, artiste revenue from sales is worth more than $150 million annually and most artistes in Nigeria are exploring this platform devoid of piracy to monetise their songs”, said Sam Onyemelukwe, chief executive officer of Lagos-based Entertainment Management Co, partner of Paris-based Trace TV.
This remarkable feat has attracted one of the most financially and successful rap artiste in the United states, Shawn Corey Carter, popularly known as Jay Z into Nigeria’s market. He plans to make his personally owned Tidal music-streaming business a global company by penetrating into Nigeria.
No doubt, MTN has made significant impact in the Nigerian music industry through its music related value added services. MTN is not reluctant as they seek to achieve more feats in the entertainment industry.