Mobilising African music: how mobile telecommunications and technology firms are transforming African music sectors

Christiaan De Beukelaer, Andrew J. Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper explores the role of mobile telecommunication and technology firms (MTTs) in the distribution of recorded music in Ghana and Kenya. These countries both have vibrant music markets with weak formal distribution networks. Limited enforcement of copyright regimes and weak market regulation created new entrepreneurial business models. While ‘big tech’ dominates this space elsewhere, in African contexts the main players are mobile service providers (e.g. MTN, Vodafone, Tigo) and digital content firms (e.g. Liberty Afrika, MTech, Cellulant). These transnational players cater to fast-growing consumer markets that do not have easy access to major music distribution platforms such as iTunes and Spotify (which tend to provide very limited access to ‘local’ content, in any case). Despite their particular and increasingly significant roles, very little empirical attention has been paid to the activities of mobile telecommunication and technology firms (MTTs) in music sectors. This paper takes stock of why and how MTTs have entered into the business of recorded music distribution in Ghana and Kenya, and assesses the ramifications of their entry for the music sectors in these and other African countries as part of broader global shifts in the production, distribution and marketing of recorded music.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of African Cultural Studies
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020

Keywords

  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Music industry
  • m-commerce
  • mobile phones
  • music distribution
  • piracy
  • telecoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Music
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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