Independent artists in Kenya can make Spotify one of their most important revenue streams by releasing music and growing their audiences. [Photo/Finance Brokerage]
Independent artists in Kenya can make Spotify one of their most important revenue streams by releasing music and growing their audiences. [Photo/Finance Brokerage]

Kenya is among 80 new markets that digital service provider (DSP) Spotify ventured into in 2021. Several other countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America were part of the roll-out.

The streaming service has quickly picked up in the country, where users previously had to use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access Spotify as it wasn’t available in their region.  Its free tier in Kenya is already supported by advertisements from some of the biggest companies – including market-leading banks and telcos and its premium tiers continue to gain new subscribers.

For artists around the world, DSPs including Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer and Pandora among others are important revenue streams. In Kenya, players such as Boomplay and Mdundo have also managed to capture sizeable market share offering streaming and offline-listening for music alongside curated content.

The superstars rake in millions of dollars from Spotify every year. It is estimated that Drake made $52.5 million (Ksh5.6 billion) from 21 billion streams on the platform in 2020 making him the platform’s highest earner. The likes of Ed Sheeran, Justin Beiber, Cardi B, J Balvin, Post Malone, The Weekend and Ariana Grande are all estimated to have made upwards of $10 million (Ksh1 Billion) from the platform in the same 12-month period.

Smaller artists with solid, large followings have also been able to generate substantial income from the platform.

How to Get Your Music on Spotify in Kenya

Traditionally, many Kenyan artists prioritize Youtube for their releases. It has a tonne of users in the country and almost no barrier of entry for uploads, so it makes sense. But beyond Youtube, many artists are still missing out on audiences who are changing in how they listen to music – more are spending less time searching music on Youtube and instead streaming albums, singles and playlists on platforms such as Spotify.

It is preferable to have a strategy as an artist that ensures your music is accessible on major platforms where fans find music, particularly if you’re still trying to generate a buzz or remain relevant.

So how do you get your music on Spotify as an artist in Kenya?

For Labels in Kenya

If you’re signed to a record label, they’ll probably do it for you. Record labels without direct licenses to Spotify have to go through label distributors who handle licensing and distribution to the platform. Labels are paid royalties based on the streams the music receives.

Most distributors have charge various fees and commissions for distribution, so it remains crucial for labels to do their own research to ensure they are working with the most trusted distributors and getting the best deals. Some of the well-known label distributors include Believe, FUGA, Repost by Soundcloud, The Orchard, Absolute Label Services and Proton.

For Artists in Kenya

As an independent artist, you also have to understand the process. You need to work with a distributor to get your music on Spotify.

The distributor can handle your licensing and distribution to Spotify as well as other DSPs. It is also your distributor that will pay you royalties based on the streams your music has received.

Many distributors have online platforms that allow artists to upload their music to platforms such as Spotify, with a one-off fee or commissions often part of the deal. They include CD Baby, DistroKid, EmuBands, Record Union, Vydia and iGroove.

As always, it is extremely vital to do your own research before settling on a platform. If you are keen on keeping 100% on your royalties, for example, or great customer service, you have to ensure that your chosen distributor offers that.

On these verified platforms, artists can get paid monthly.

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Importantly, you also get instant access to Spotify for Artists – a platform that enables you to see statistics and learn about your audience, manage your artist profile and promote your music.

On Spotify for Artists – you can also pitch your music to Playlist editors. Getting on playlists is a sure-fire way to grow your audience on Spotify as it is through them that many fans discover artists they end up falling in love with.

Working with a distributor also allows you to get your music on other platforms and track statistics on listeners and earnings. It offers an avenue to follow up on infringement issues, such as to ensure you get paid when someone else uses your music in a Youtube video, a way to get your lyrics and credits on DSPs, backups and more.

A benefit of working with a good distributor is that your music will be easily accessible, verified and devoid of errors such as misattribution or lack of metadata – giving it the best chance to be heard by as many people as possible.

Once you have your music on Spotify, it is time to do the hard work of promoting it. Share your music with the world, and you just might soon be earning the big bucks from such platforms.

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