With Jay-Z buying Tidal and Chance the Rapper saving SoundCloud, Senegalese-American rapper Akon is the latest performer to join the music business by acquiring 50% of the shares of Senegalese music download service Musik Bi making him the main shareholder.
Musik Bi features over 200 internationally recognized artists, majorly rappers and jazz musicians, with music for religious and secular listeners. Akon made the acquisition announcement earlier this week in Dakar, saying:
"Musik Bi is the platform of the future. It's not just a platform for Senegal but for Africa."
The service launched 18 months ago – February 2016 – with a mission to promote African artists, pay them properly, and fight internet piracy; and while it has gained some traction and awareness, the platform has struggled to gain a foothold in the industry.
Musik Bi CEO, Moustapha Diop, has said that ongoing disputes with phone companies over their cut of takings had hindered Musik Bi's reach. Users pay for Musik Bi downloads with their phone credit, but the parties involved are yet to come to an agreement on the profit share ratio from music purchases.
With Akon on board, the company hopes it will be able to come up with better solutions to its challenges as well as leverage on Akon's influence to expand their catalog of music and services to include streaming, music festivals, and TV.
This is not Akon's first foray into technology, in 2014, he launched Akon Lighting Africa, in partnership with other stakeholders, to bring solar electricity to Africans living off the grid.