The recent success for Zimbabwean hip hop artists Junior Brown has a number of us salivating at the figures that have come out of the release of the song. $6,000 in 6 days (probably $7,000 by now) is not pocket change, and for a song is even more impressive.
Yes, James Mpakula (Jnr Brown’s real name) has been at the hit song ‘Tongogara‘ for a number of years and this is just the culmination of those years of effort to a song that speaks about the challenges that Zimbabweans are faced with where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Though a bit late to be nominated for either a Hip Hop , NAMA or ZIMA Award, this track is bound to be on many playlists for some time to come.
But how did he do it? $6,000 is no pocket change and a lot of people think that selling music is dead and artists can only make their money from hosting shows and not through sales of songs.
1. Great Song
A song that was written from the heart, Tongogara was a 5 year in production piece that happened to strike a cord with its listeners. Jnr Brown dug into his roots with a much more afro-centric production, something that struck a cord with listners and as the say, ‘the rest is history’.
2. Social Media
Who doesn’t use social networks nowadays? Just about everybody and their cat are either on Facebook or WhatsApp (which unsurprisingly are owned by the same company) and the team used the social platforms to reach out to their fans and let them know about the song. The mobile networks assisted indirectly somewhat, with each of them offering their subscribers “bundles” that allow users to pay a flat fee and access the service for an unlimited period. The also made use of Econet’s ‘free Twitter’ access to reach out to their followers.
3. Mobile Money
The is no secret as to the adoption of mobile money in Zimbabwe. This is not only to receive money from out the country but also to make and receive payments. The team behind Tongogara saw this and leveraged the platforms well, allowing ease of payment when wanted the song.
The sale of the song was at $1, which is manageable for a number of people – in this case 7,000. That specific figure also sees the mobile networks exempting the the payment from transaction fees for the buyer, meaning that $1 is $1, no hidden costs.
Giving listeners a snippet of the song and setting up a system to allow for pre-orders was a brilliant idea. Artists know that there is a short window period to which they can make sales of their music, as once it gets out there, people just share it among their friends, with the singer not getting direct commercial benefit (though some argue that this gets people to hear the song and what to attend their shows).
Prior to the launch of the song, Junior Brown made appearances on StarFM and ZiFM to promote his work. This need him to reach out to the DJs and get them to want him on their how. There are also the various platforms where he engages with his fans (Facebook page and Twitter profile) and undoubtedly this was leveraged to gain more audience of his work.
What lessons have you learnt from the sale and distribution of Junior Brown’s latest hit Tongogara?
You can catch the pre-release below: