(Kenya) Nyagaka Amenya: a start-up that aims to democratize prosperity & connect under represented artists while improving livelihoods through music/art in Africa

October 5, 2023

Hepi Music is a start-up that aims to democratize prosperity & connect underrepresented artists while improving livelihoods through music/art in Africa.

Tell us about yourself.

 How did I find myself in HEPI MUSIC? I would say HEPI MUSIC found me in my thoughts and dreams, and then I later found it. My background is in construction, as I’m a registered Quantity Surveyor. It really seems like a mismatch of sorts, but it was love at first sight, or can we say thought? I have a love for innovation and creativity, which is not really in abundance in the construction industry due to the laws of physics. Very early in life, I toyed with the idea of being an Architect; it made sense then because I was very good at drawing, and I felt that I would get to explore my creative instincts. I somehow found myself in building economics/quantity surveying, but that creative bug never died, and I constantly tried to imprint that energy where I could. Music offered me a retreat for this because of its resonance with creativity, but I only wanted to experience it, not create it or be an artist. This made me delve deep into finding creative musical art that is not always found in mainstream media due to the commercialization of music that is the reality of our times. What I noticed is that there is really a whole world of remarkable musical art that was literally not getting explored. We have all come to this realization a number of times, whereby an artist you’ve never heard of has made such a remarkable song, then you wonder, why isn’t this guy/this song viral? Then it hits you: How is he/she going to be viral as long as Drake/Taylor Swift/Beyonce don’t want to retire? That’s when the aha! The moment hit: these guys need a platform of their own where they can rub shoulders with their peers. Even boxing/professional fights offer such diversity of categories, no matter the skill and capability. You don’t expect a middleweight to come up against a heavyweight and win; that’s an unfair duel. I proceeded to partner with like-minded friends, and we set up this platform called HEPIMUSIC.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

 Failure is a destination, while success is a journey. I’d encourage myself and anyone to keep on pushing through challenges and setbacks as the solutions to them will be found along the way; you only fail when you stop.

What problem does your business solve?

 Monetization and distribution of Local musical art for artists are not at the top of the value chain. If you have noticed, existing streaming platforms majorly benefit big-name artists on aspects of monetization and distribution/reach, while the upcoming/underground/independent artists who form the majority get the short end of the stick. What really happens is that the lesser-known artists crowd each other out while the big-time artists like Cream manage to rise to the top. HEPI MUSIC platform is attempting to redesign the existing value chains through which artists can make a living. We have noted market failures in the existing value chains created by the current dominant streaming platforms.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

 From my personal experience, the music audio-streaming market is still under-explored in Kenya and the greater sub-Saharan Africa region. There are already existing streaming platforms like Spotify/Apple Music/Deezer, but their penetration is only concentrated on a particular band of listeners who are mostly found in urban centers. You can’t say there isn’t a market for it, as other apps like YouTube/TikTok have a higher market penetration while offering roughly the same product with different packaging. The music audio segment is still dominated by radio, which needs to change, and that’s where we want to come in.

What is your magic sauce?

 We are the only indigenous start-up in this segment. You don’t expect a visitor to your house to know where to locate the TV remote faster than you or your kids. We understand consumer behaviors and patterns more and also know where to make a change/tweak to the current set-up to reap more value for the consumer and the artists. We are in the process of building a mobile app that will have a different algorithm/set-up to how music is consumed/shared, the same way TikTok changed the narrative of how video content is shared/consumed, which has totally revolutionized the game.

What is the plan for the next five years? What do you want to achieve?

 We are strategizing on expanding to East Africa before making a plunge for the rest of Africa. We want to be the official and most entrenched audio streaming platform that sufficiently highlights the diversity and vibrancy of African culture.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

 We initially had every intention of launching the mobile app from the get-go, but we backtracked on that. We realized that an audio streaming mobile app would be a hard sell without the proper groundwork. We needed to set up systems and networks first before the rollout of the mobile app due to the fact that it is imperative to build a relationship with the artists first for them to trust in us. We changed course to a web app, which was simpler to deploy and execute; it also helped us to easily sell the vision we had for HEPI MUSIC. At this juncture, we can confidently say that we have achieved the intended goals set, and we are steadily planning to transition to a mobile app. All stakeholders involved are looking forward to it.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

 Being a start-up in its infancy, we are open to any genuine engagement that will help steer us in the right direction, i.e., market reach/penetration. We are looking to expand our team by pulling in competent programmers/developers (backend/frontend) willing to rough it out at an African start-up. Any interested parties can reach us at hepiltd21@gm

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