Africa's first home-grown platform for legal music downloads has launched in Senegal with the aim of promoting artists from the continent, paying them properly, and fighting internet piracy.
Internationally renowned musicians such as Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal are among almost 200 who have signed agreements with "MusikBi", along with younger rappers, jazz artists and Christian and Muslim singers.
"It is the first platform of its kind enabling music downloads by text or PayPal," Solid, the company behind the project, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The platform draws its name from the word for music in Wolof, the language widely spoken in Senegal and neighbouring Gambia.
Songs cost between 50 and 85 US cents and users can download them using mobile phone credit in a region where few possess bank cards.
READ MORE: Youssou N'Dour takes Senegal to the world
The company said that many African artists "cannot live comfortably by the proceeds of their work", adding that the platform offered a chance for "promotion and to allow them to make a living from their art".
Concerts were one of the few ways local artists had to really make money, the firm noted.
Piracy and changing consumer habits have seen record sales drop across the continent, with illegal downloads tempting African consumers looking online for music, while copyright enforcement remains relatively weak.
A source within the Solid group told the AFP news agency that after mobile operators took their share, artists kept 60 percent of their income from the service, while MusikBi took the remaining 40 percent.
MusikBi said it does not offer a streaming service because local internet speeds are too slow and the cost would be prohibitive, especially in a mobile-driven market.
|Artists will keep 60 percent of the income from the service, according to MusikBi [EPA]