Africa’s artists have a new online stage to display their talent. Nigeria based digital entertainment startup Iroko has launched IrokoX, a multi-platform Pan-African network for filmmakers, musicians, and other creative aspirants to produce, distribute, and monetize short-form content. The new medium will provide select artists production assistance, studio resources, and the opportunity to show their work on global partner networks such as Youtube, iTunes, and Google Play. IrokoX also provides Africa’s creative set a platform to digitally monetize their 3-5 minute video shorts.
Backed by $35 million in funding from investors such as Kinnevik and Tiger Global, IrokoX’s parent, Iroko, was founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Jason Njoku in 2010. IrokoX will pair selected artists to production resources, sponsorship, and distribution channels. Iroko is already Youtube’s largest content partner in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a company release. Iroko’s new short-form video platform compliments its existing iroking Afrobeat download site and signature irokotv product—a subscription based movie-on-demand service with users in over 100 countries.
In recent years, Africa’s music and movie-stars have become powerful promotional conduits for consumer goods companies. Big brands such as Uber, MTN, and Guinness have used sponsorship of musicians, actors, and entertainment to connect with the continent’s growing consumer classes—expected to spend $75 billion online by 2025, according to McKinsey Consulting.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, has become a powerhouse for the continent’s creative content, producing pop music and Nollywood films with broad Pan-African appeal. In 2014, the combined value of Nigeria’s music and movie sector was estimated at $5 billion—though less than 1 percent of it came from official revenue streams, according to the Nigerian government. Lax IP enforcement and pirating have made it difficult for financiers, producers, and artists in the continent’s largest entertainment market to recoup investments and make money.