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In our One on One segment, we get to have an Interview with Kenya AudioMack Brand Ambassador Mr. Abel Zedi. Who is Abel Zedi you might ask? Well, Abel Zedi is a business and entertainment executive who has been rooted in the entertainment industry for a while now. Having grown up in music and festivals Abel Zedi has grown to work/collaborate with amazing artists and brands including BoomPlay and Mdundo Music Africa in content and music curation respectively. Apart from being a brand Ambassador of AudioMack in Kenya, he’s also a co-founder of an Entertainment company called Since 1963 Agency LLC with Mr. Wayne  Odhiambo who is his long-time friend. We caught up with Mr. Abel Zedi via mail as he walked us through about AudioMack and its role in the music industry and the music artist.

Kindly share something about Abel Zedi?

I am a business and entertainment executive. I grew up in sports, music, and festivals.  So entertainment is something that is naturally rooted inside me. I was born for this. This is the life that chose me. In my capacity as an entertainment executive in music and film, I have worked with Rappers Kamlesh Kagaba, The GOAT Juliani, Royal State Pictures Llc, Othole’s Ndani Ya Nyumba Productions, and several other artists and labels. I have also collaborated with Mdundo Music Africa and Boomplay Music Kenya in music curating and content acquisition respectively. I also co-founded an entertainment company called Since 1963 Agency LLC. With former Collo Mfalme’s Manager, Mr. Wayne Odhiambo, who also happens to be my longtime friend since our High School days at Aquinas High School Nairobi. Right now, I am working with Audiomack Inc. as the Kenyan Ambassador.

Can You Introduce Yourself and the role you play at AUDIOMACK?

As I mentioned above, I am the Audiomack Kenyan Ambassador, a role I started on the 3rd of January 2022. With Audiomack, our mission is to bring the varied sounds of Kenyan music to the world. I am also covering music and culture from Kenya, curating Audiomack – exclusive playlists e.g. “Hometown Heroes: Kenya” which is the most popular playlist in East Africa. Collaboratively, I also ensure that the hottest and best music from Kenya gets heard and spotlighted. But most importantly, we ensure that our Artists are empowered to build a global community of fans around their music and get paid in the process.

What could you say lead you to do what you’re doing today?

My vision is to have revolutionary cultural influence in all facets of entertainment. Number one is music. We need to build a culture of supporting our own first. For me, it has always been the Kenyan artist first, and the only way to execute that is if we are inside these buildings. That’s why I have always tried my best to push myself into these spaces. It’s easier to bring impact from the inside than outside. Of course, this is also divine. This life chose me, it was meant to happen this way, so I am also aligned.

What are some of the key differences between the free and basic versions of AUDIOMACK?

I wouldn’t use the word BASIC. Let me say we have two tiers; FREE and PREMIUM. The PREMIUM tier has these experiences that the FREE one doesn’t have; unlimited playback that is ad-free, full playlist download that you save to your device in only one tap, highest quality streaming of every song and podcast, equalizer controls to make your music sound how you like and you can play on airplay enabled devices, etc. All these can be tested within a FREE 30-day trial period.

How would you describe the brand in one sentence?

Audiomack is the world’s number one artist discovery platform.

How does AUDIOMACK plan to increase its footprint in Kenya?

Providing the best user experience, through short and long-term partnerships and collaborations with like-minded individuals and organizations, offering affordable premium rates to the Kenyan user, doing away with unnecessary gatekeeping, by providing easy accessibility to Audiomack opportunities to Creators e.g. Playlisting, editorials, revenue acquisition opportunities such as audiomack supporters, etc., supporting artist initiatives such as album launches, listening parties and beyond. Audiomack is also reducing as much as possible, the line between the artist and the fan.

What are some of the best practices that artists should follow in order to promote themselves on AUDIOMACK?

First, you have to be signed up, either individually or through a Distributor or an Aggregator. Secondly, make sure the whole of your catalog is uploaded to the App. For upcoming releases, upload them latest a week to the release date and start sharing the pre-save link with your fans, the Audiomack team, and other music industry stakeholders. Thirdly, artists should take advantage of audiomack supporters feature, supporters premiere access tool, and pitch for playlisting and editorial support. Fourth, always share and celebrate your work publicly. Whether it’s a playlist add, feature on trending, your 1st 1,000 or 10,000 Plays, etc. No win is small, it is your win and that is what is special about it. Milk it as much as possible.

What do you do to stay up-to-date with the company’s products and services?

Whether you are an artist or a fan, ensure you have and are signed up for Audiomack’s user app. It’s available on Apple Store and Google Playstore. Then follow all Audiomack and Audiomack Africa handles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. All new information is always posted there, and you can see the previous posts on these avenues too.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

That there are no gatekeepers. That a new artist can release their new music today, sign up to audiomack, and put it at the disposal of 20 million+ active global users for FREE. It’s amazing what music tech can do. We are a global village and that’s mind-blowing. No one should ever complain about the lack of radio or TV airplay again. It’s easier to distribute your music than ever. Nothing fascinates me like this.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I would say there is still a good number of artists who still don’t believe that people like us (Audiomack) are here to support and make music distribution easier for them. Some think we are here to prey on them yet we are not about that. I know it will take time, but we will not get tired of educating and putting our artists on until they get it.

How well do you understand the target audience of the brand?

I will answer that in a sentence; our target audience is largely youthful, hip, and urban-centered, but not limited to that.

How do you stay positive and upbeat when talking with music artists to join the brand?

That it is not about us. It is neither about the money nor what we can grab from the artist. It is about the music and what we can give the artist access to. We don’t give false promises just to make the artists feel good.  I always tell artists, that ours is to give them access to opportunities that will help them grow their brand and community of global fans. We are not here to throw unnecessary money at them, then leave them hanging afterward like some of our competitors do.

You also happen to be a Music Curator? What are some of the most important factors you consider when selecting music for a playlist?

Before I answer this question, let me first point out that it is FREE to earn a placement in our playlists, anyone who charges you for that is a scammer going against Audiomack values and regulations. Also, all categories of artists are legible for playlisting, with zero gatekeeping. So to your question, besides quality, which is an imperative consideration no matter the caliber of artist, I personally consider the Playlist target audience, the theme/mood of the song, genre, time of release, artists pushing the boundaries, and what is happening in culture and purpose of the playlist.

Playlisting is a huge part of the streaming world. What are some of the catalog playlists that AUDIOMACK offers and can artists submit their music for playlist consideration? 

There is “Audiomack Hometown Heroes: Kenya” Playlist, which is the most popular in the East African Region curated by yours truly, “Hope Sundays” Playlist which is exclusively for Kenyan and TZ Urban gospel, “Cheza Gospel” Playlist for East African Gospel all genres, “Audiomack Verified Afrosounds” Playlist, etc., and many more that we are about to launch soon i.e. Drill music, gengetone, rhumba, etc. On the 2nd part of your question, yes artists can pitch for playlisting through or reach out to individual playlist curators, subject to your research.

How do you organize your music curating projects?

This is an art. First I identify the goal and purpose of the project, then figure out my theme and the mood, pick songs that I feel the audience and I could love and vibe with, and finally get music from multiple genres that will help me achieve this.

In your opinion are streaming music revenues being distributed fairly to artists and songwriters?

I wouldn’t use the word fairly really, I would use the word equitably. I believe streaming revenue is distributed equitably based on the number of subscribers and advertisement revenue. Huge strides have been made towards this. I don’t think we are there yet, but I believe we are on the right path. DSPs like AudioMack are breaking this barrier.

How do you feel social media has impacted the music business?

Social media is actually the backbone of the music business. Besides Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, TikTok has had a major impact, in not only breaking new independent acts but also helping artists who were already on the scene to push their releases. In recent years major labels have been camping there to discover new musical acts that they could sign up for. Last year it overtook YouTube as the most visited social media platform and increased the length of its videos to 10 minutes. That means artists could now release their official new videos through TikTok instead of YouTube. This is really a force. Social media has also made it easier for artists to get instant feedback from fans, and build a global fan base right at the comfort of their sofa. Any artist who is not on social media in some form is ignorant and missing out big on the potential to build a global fan base.

What advice will you give artists who are just starting out and don’t know what to do?

I always say this, you aren’t a gangster until you go after your dreams, and the real gangsters are the ones who go after their dreams. So to artists who are just starting this is what I would advise, don’t focus on the number of views, likes, and collaborations with “bigger” artists, streams, or followers you want to get. These things are cool, but not what you need when you are starting. Focus on building your sound and a community of fans around you. This is what you need. This is the lifeline of a long-term career. People can buy views, streams, etc., but you can never buy a fan. The fan is your gold. You will appreciate this later.

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