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Here’s How YouTube Is Helping African Music Arts Go Global.

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Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Joseph Akinfenwa, aka Joeboy

, is one of Nigeria’s fast-rising music artists. The 22-year-old went from singing in his bathroom to topping music charts in UgandaZimbabwe, and Nigeria in the space of a few months. In 2017, unsigned, he released a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” The cover made it into the Instagram direct messages of one of Africa’s most successful artists, Oluwatosin Ajibade aka Mr Eazi.

Mr Eazi, who has more than 5 million

 monthly listeners on Spotify enjoyed Joeboy’s music so much that he invited him to join emPawa Africa, an incubator program that provides career guidance and funds music videos for upcoming artists in Africa. Joeboy, now a poster boy for the benefits that come with being a part of the program, says emPawa is similar to a music foundation for emerging African talents. “The program offers young musicians support; it could be in the form of promos or videos or features. Just centered around supporting their music,” he told CNN.

emPawa foundation

The idea for emPawa was motivated by the need to give back to Africa’s music industry says Mr Eazi.”I wanted to be a businessman, I never believed I could be an artist, but people kept telling me I could do it. Given the kind of support I got then, I want to give back,” he said. In 2018, he called for online demo music submissions from artists across Africa using the hashtag #empawa100. Out of 10,000 entries received from 14 countries, 100 were handpicked and their videos funded at $3,000 apiece.But when one of the artists funded, Ghana’s Kwesi Arthur received a BET award nomination, Mr Eazi decided to do more than just fund videos.

“I was already making a deliberate effort to give back by funding artists, but when one of them got a nomination… I thought about making it more structured,” he explained. Now, emPawa has many moving parts. The incubator helps artists market their music, provides them with access to TV and radio stations for airplay, and enrolls some of them for classes with top business managers so they can become independent music entrepreneurs. Joeboy, who mostly creates Afro-fusion, a blend of African sounds and dance, says his music success can be largely attributed to emPawa. “They have invested in my career and will continue to do so. I remember my single ‘Baby,’ I didn’t think the song would blow up the way it did. They helped market it,” he said. 

YouTube partnership

In collaboration with emPawa, YouTube is also focusing on initiatives to bring more African artists to the global stage. At the Google for Nigeria event

 held in Lagos in July, YouTube announced a commitment to support emerging talent in the country. Lyor Cohen, music executive and YouTube’s global head of music, says the team is working to support ten emerging Nigerian music artists chosen by emPawa to build their craft, increase their fan base and connect with the world through the video platform.

This support will go towards enabling artists to use YouTube to identify their audience.”New artists need to find their fans, and what’s critical for us is to help them find their audience. They have to grow to the next obvious consumer who will be interested in them,” Cohen told CNN. YouTube’s interest in Africa’s music scene did not start with emPawa.In 2016, the team launched Foundry, an international artist development program to offer emerging acts tools for building a fan base on YouTube.

African artists like Maleek Berry are a part of the program, successfully learning about content creation in workshops hosted by YouTube. There’s also Artist on the Rise, a monthly program aimed at promoting a diverse lineup of music from young artists and producers. The program connects these artists with fans across the world through social and fan events at YouTube spaces.Nigeria’s Burna Boy and Teni

, the entertainer, have featured on Artist on the Rise.

‘Visibility for young artists’

Music from the continent has been rising on the global stage, says Nigerian music analyst, Dennis Peter.Recently, some of the continent’s top stars, including Ghana’s Shatta Wale, Cameroon’s Salatiel and Nigeria’s Yemi Alade featured on Beyonce’s Lion King: The Gift Album. Nigerian artist Wizkid is one of the more successful African stars to make it on the international scene. He features on Drake’s hit song, One Dance, making him the first Nigerian artist to top Billboard’s US Hot 100 chart. Peter says the YouTube-Mr Eazi’s partnership is good for Africa because it will help young artists who don’t have the type of visibility they need for their music.”With emPawa and YouTube, artists have something to open them up to a newer audience. So, they are not only getting their videos funded, but they are getting their brand and music public,” he told CNN.

While YouTube has played a role in discovery and development, Peter says the video-sharing website is still studying the African market for the best way to position itself as the continent’s go-to platform. “The African music scene is not as structured as we think. US music has charts to track their music, Latin pop has YouTube for that, but in Africa, we don’t have that structure,” Peter said.”It looks like YouTube wants to position itself as the structure for music visuals on the continent. I think that will be exciting to watch.”

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Motorola Releases Fold-able Smartphone – Razr.

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We all remember the classic Motorola Razr V3 clamshell phone from the early days of the millennium. Now, in the age of foldable screens, Motorola reinvented the device and introduced the all-new Motorola Razr with a 6.2” foldable panel on the inside.

The Razr runs on the mid-range Snapdragon 710, coupled with 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage. There are only two cameras on the phone - one on the outside of the flip part and another on the inside, tucked inside a notch (yes, really).

The main shooter is 16 MP f/1.7 with EIS, Dual Pixel AF, and Laser AF. It is coupled with dual-LED flash. The selfie shooter is 5 MP f/2.0 with no flash, but the screen can be used to light up your face in the dark.

The biggest talking point of this device is the foldable panel. It is pOLED with a 21:9 ratio and has the marketing name Cinemavision and a resolution of 2142 x 876 pixels. There is another Quick View screen on the outside of the device with a 2.7” OLED panel and a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels.

The good thing about the secondary display is you it lets you use the phone without unfolding it for almost all important features like calls, taking selfies, turning some basic settings off/on and talking to the Google Assistant.

Motorola equipped the Razr with a 2,510 mAh battery that should top up in no time with the 15W TurboPower charging. The OS is Android Pie and it comes with all the Google services you need.

Offered in one color - Noir Black - the Razr is expected to cost $1,500. Motorola is yet to officially confirm the price and announce an actual launch date.

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SoundCloud Launches Promote Tool For Artistes.

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BERLIN, GERMANY - European online audio distribution platform and music sharing website, SoundCloud, has, On Tuesday (Nov. 12), launched "Promote on SoundCloud" to help users of the platform push their tracks to a wide range of listeners off the platform

The new feature is a self-service tool that enables artists to boost their original songs to the top of listeners’ feeds and mobile homepages. Users can promote tracks directly to fans in real time, distribute releases to their audience across all major music services and get paid for plays both on SoundCloud and other streaming platforms.

The tool sets SoundCloud apart from most other streaming services by giving artists and creators more control over their content and marketing strategies. It also serves as a step further on SoundCloud’s Premier monetisation programme whose core selling point is that it enables artists to monetise their music on the platform and, according to SoundCloud, earn better pay-outs.

The scheme works similar to Facebook advertising. You tell SoundCloud who you want to target your track to and how much you want to spend getting it in front of them. The track will then be boosted up to the top of users’ streams and on their mobile homepages. Promoted tracks on SoundCloud are not new, but this opens the option up to more musicians.

With Promote on SoundCloud, the company’s chief product officer, Gilles BianRosa, said, creators can set their own budget and choose from a variety of advanced targeting options to help drive track plays, reach more diverse listener groups and build real-time, interactive connections with their fans.

Gilles BianRosa

The power of promotion is in the hands of creators whenever they want to elevate new tracks, fuel excitement for upcoming album releases, or build local market buzz in advance of tour dates.

He added that, promote on SoundCloud is an important addition to SoundCloud Premier, which offers creators wide distribution, more earning potential, and now, a way to proactively promote their music on SoundCloud, explaining that, creators get the added benefit of combining Promote on SoundCloud reports with SoundCloud stats to see comprehensive engagement data, a unique capability for creators who choose SoundCloud.

The company has been making moves this year to build up its subscription business – most notably appointing Anthony Gabriele as its SVP of subscriptions and marketing (he was formerly director of subscription marketing at Apple) – and the addition of new tools like these for creators is part of that wider thrust. There have been some interesting moves in this whole area recently to give creators and copyright owners more control over their own on-platform promotion.

Compare what SoundCloud has done to what Spotify launched in beta last month to let artist teams pay to promote releases to both free and paying users. Both companies need to build up revenues and are under growing pressure to let acts and labels have more control over the promotion of their own music on these platforms. While artists and copyright owners will always demand more control and feel the services could let them in closer to the centre of things, but these moves from Spotify and SoundCloud are certainly heading in the right direction.

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Ayoba Messaging Platform, Powered By MTN, Reaches 1M Active Users.

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JOHANNESBURG – MTN Group today announced that its instant messaging platform, Ayoba has reached 1 million monthly active users. Ayoba is an advanced communications application localised for African and Middle East consumer needs, under an independent Over the Top (OTT) brand with unique features for MTN customers. The app supports many local languages spoken across the MTN markets including isiZulu, isiXhosa, Pidgin, Yoruba, Swahili, Hausa, French and English.

MTN, together with its partners, is driven to improve access to affordable communications to ensure that people in its markets can reap the social, economic and developmental dividends of being online. Ayoba underscores this goal to bring more people into the digital world by providing them with affordable and simplified digital communication services.

Some of its key features and offerings are: Local languages: Ayoba is available in the top local languages in the markets where the offering has launched, Chat now: Users can instantly send and receive text and voice messages with any of their contacts regardless of device type or network, Security: End-to-end encryption means that messages in a conversation cannot be read by anyone else, Chat with everyone: Users can send SMS text messages with anyone in their contact list, regardless of whether they've installed Ayoba or not, Channels: Users can subscribe to Channels for locally relevant content across various categories, Money transfers: Users will be able to make and receive payments via Mobile Money (coming soon).

Commenting on the milestone, MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter said, “We believe that our customers in Africa and the Middle East deserve a communication platform that expresses our unique voice, honours our rich identity through local languages, and addresses our customers’ specific needs and challenges by offering a data-included offering for MTN users, Mobile Money transfers (coming soon) and locally relevant content via channels.”

The platform which was launched earlier this year is now operational in 8 MTN markets, namely: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Afghanistan and South Africa. Ayoba is also available across multiple markets on the Google Play Store and via the Ayoba website www.ayoba.me as an OTT offering.

As part of continuous efforts to enhance its offerings, Ayoba will be adding more features in the future. “Ayoba is also working on building an open digital platform that will enable third party innovation. This will ensure that we offer a rich diversified experience on the platform, enabling us to deliver more value to our users, empower local developers and create local experiences that are optimised for local communities,” explains David Gilarranz, CEO MTN Digital.

Gilarranz adds that in addition to the number of exciting innovations on the cards Ayoba plans to expand to the rest of MTN’s markets, and other territories across the globe. Before the end of the year, Ayoba will go live in Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Benin and Rwanda.

About the MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator with a clear vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to our 244 million customers in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. We are inspired by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code “MTN”. We are pursuing our BRIGHT strategy with a major focus on growth in our data, fintech and digital businesses.

For more information, please contact:
Nompilo Morafo on +27 (0) 83 212 4022 | Nompilo.morafo@mtn.com
Karen Byamugisha on +27 (0) 83 214 3685 | Karen.byamugisha@mtn.com
Follow us:
www.twitter.com/MTNGroup
www.linkedin.com/company/mtn

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Tesla Pickup Truck To Be Priced Below $50,000

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According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the upcoming Tesla truck will have a target price of under $50,000. This seems an impossible figure given the fact that other Tesla products (aside from the Model 3) start at a price that’s much higher. However, Musk stated this in a recent Ride The Lightning Podcast:

“You should be able to buy a really great truck for $49k or less.”

Musk added that the capabilities of the Tesla truck will be unmatched, though its appearance might be a bit over-the-top for a typical truck buyer.

If that price turns out to be true, then yes indeed the Tesla truck will beat the Rivian R1T and electric trucks from Ford and others, too.
More Tesla News

In the past, Musk commented on the abilities of the Ram truck, stating that it’ll be more or less toy-like compared to the Tesla truck. Range of the Tesla truck is expected to be around 500 miles. The unveiling is set for sometime later this year.

In top-level trim, it should boast a range of between 400 and 500 miles, possibly more. As one might suspect, it will be all-wheel drive with a motor for each axle. Musk also noted that the suspension will dynamically adjust according to its load. Being electric and a truck means it will have lots of torque. While we can’t say how much, exactly, we can point out that Musk once tweeted that it could tow 300,000 pounds.

Regarding the look, there’s been any number of renders of a possible Tesla truck produced over the past couple of years, but we’ve yet to see the actual truck to really have an idea of what it will look like, though Musk does say it’ll have a certain sort of sci-fi appearance.

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