Being the trend setter that she is, Muthoni the Drummer Queen has pioneered yet another new concept to the Kenyan music scene that is already earning her plaudits around the continent. Instead of launching her second album MDQ the usual way (event/concert yada yada), she’s keeping it purely digital to begin with. She’s sold the album’s exclusive distribution rights to The Standard Group’s entertainment wing which has been releasing one track from the album each week since 18th October 2013 (when they put out Nai Ni Ya Who) for the next 10 weeks. This is done through through SMS -based downloads. It is a brilliant strategy of roping in a corporate with the capacity to market and distribute the album and also to create an environment for the fans to digest and appreciate each song in the album for a while instead of giving it all to them at once. Moreover, she is harnessing the already deep cell phone penetration among the youth in Kenya, her primary target market.
There is no argument that the Standard Digital website, its accompanying Pulse Magazine and related TV ads and interviews on KTN all come together to create one of the most effective marketing tools for Muthoni’s album. However, there are several teething problems raising doubts as to whether the SDE site has the capacity to distribute the album. On the face of it, getting your hands on those songs would seem pretty straightforward – simply SMS the name of the song to 20270 and them you’d get a direct link to download from your phone and an alternative code you use to download the song from the SDE site. If only things were that easy.
The first problem begins with what exactly to SMS that number to get the code/links. When it all began two weeks ago, one was supposed to SMS “MDQ Name of the Song”, now the site says only “Name of the Song” should be sent while Muthoni’s website states that the song code eg, “MDQ1” is the correct thing to send. Even as there has been no clarity on that issue, it seems that only the song code is what is acceptable at the moment. Anything else result in an error message reply. Sometimes you get n reply at all. Never mind that sending each initial message goes for ten bob a pop.
If you are lucky enough to get a reply with the code/links, The second hurdle is actually downloading the song. First of all, these downloads are not very friendly to download manager such as IDM which more and more people tend to use these days. Many times, the manager will try to start the download and fail since the process was already started by your browser.
For a decent internet connection that will give you an average download speed of 70KB/sec, the downloads from the SDE site teeter between 5-10KB/sec, which means a little waiting for the download to complete is necessary. We haven’t tested with broadband yet but the results are likely to be just as dismal. The waiting is not the problem though – this is because for some reason the process timeouts after a few minutes and the download is NOT resumable. That means you have to start all over again. Spend another 10 bob to hopefully get a brand new code and attempt the download again.
We’ve attempted to download these songs more than five times over the past week in vain. Looks like our plans for 10 articles for each songs are in the crap hole. Anyway, the most viable way to get these tracks at the moment is to download them off her website using the Pesapal system. If anybody out there has managed to download a song or has way of doing it that we may have missed, feel free to share on the comments section.
The final hurdle is that there seems to be no support to deal with these technical issues. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who will deal with whether you haven’t received your links yet, or whether the download has failed. With such a precarious system infastructure handling the download process one would think Standard Digital would have dedicated support, at least for the 10 week launch period.
THE BOTTOM LINE
These are issues MDQ’s camp and SDE should really look into if they really want us to have the 10 week experience that they planned for us. Clarify the method of getting the downloads. Improve and get support for the SMS part of the equation. Make sure the downloads are resumable (if not faster). That is the only way from preventing a potential nightmare and ruining a great concept.
Well, it looks like the MDQ team have looked into the issues highlighted by this little rant. We were able to download This One, the fifth release off the album yesterday from the SDE website with no hassle at all. So, grab yourselves those songs and follow our 10 part review of the album as each track is released.