GongBox is a music platform, similar to Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and the like. But it’s tailored for an African market. “If you think about how these products [Apple Music, Spotify etc.] are constructed,” says Simukayi Mukuna, a member of Soulistic Music, who is explaining the technicalities of the app today, “the product team lives in Sweden, or Japan somewhere, and they don’t have our context in mind; price of data, the size of the app. So all of these things, we are considering as we build the app. And when we are marketing and targeting people.”
Mukuna states that GongBox when it’s launched, will first be an Android app, because it’s the most prevalent operating system among the smart phones the average South African uses.
Coffee adds that platforms like Apple Music and iTunes don’t work that well for (South) African artists. “When my song hits number 1 (on iTunes), and Beyonce is number 2, you feel, ‘I’ve made it,’ but in numbers, it’s a joke. Because you are only number 1 here, so the numbers don’t match up. You can be number 1 for a month, and then you wait for a statement, and you only have $4. So we are trying to create a platform that’s real, that’s real-time, that’s based on our charts, and if you are number 1, you are number 1 based on your sales.”
When Black Coffee got the idea to create GongBox, iTunes was the biggest online platform for music. “So the first thing to consider was, ‘how will we be different from iTunes?'” he says. “We understand our people more, we understand how they consume. We understand that most of them don’t wanna subscribe, they don’t want to be committed to pay, even if it’s R9 a month. They’d rather pay R15 pay-as-you-go. So the plan is to have different types of payment systems, for instance mobile money. We are currently talking to networks to see if we can have our own currency, like Gong Box money. We want to have vouchers that you can find in spaza shops. We want to bridge the gap that the big companies aren’t.”