Africa Unsigned to launch website supporting emerging musicians

It will help unsigned artists to record music funded by fans, a website linking African music directly to its UK fans will be launched in the UK on 16th May 2011.

The website catapults African Music to a new level of exposure and leverages artist/fan relationships by helping unsigned African artists to record music funded by fans.

With this launch, UK based African artists can now be considered for “crowd funding” by their fans to help develop their careers, with the website also open to European fans and artists alike.

Africa Unsigned was created by Pim Betist, the founder of SellaBand – a European based online crowd funding label. SellaBand has already seen more than $3 million invested in unsigned talent and around 50 artists crowd funded $50,000 to record and release their first albums.

“I wanted to move more towards music closer to my heart and I was inspired by a Jamaican taxi driver who couldn’t join SellaBand due to a lack of recording facilities and internet access. I chose to focus on the African continent because of the diversity of African music and abundance of highly talented artists,” Pim said.     

Going live in June 2010, Africa Unsigned has since scouted hundreds of talented artists in African regions. A music expert’s panel was set up to select five artists per African country to join the program and be part of this unique website based on their drive, authenticity, uniqueness and quality of music.

The music experts currently include Damon Albarn, Tony Allen (internationally renowned African drummer), Baaba Maal (collaborated with the likes of U2 and Peter Gabriel) and Angela Angweni (judge on Africa Idols). The Western music industry will be represented by several famous DJs, radio personalities and journalists.

Co-founder Daan Determeijer explains how Africa Unsigned works: “Fans who have signed up to the website can make a donation to become a ‘supporter’ of the artist. All artists are encouraged to set themselves targets of between $2,500 – $10,000 for crowd funding and once this is reached, they are offered an opportunity to either record tracks in a studio, record video clips, invest in a tour or even buy new equipment. Supporters then receive music and rewards, which can include items such as free gig tickets or exclusive content.”

Two artists have reached their target in less than nine months. After securing $5,000, Muthoni the Drummer Queen, will be releasing her first EP in spring 2011. Soul & Gospel singer Neema is releasing her first album in summer 2011 after raising $20,000 through crowd funding.

The success of Africa Unsigned has given rise to partnerships with companies including, the ASN Bank and the GCAP campaign, cementing continued promotion of crowd funded artists such as Muthoni through tour support and upcoming releases. The support has also brought together famous Dutch House producer Gregor Salto with young Zimbabwean band Mokoomba which resulted in ‘Messe Messe’ remixes being internationally well received by DJs across the world.

Fans can decide for themselves how much they would like to invest, and now help their African artists to produce the music that they want to listen to. With a UK launch party to be confirmed imminently, Africa Unsigned looks set to bring original African music to its most loyal supporters.