We’ve claimed that WhatsApp is the internet in Zimbabwe a number of times – here and here to be more specific. Whilst that’s far from ideal, the next best alternative is people creating services for WhatsApp and SoundNation is one such example of building products/services where the people are.
SoundNation at its core is a chatbot that allows users to search, view and download music free music, videos and lyrics using their WhatsApp bundle.
When you first text the chatbot you’ll get a 3 day trial period where you can use all the features available on SoundNation – after which you’ll have to pay ZW$4.99/month to subscribe.
One question that quickly came to mind for me was the issue of piracy and whether artists actually approve of their music being distributed in this way but Simbarashe Duane Andrea the of CEO of Amigo Solutions PBC (which owns the SoundNation bot) said they only upload songs that artists have uploaded to Soundcloud and enabled downloads for:
We are getting music from the SoundCloud open API from which the artist would have allowed downloads already so any song that appears on SoundNation the artist would have allowed it to be downloadedSimbarashe Duane Andrea
Simbarashe also added that if any artist doesn’t approve of the bot distributing their music SoundNation will remove the artist’s music.
From the time spent testing the bot, it seems other packages apart from the monthly offering will be made available down the line.
It will be interesting to track SoundNation’s traction since the ability to grow a service on WhatsApp – a platform that can allow businesses to reach customers at a low cost- is something many would trade an arm and a leg for.