How Publiseer is helping content creators to change the African narrative, one piece at a time

In this #MeetTheMB100 interview, Chidi Nwaogu, Co-Founder of Publiseer, discusses how they are promoting African content to every corner of the globe and the challenges around copyright infringement and distribution.

This interview series is sponsored by EY, Hogan Lovells and Babson College.

Meaningful Business (MB): Can you tell us a bit about the issues you are trying to solve and why you selected them?


Chidi Nwaogu (CN): Eight years ago, my twin (and co-founder) brother made music. Someone told him of a platform where he can distribute his music and make money. Unfortunately, the platform and other existing aggregators primarily pay royalties via PayPal, so he had to go for the alternative, which was cheque payment. Two months later, the check hadn’t arrived, so he reached out to them to find out why. 


Upon investigation, they discovered someone in Oslo, Norway, intercepted my twin’s cheque via mail fraud and took all his ~$5,000 music royalties. He was devastated. However, we learned three important things that day. First, independent African content creators can’t afford the distribution fees of existing aggregators. Their royalty payment methods are not feasible for African content creators, and these aggregators don’t distribute to African digital service providers, because they were not created for us in the first place. 


So, my twin said to me, “I’m not the only African content creator who has experienced this. There are more of me out there. Let’s create a platform that is tailored for independent African creatives.” And Publiseer was born.



Chidi Nwaogu, Co-Founder & CEO, Publiseer


(MB): How is your work tackling those problems and what impact are you having?


(CN): When a content creator is accepted on our platform, Publiseer takes care of every necessary work from start to finish. First, we fine-tune their content to industry standards so that they stand a chance to compete on a global scale in a very competitive market. Then, we protect their content from intellectual property theft and illegal distribution so that they truly own their content. Finally, we distribute their content to over 400 well-established digital service providers in ~100 countries, so that they are easily discovered and can earn a living from the sales of their content.


But that’s not all. Our creators can monitor their sales across our partner digital service providers using our centralised dashboard, which fosters transparency. They also receive their royalties every month via African-tailored payment methods, such as into their local bank account, in their local currency, or into their mobile money wallet for those without a bank account. And, we distribute to African digital service providers like Spinlet and Habari because we were created with African content creators in mind.


So far, we have helped 11,000 content creators from eight African countries, to distribute 26,000 digital content, generating $487,000 in revenue for them, through 108 million downloads and streams from over 1 million customers globally.


(MB): What support do you need in order to scale your business and increase your positive impact?


(CN): One of our biggest challenges is copyright infringement. This is when some content creators plagiarise the works of others either in whole or part, and upload them for distribution on our platform, as theirs, for monetary gains. To mitigate this, we always verify the originality of any work we publish. 


Thanks to Google’s Ally program, which  we have been part of since 2019, we have made good progress in mitigating this challenge by running the content via the Google Play store database to ensure that they’re original in whole or in parts. However, since it’s only the Google Play database we have access to, this method is not 100% efficient. 


So, we need to get access to more databases of renowned digital service providers like Google. This includes Amazon and Apple stores. This will help us to ensure that our verification process is 100% efficient and that we don’t spend money, time, and effort distributing plagiarised content.


(MB): How do you work with partners and the wider ecosystem to achieve your mission?


(CN): Publiseer partners with established digital service providers around the world, such as Amazon, Google Play, Apple iTunes, Spotify, Hulu TV, and Barnes & Noble. With millions of consumers, these DSPs help the digital content of our creatives get easily discovered.


We recently added SoundCloud to our distribution channel and secured a partnership with CapCut to take the music of thousands of our artists to the ears of millions of content creators around the world.


We also partnered with Repro Books, one of India’s leading names in book publishing. This partnership is a result of our continued commitment to helping the books of our authors reach an even wider audience.


(MB): What is your ambition for the future of your business?


(CN): Publiseer’s mission is to empower the African continent through its young people and to simultaneously change the African narrative by promoting the beautiful culture and heritage of the African people to the rest of the world, one content piece at a time. The digital platform is working towards helping at least 200,000 African creatives from low-income and disadvantaged communities earn above the minimum wage and live above the poverty line from the sales of their creative works, by 2030.


We intend to continue partnering with more digital service providers around the world, with more focus on continents where we have very few partnerships, such as the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. We want to get the content of our creatives to every corner of the world so that they are easily discovered and can earn a living from the sales of their content.


At the moment, we are working to build a 100% automated distribution process. However, the content protection part of the process hasn’t been automated due to the nature of the operations of our content protection partners. We are working on automating this part of our distribution activities, to ensure that we are a 100% scalable business.


(MB): How do you measure success?


(CN): Every day, fresh talents are rising and joining the creative industry in Africa. While creating content is often fun for them, it takes a lot of hard work for them to be discovered. Every upcoming content creator experiences difficulty in getting their content discovered. Many content pieces never see the light of day, and as a result, many dreams die every day. 


One of the creators we’re most proud of at Publiseer, is the Nigerian indigenous rapper, Erigga. In 2018, Erigga joined Publiseer with barely 60,000 social media followers, but today, he has over 2 million social media followers and he makes at least $3,000 every month from his music being promoted and distributed by us. We’re looking for more success stories like Erigga; coming from remote regions in Nigeria where they have no luxury to dream, to becoming famous content creators earning a living as full-time professionals. It is this vision that wakes me up every morning; excited about the next talent we will discover.





Quickfire questions:


(MB): Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from


(CN): Never start a business that is identical to an existing business, with the only change being the target audience. For example, starting an e-commerce platform for only students. That’s a terrible mistake, and I have been guilty of this in the past. Start a business by offering value like never before.


(MB): How do you spend your time away from work? 


(CN): I’m very introverted, so when I’m not working, or thinking about work, or speaking about it either, you will find me at home bingeing a movie TV series. I don’t like action movies because of the blood and violence, so be assured that I’m not watching those!


(MB): What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 


(CN): Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Success is no magical key handed out to us on a silver platter. It is the total of all the years of grit and grime we have struggled in.


(MB): What is something you wish you were better at? 


(CN): I wish I was better at staying in touch with people when I’m not in the same region or place as they are. This has made me fall out of touch with so many great friends when I return to my base. I have tried to be better at this, but I slowly returned to being in my shell


(MB): What is the one book everyone should read?


(CN): A great book everyone should read is “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. It is a great read because everyone, even if you’re not building a business, needs to clearly understand their purpose in life. This book makes you understand the value that you bring to the world and how to effectively communicate this value to others.



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