Virgin StartUp of the Week: Afrotown Records
We support startups across a huge range of industries - including the creative industries. New and exciting artists are emerging in the music and arts worlds, and we're proud to help support the development of many. One such business is Afrotown Records, a record label dedicated to discovering the best new Afrobeats and African-inspired music and bringing it to wider audience. We caught up with founder Abi Lufadeju over a glass of wine.
Business name: Afrotown Records
Founder(s) name: Abi Lufadeju
Loan funds received: £7,490
Based in: London
1. Explain your business in the time it would take the wine to be poured
Afrotown Records as an independent record label, specialising in promoting Afrobeats and African-inspired music. Our emphasis is on spotting and developing young untapped musical talents, representing their interests, and using the medium of music to share insightful educational messages that transform lives and inspire the pursuit of positive dreams and aspirations.
We aim to help steer young talents on the right path, give them guidance, advice, protect their interests and rights until they have become established independent artists in their own right. We deliver this as a record label, discovering, nurturing and producing world-class artists; and as a business, for the purposes of making profit for our shareholders and to expand the business.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
Our business headquarters are in London, United Kingdom. Voted the world's most competitive city in Europe, London offers a cosmopolitan mix of cultures, great talents, established entertainment infrastructure, transport links, light-touch business regulation and huge opportunities for growth and expansion.
London is a strategic city which boast of vibrant economic activity at the heart of the global capital market. As a business seeking to tap into the pool or musical talents in the City and UK as a whole, it offers us a good base from which to grow our business. We're keen to build and maintain a consistent following for its artists and their music, starting from the UK, expanding into Africa, the USA and global market.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
Afrotown Records was created because there was a major gap for an Afrobeats independent record label in the UK, and I felt the need to fill that gap. I came up with the idea because of the lack of positive music in the world, I was motivated by God to make a difference in this world and to try and save people's lives through the music released by Afrotown Records. We aim to inspire people by demonstrating that nothing is impossible and that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it, even in challenging situations.
4. What’s the business model?
As an independent record label we own and control all the rights to our music including copyrights and related licences of our products. This gives us plenty of room to be strategic in promoting and selling our products, all of which can earn us income as we grow our catalogue.
5. Who are your competitors?
Among the main competitors in the UK are Boy Better Know and Disturbing London. We believe we are well positioned to compete effectively in the industry, attracting the right talent and artists.
6. What’s unique about your business?
Afrotown Records is unique because of the professional expertise of myself as a songwriter and artist, as well as being a qualified legal practitioner specialising in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law. This means the scope of our range of services goes beyond just production of music, including the legal know-how to manage artists' rights.
Our talent management drive means we don’t sit and wait for artists and aspiring artists to find us, but we go out there in the communities and cities to identify and nurture them.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
Afrotown Records was 6 months old when we applied for the Start Up Loan, and it was one of the best decisions that we ever made to date.
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
So far we have used the Start Up Loan for an artist development program, recording, production, mixing and mastering singles for the EP, a marketing campaign, artwork, trademark registrations and domain name fees for intellectual property protection.
9. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
My mentor is Jonathan Herman and he works for Facebook and Instagram. He has really helped me strategise the digital marketing side of Afrotown Records.
10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
Our regional delivery partner is the Association of Independent Music (AIM). Matleena was so helpful and supportive during the whole process of applying for the Virgin StartUp loan.
11. Biggest achievement so far?
Kicking off in the last quarter of 2015, and successfully releasing “Crazy Love” by Abi Jenaé independently.
12. What’s next for your business?
Releasing more positive music, signing new talent and consistently growing. Our next single by Abi Jenaé, "Empire", will be out soon.