Samrawit Fikru, the founder and CEO of RIDE, is venturing into the streaming business with Sewasew, a multimedia distribution app that brings music, podcasts, audiobooks, and books in one platform.
Sewasew, which aims to ignite and reward creativity in Ethiopia, is available on iOS and Android. Developed in-house, Sewasew is owned by 2f-Capital Plc, a subsidiary of Hybrid Designs, the tech firm behind one of the biggest ride-hailing platforms in Ethiopia, RIDE.
Last week, Sewasew marked its entry into the entertainment industry with a launching ceremony held at the Sheraton Addis Hotel.
“At this stage, we are focused on streaming music. Podcasts will be available on the platform in two months, and the other forms of content will follow,” Habtu Negash, Music Department Head at 2f-Capital told Shega.
Sewasew allows users to stream, purchase, and download Ethiopian music. Further, intending to bring fans closer to artists, the app enables users to create accounts, follow artists and see what they are listening to, a feature similar to Spotify, the global music streaming gaint.
Sewasew is now in the process of onboarding around 70 artists and has already bought 35 albums. Currently, the platform is signing an exclusive deal with the artists, making the albums available only on the platform for the next two or three years.
“The amount of money we buy albums depends on many factors, such as the quality of the music and the artist’s reputation. For now, we are paying artists starting at one million birr per album,” added Habtu.
Sewasew believes that such exclusive material will help it get public attention. Henok Abebe, Tewodros Mosisa, Rahel Getu, Tadele Gemechu, and Kamuzu Kasa are some of the artists that have already joined the streaming platform.
Users can access Sewasew for free. However, they will not be able to download songs and will be forced to see ads. But in the premium version, they are given unlimited, offline, and ad-free access.
The company charges 21 birr for a weekly subscription, 90 birr for a monthly subscription and 990 birr for a yearly subscription.
Sewasew, which has made all it’s content free for one month, will accept telebirr and payments made through Enat Bank to settle subscription fees. Users abroad will also be able to make payments using international payment gateways such as PayPal.
Previously a software developer, Samrawit, is well-known for disrupting the transport sector in Addis Ababa with RIDE. Today, an estimated 30,000-40,000 drivers work for various ride-hailing platforms, and ride-hailing has become the default mode of commercial non-public transport in the capital.
Samrawit is also heading Sewasew as its board chairwoman.
“In the long run, we plan to build a platform that nurtures creativity in Ethiopia. We aim to build a reality where artists are no longer worried about monetization and can focus on creativity. We envision creating a music industry that does not only bring financial gain to creators but to the state in the form of tax,” Habtu told Shega.